Ideologies and Strategies

In my previous post, I quoted from a ThinkProgress blog post on a bill introduced in the Ohio legislature that would have defined comprehensive sex education as a “gateway sexual activity.”

The bill was ultimately withdrawn after its proponents were forced by public ridicule to recognize that it was no longer passable. But as the remainder of that post from the ThinkProgress blog demonstrates, ridicule apparently has a short-term effect:

“However, that doesn’t mean Ohio Republicans have dedicated themselves to focusing solely on the state’s finances. The state budget also contains a provision to defund Planned Parenthood—the third time that lawmakers have attempted to strip funding from the national organization within the past year alone—that the House successfully advanced on Thursday. If it ultimately becomes law, it will ‘re-distribute’ the family planning dollars that used to go to Planned Parenthood to right-wing crisis pregnancy centers that don’t provide the same types of reproductive health services.”

On April 21, Plunderbund reported that, in this same legislative session, programs will be defunded that were enacted in 2009 to reduce Ohio’s infant mortality rate—currently the eleventh highest among the 50 states overall and the highest among the 50 states for African-Americans.

The Plunderbund post includes the following succinct chart:

2009 Recommendation

In Plain English

What the GOP Did Instead

Provide comprehensive reproductive health services before, during, and after pregnancy

Fund family planning and coordinate with prenatal

Defunded family planning, defunded prenatal providers who work with Planned Parenthood

Eliminate health disparities

Universal health care

Denied insurance to 350,000 Ohioans

Prioritize funding based on outcome and cost-effectiveness

Competitive grant process

Instructed ODH to award grants based on politics and ideology

Implement health promotion and education for pregnant women

Have women talk to medical professionals as soon as they’re pregnant

Funded CPCs, who lie to women about pregnancy

Improve data collection

Use insurance actuaries to centralize data

Kept 350,000 Ohioans out of the insurance database

Expand quality improvement initiatives

Use outcome-based payment system

Rejected ODJFS’s waiver to use outcome-based payments

Address the effects of racism on infant mortality

Resuscitating Jim Crow laws certainly doesn’t help

“I don’t want to make blah people’s lives better”

The rest of the post is available at: It includes three additional bar graphs that seem very telling in terms of how the allocation of state funding can be directly linked to life-or-death medical outcomes for newborns.

Of course, Plunderbund is a partisan, Progressive source, and as such, it reflects a profound bias against Right-wing ideology, both in its broader, more theoretical expression and in its specific manifestations in individual pieces of legislation.

But, regardless of how one might counter certain details or elements of the arguments presented in these clearly Progressive posts, they indisputably make the case that the “right-to-life” party ultimately seems to care more about ideology than about life. And if that statement is in itself a partisan assertion, Right-wing legislators across the nation are not making it more difficult for their opponents to make that assertion.

In my leadership roles with AAUP, I have focused only on issues related to higher education, to the preservation of public education, to labor rights, and to public employees, and I have scrupulously avoided focusing on “divisive social issues.” I would never ask members of my chapter or conference to endorse something like a position on abortion rights. I recognize that my views may be more Progressive than those of many of our members—just as they may be less Progressive than those of some other members. I think that our chapters and conferences cannot address effectively the issues That are of most importance to us–that we cannot hope to maintain a consensus on those issues–if we expect our members to have an equal agreement on a much broader spectrum of issues. I am not at all minimizing the importance of any other issues. In the broader scheme of things, some of them very arguably may be more important than the issues on which our chapters and conferences are–and should be– focused. But I am suggesting that if we as individuals wish to be heard on other issues, we should also join the other advocacy groups for whom those issues are of central importance.

So my main purpose here is not to bring abortion rights and all of the issues that have become linked to the battle over those rights into “the discussion.”

Rather, I wish to emphasize that there are some fundamental inconsistencies in the ideology represented both in these pieces of legislation and in other legislation related to the issues of most focal interest to our members. In framing ostensibly “common sense” cases to the broader public, the Far Right has been very effective in highlighting any real and perceived inconsistencies in our positions. It is time that we focused more consistently and persistently on doing the same—in a way that might appeal to the broader public and not just those on our own side. So, in that sense, this post may very well be more of a suggestion than an illustration.

The 2012 Obama campaign succeeded in doing what I am suggesting, but in a presidential election, the “other side” is represented in a candidate who can be characterized much more easily, more vividly, and more pointedly than the opposition in most state or local legislative battles. Therefore, what is required at the state and local levels is a greater attention to the arguments themselves. But on the state and local levels, that may actually be easier to accomplish, for at those levels, the arguments have usually not been vetted by as many consultants and public relations specialists, and the ideological inconsistencies have not been scrubbed to almost nothing by some disciple of Frank Luntz.

3 thoughts on “Ideologies and Strategies

  1. Pingback: So the Haters Are Now Worried about Hate Speech | Academe Blog

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