For Republicans, ‘Life’ is just a marketing slogan

If Republicans really cared about human lives, they’d do something about guns and COVID.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pro-life groups join supporters and protesters of President Donald Trump rally near Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, during the vice presidential debate.

This week, the Supreme Court heard a direct challenge to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Republicans have been on the march importing the court to overturn the decision in the name of “life.” Their behavior, as usual, doesn’t match their rhetoric.

In response to GOP grandstanding, and in the wake of a school shooting in Michigan that cost three kids their lives, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said, “Do not lecture us about the sanctity, about the importance of life.”

He is right.

The last two years have laid bare that Republican leaders and activists care little about life, but much about power. They’ve used that power, abused that power, or abandoned that power to leave too many Americans sick, dead and dying.

On abortion, Republicans have used life and unborn children as cudgels in their continuing culture war to advance their own interests. Much like those children after they’ve left the womb, fetuses are just objects to be held up in the name of a country most Americans don’t want and fewer believe in.

If Republicans cared about lives, including those of young children, they would do something about the gun culture in the United States. Though they offer empty “thoughts and prayers” the shattered families, they’re empty slogans. When a young man shot three people in Wisconsin while acting as a vigilante, his acquittal on murder charges was hailed by the right as a victory for “freedom.” Those that lost their lives? The thousands that lose their lives every year to gun violence? That’s just the cost of doing business for the GOP.

As the COVID-19 panic swept onto American shores, President Donald Trump downplayed the threat, blamed Democrats, consigned thousands of “blue state” Americans to their deaths. The Republican Party continues to downplay vaccination. They’ve decided mask mandates are a bridge too far, too many people might survive, in Florida, the state is now giving taxpayer money away to those who refuse vaccination.

Nearly 750,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, yet as new variants arise, conservative media blames Democrats, calls them convenient campaign events and downplays the severity of a pandemic that has permanently changed how every American lives their lives. Fox News hosts, all of them vaccinated and boosted, sit in their home studios and rail against the near-miraculous work of doctors and scientists to create a prophylactic against the novel coronavirus.

Why? Because for leaders of the Republican Party, the conservative media and their supporters, Americans are not individuals, they’re objects. Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson don’t see their fans, voters and viewers as people worthy of respect, but just more bodies to pile up like cord wood in the name of their own power and self-aggrandizement. That is not a movement dedicated to “life.”

For decades, the GOP has used the “Right to Life” movement to galvanize evangelical voters and keep them in the tent. “Choice” or “Life” have become litmus tests for both parties. Now is the time, though, for those working to protect American democracy to call the GOP what it is: The party of sickness, chaos, and death. Another gun death, another 10,000 Americans lost to COVID don’t register because to Republican leaders, they’re not seen as human beings anyway. They’re votes, campaign donations, goons at school board meetings. They’re not Americans, they’re means to an end. A very ugly, death-filled end.

Reed Galen, Park City, is a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a pro-democracy organization working to defeat Republican candidates who’ve betrayed the Constitution. You can find him on Twitter @reedgalen.

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