This mean streak in today’s Republican Party is disheartening. Republican legislatures all over the country are changing voting laws that will make it more difficult for their constituents to cast ballots. The laws are brazenly aimed specifically at voters of color. For a while now, the only way Republicans could win an election was making sure it was difficult for brown and black people to vote.
Georgia overcame that this year, electing two Democratic U.S. senators, including a black man. They just can’t have that, so Georgia tightened voting regulations.
Today, Republicans don’t even pretend they’re not trying to suppress votes. After spouting the Big Lie that Donald Trump was cheated out of the 2020 election, now they say they are changing the way people vote for “ballot integrity.” Yet, the 2020 election was called one of the fairest ever, even by officials with the Trump administration.
Still, Trump and other Republicans, including Alabama U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, incited insurrection at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 based on that Big Lie of election fraud.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Republican officials across the nation, including Gov. Kay Ivey in Alabama, are ending pandemic unemployment benefits, a $300-a-week add-on included in President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief package.
Their argument: People aren’t going back to work because they’re making so much money staying at home.
There will always be people who take advantage of any system. Billionaires take advantage of the nation’s rich-friendly tax code. Many don’t pay a dime in federal income and business taxes.
Few people are refusing to return to work so they can get Alabama’s meager unemployment benefits.
The maximum state unemployment compensation is $275 a week. That’s only if you have a high-paying job. Some people receive as little as $45 per week. The $300 federal add-on under the pandemic relief program still makes it difficult for Alabama families to pay their rent and mortgages, utilities, food, and medical care. Nobody is getting rich on paltry social program benefits in Alabama.
Meanwhile, Republicans are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage to a modest $15 per hour. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 hasn’t been raised since 2009. That’s a dozen years ago.
And then, Republicans are leading efforts to discriminate against transgender children. In Alabama, the Legislature passed, and Ivey signed, a bill to ban transgender kids from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. That’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
There are efforts as well to make it a felony for physicians to help transgender children as they transition. Sure, the bill bans transition surgery for minors, but again that never happens to children. But trans kids may need hormone therapy or puberty blockers; that treatment should be up to the physician, child, and parents, not some lawmaker who has never even knowingly met a transgender young person.
This is a population with a much higher rate of suicide than other groups, yet lawmakers would prefer they don’t even get help from their physicians.
It’s not like this disdain for marginalized humans is a new thing for Republicans. African-Americans and immigrants and Muslims have also been targets of GOP hate for years.
The poor, the LGBTQ community, people of color, Muslims and immigrants — all have targets on their backs. Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. But, of course, they’re not.