The Dry Rot in Our Democracy
The civil rights leader, Whitney Moore Young said, “The unhealthy gap between what we preach in American and what we often practice creates a dry rot at the foundation of our democratic ideals and values.”
I’m going to begin today with the dry rot, but I promise I will get somewhere more hopeful by the end!
Rhia Ventures, a VC focused on reproductive health care, has a growing database of corporations and their coverage for abortion care here.
AT&T is listed in the database as one of the corporations that pledged to reimburse employees’ travel costs more than 100 miles from where they live.
At the same time, AT&T is funding anti-abortion politicians up and down the ballot to get legislation favorable to them. They call these “investments in corporate interests.” Regular people call them bribes.
You’re not really surprised, are you? Like all large corporations, AT&T has an HR department providing benefits to employees that now includes coverage to travel for abortion services. Employees are their greatest assets, and they need to encourage them to stay, particularly in banned states. AT&T also has 50 corporate PACs, state-based piggy banks for politicians to dip into and ensure support for policies AT&T wants.
Protecting our rights is not what corporations are in the business of doing. We can bend them to use their political and financial capital to support human rights, but they will eventually bend right back. One recent example is how quickly they went back to funding the seditionists.
This is the dry rot at the heart of our democracy.
Overturning Roe has put women’s rights not only in the hands of corporations but of state governments as well. You only have to look at Georgia, where pregnant people on parole will have to ask permission of their parole and probation officers to leave the state to access care, to see where this could lead.
The bottom line is that women in half the country will be asking for permission for fundamental health care from their employers and state governments. This is the dry rot of our democracy and it really isn’t an exaggeration to call this a totalitarian state.
But don’t despair (at least not too much) there is a way out of this mess. I’ll show you.
States that are banning abortions are also states in which it is difficult to vote, and states that provide the least amount of support for women and children are states where corporations have more rights than people. The best thing we can do to begin to address all of these inequities is... to elect more women everywhere.
We need to be very strategic right now, and that means getting to the essence of our problems, the causes of them not just the results. Our problems begin with the fact that we don’t have enough women in elected office from town councils all the way up to Congress.
Compare these maps of abortion rights and rates of elected women – they match up almost identically. Banned states have low levels of elected women, and vice versa.
3 Things to Do This Week
Get your teens registered to vote! September 19-23 is High School Voter Registration Week. Of course, they can register to vote now, too. Anyone can go to vote.org to check their registration status and register to vote. If your kids are going to school in purple or red states, have them register there and get their abortion pills in advance from AidAccess!
Sign up to help correct ballots. Volunteers are needed to help “cure” ballots in 28 states. Go to the Election Hotline and sign up to help voters fix their ballots and resubmit them to get counted.
Thank an elected woman. This isn’t trite or just “nice.” Being an elected woman is often brutal personally and professionally. They are harassed and physically threatened, particularly online, at far greater rates than men, particularly online. As a result, women do not run for re-election at the same rate as men. We need more women to run, and to run for re-election. Thank an elected woman. Tell her we have her back. Encourage her to stay and keep fighting.
Kansas Update. I will provide an analysis of the Kansas vote for abortion rights on Tuesday later in the week. As a reminder, tomorrow Kansans are voting on a ballot initiative to take abortion rights out of the state constitution. Please remember what difficult terrain this is for abortion rights. Kansas has been home to the most extreme anti-choice activists, including the 2009 murder of an abortion clinician. This isn’t horseshoes -- coming close won’t mean a hill of beans for people who will not be able to get health care when Kansas bans abortion. However, the amazing grassroots efforts to get out the vote to support abortion rights is a starting point for rebuilding political power in states where we have lost a lot of ground over the past few decades.
Thank you, Alison. So appreciate your leadership.