On Friday, a group of volunteers from Planned Parenthood visited Paul Ryan’s office to hand deliver over 87,000 signatures asking Ryan to not defund Planned Parenthood. Not only did Ryan refuse to see them, but he sent six armed security guards down to prevent them from even delivering the petition.
This is the message I am getting from Ryan: I don’t give a damn.
And those in power don’t need to. Voting suppression worked well for Ryan.The Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013, and this affected primarily Democratic voters, as it was supposed to. And, in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, a court ruled that the state was gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
In short, Ryan does not need to listen to the people. Between voter suppression and gerrymandering, he is doing his best to make sure that the people he wants to vote do, and the people he doesn’t don’t.
This is not how democracy works.
The Electoral College was created as a safeguard to prevent people like Trump from coming into office. And it failed, massively. The irony is that if we did not have the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton would be President Elect. However, power and money won over all of the evidence of conflicts of interest, interference from foreign governments, and corruption. Nearly three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Trump, yet she will not be president.
This does not feel like democracy. This does not feel like my vote being honored and my voice being heard.
If Republicans cared about the will of the people, they would keep in mind that most people voted against their candidate and that they are in power thanks to voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College. But they don’t, and frankly, I worry that they don’t need to. Even though their antics with refusing to even hold hearings on President Obama’s court nominees were unpopular, they were successful. Trump is coming in with hundreds of court appointments to make and fill with conservative judges. Judges who will likely rule to preserve the changes Republicans have made to gerrymandering and voter suppression and give their blessing to further efforts to stack the system in their favor.
So it’s no surprise that Paul Ryan sent armed guards to turn away women begging to keep the largest provider and defender of their healthcare funded. He doesn’t give a damn, and he doesn’t need to.
I am terrified right now. And I feel that what I do does not make a damn.
It’s been going around liberal circles to call your representatives. They’re less likely to ignore a phone call than a letter supposedly. So, even though I have massive phone anxiety, I resolved to do that for Planned Parenthood. I could not get through to a person or an unfilled voice mail box. And then I looked at who I was calling. Ted Cruz. John Cornyn. My house rep. None of them give a damn. Millions of people could call them begging them to keep Planned Parenthood funded and they wouldn’t budge. They don’t need to. In Texas, their position is secure.
No one represents me or my interests. None of my elected officials are fighting for me. They are screwing me over.
Before the 2016 elections, I watched Suffragette, a film about the women’s suffrage movement in Britain. One of the things that struck me was the fact that in the movie, these women felt like they had no voice (in their case they did not even have freedom of the press to disseminate their ideas), so they had to use extreme measures such as bombing mail boxes, cutting phone wires, and it escalates from there, to talk of bombing property.
As I debated the ethics of their actions, I kept coming back to the fact that these women were excluded from their government and had no means to participate in it and had no voice or means to change the system they were living in. Right or wrong, when people don’t feel like they are being heard and that they have no power, they are going to act out in more extreme ways to be heard and to gain that power.
I’m not sure how much worse things are going to get before there is the ugly backlash, but I fear it is coming. And no, unlike some far left liberals who want the system to be destroyed so a new one can rise in it’s place, this is not something I want. During the 2016 elections we had the opportunity to put the right people in place to change things. And we didn’t.
Revolutions tend to be ugly and they tend to harm their countries. The wrong people tend to take the reigns, and women in particular tend to get trampled on. This is not something I was wanting. Especially as the mother of two young children. I wanted a responsive government and stability, two things that are not going to happen in the next four years.
For someone who came of age in the 90s and graduated high school in 2000 when things were calm and optimistic I could never have envisioned something like this twenty years down the line. But I also could never remember feeling so let down and betrayed by my country. 2004 was the closet, and even then, the messages I received as a girl growing up that girls could achieve anything that boys could had not been so cruelly demolished before me.
It is a demoralizing time to be a woman and feminist. My white male father, though a feminist, does not get the feelings of anguish this has spurred in my mother and me and many other women. My brown husband gets it.
More and more it feels like this government was created by white men for white men. Women and people of other races have had to fight to be included and represented. At the end of the day, though, any gains we make can be swiftly and cruelly taken away.
Given the changing demographics, with people of color on their way to outnumbering white people soon, I don’t know how much longer Republicans can keep ignoring people who aren’t rich white men. But I fear that until that happens, things are going to be ugly and brutal, and the America I live in will be a hell the likes of which I could never have imagined in high school.
How long are Republicans going to ignore the people? And just how ugly will the protests get before they decide to listen?