Recent Legislation Shows How Far Republicans Have Strayed

  • Provide federal assistance to low-income communities
  • Protect Social Security
  • Grant asylum to refugees
  • Expand the federal minimum wage
  • Improve and expand unemployment benefits
  • Strengthen labor laws to make it easier for workers to join a union
  • Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender

Can you guess which political party’s platform positions these are?

There was a time in America when Republicans actually supported policies that benefitted average American people, like the ones above.

Yes, the above list was the Republican party platform–in 1956.

Today, though, we would ascribe those exact positions to Democrats.

Yet there are those who still spout the view “both parties are the same.”

Let’s test that claim by looking at some recent legislation coming out of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Last week, Georgia legislature Republicans advanced HB 531, a bill intended to criminalize distributing pizza and water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots.

28 states with Republican majorities currently have 106 pending bills designed to restrict voting access.

On Wednesday, the Republican-dominated state legislature in Oklahoma passed a bill to grant immunity to drivers who “unintentionally” run over protesters.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson this week signed legislation banning abortions except in cases where pregnant women’s lives are at risk, making it the 14th state advocating near absolute abortion bans this year (it’s only March).

Also this week, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.

And Democrats?

They had a transgender bill of their own.

Last month the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed “the Equality Act,” which protects transgender men and women’s civil rights.

Republicans, naturally, opposed it.

Earlier this week, House Democrats reintroduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained:

“Takes a great step forward to advance justice, safety and dignity for American women.”

House Democrats also passed the “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act, seeking to hand workers more power during employer disputes, penalize companies that retaliate against workers who wish to organize, and provide hundreds of thousands of workers collective bargaining rights.

It also diminishes “Right-to-Work-for-Less,” a.k.a. “Right to Work,” laws that allow unionized workers to withhold dues while retaining union protections.

House Democrats also passed House Resolution 1 (HR1), or the “For the People Act,”  which seeks, in part, to:

Then there’s the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act:”

Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the “Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act,” which seeks to build on one of her signature presidential platform positions–create a wealth tax for high-net-worth households.

And who can forget the most recent–and consequential–bill the Democratic-controlled Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday?

The “American Rescue Plan” Act, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief and economic stimulus package, projected to increase the poorest 20% of Americans’ incomes 20%, is being hailed as “The boldest action taken on behalf of the American people since the Great Depression.

How many Republicans supported it?

None.

Zero.

But they’re all in a tizzy over Dr. Seuss Enterprises refusing to any longer publish six Dr. Seuss books that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.

They can’t get over toy manufacturer Hasbro’s decision to reduce “Mr. Potato Head” to “Potato Head.”

In six decades, the Republican party went from the push to preserve Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to clutching its pearls over high minority voter turnout, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice reform, environmental regulations, health care availability, economic assistance to the disadvantaged, expanding education, and strengthening social safety nets.

It has become the party of white supremacist, conspiracy theorist, gun fetishist authoritarians.

Maybe they ought to just sit in their offices reading Dr. Seuss playing with Mr. Potato–err, Potato–head.

Image credit: Flickr

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.