I’m starting to develop a theory concerning politicians, photographs, and pro-family policies. The theory is congealing along this line: The more adorable small children are shown in close proximity to the politician in the campaign photographs, the less likely the politician is to be a true advocate for policies which benefit women and children.
Case in point: Dean Heller’s latest addition to the contents of my mailbox.
This latest contribution is a flyer with nice photos of Senator Heller (R-NV) and lots of nicely clad, well groomed children, all looking familial. Very familial. So, it’s no surprise that the “content” portion of the campaign piece highlights domestic violence; pregnant workers; veterans; and sexual assault survivors.
Lest I become too excited at the prospect of Heller as a prime champion of these causes, it’s time for a bit of context.
About those domestic violence survivors… According to Heller, Heller “broke with his party” to pass the Violence Against Women Act. If we are discussing the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012, then Senator Heller wasn’t exactly the first to line up:
“Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reached a critical point Tuesday, as Nevada Republican Dean Heller became the 60th Senator to cosponsor the legislation. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was introduced in November by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
“The Violence Against Women Act has always been, and continues to be, a bipartisan priority,” said Leahy. “I am grateful that Senator Heller has joined as a cosponsor of this important bill. Every victim of violence deserves to access the resources available through VAWA. Congress should act, without delay, to approve this commonsense legislation.” [IndLaw]
Thus, Senator Heller wasn’t among the first co-sponsors of S. 1925 in 2012, he was more like the 60th, and he voted in favor of the bill’s Senate passage along with 15 other Senate Republicans. Fast forward to 2018 and the VAWA is about to expire in the summer months. Indeed, it is due to expire in September 2018. There are 12 bills related, one directly others tangentially, to the VAWA in the 115th Congress, all have about a 3% chance of passage. HR 6545, the reauthorization for 2018 has about a 7% chance of passage However, Senator Heller is shown in the pictures with lots of nice looking children.
Pregnant workers... I like the title “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.” Although are there any other kinds of pregnant workers than women? Senator Heller says he is working with his colleagues in the Senate on this one, specifically that would be Senator Casey (D-PA) the sponsor of S 1101. The bill has two co-sponsors (Shaheen and Heller) and a 3% chance of passage. Not to put too fine a point to it, but I’m not wagering any portion of my piggy bank contents on this one getting past the committee stage. Senator Heller is shown with several well scrubbed kiddies in the flyer.
America’s Veterans... by Senator Heller’s lights he’s helped over 15k veterans with their issues, however we don’t know, for example, how many of these are directly related to issues with the VA; how many are directly related to health issues? Housing issues? Educational benefits issues? Other issues? Nor do we know when the count started, are we speaking of the last year or for every year Senator Heller has spent in D.C? He’s also claiming “leadership” in resolving VA backlog issues, but then so is every other member of Congress. The jury’s out on this one, but the Senator is shown with children in a nice sylvan setting.
Sexual Assault Survivors... Republicans seem intent on talking about that rape kit testing backlog and I’m all for that. Both paring down that backlog and talking about it. However, I’d be happier still if more Republicans would start talking about preventing sexual assault in the first place. I’m not hearing all I’d like about making reporting instances of assault and molestation easier on the victims. Nor am I hearing as much as I’d prefer about extending the statute of limitations on assault, molestation, and harassment, for the perpetrators of these crimes. And then…there’s the not-so-small-matter of getting firearms out of the mitts of domestic abusers. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a gun. Not only are spouses and ex-spouses abused, but if the situation escalates then the lethality increases five-fold. There are lots of children in that sylvan setting with Senator Heller. What has Senator Heller done to make life safer for the children who aren’t in the photograph?
Then there’s the unspoken part … Planned Parenthood … which Senator Heller would have us “defund.”
Does he know that if a woman doesn’t have medical insurance she can receive low cost or free pre-natal care at a Planned Parenthood facility? Does he realize that Planned Parenthood can help women find affordable health insurance so their children can get off to a good start? Does he understand that Planned Parenthood also supports post partum care? There are some profoundly good reasons for a woman to have a post partum check up and for the infant to get his or her check ups too. Perhaps we could have fewer glossy photos and more attention to providing medical services for more women and their children?
And now I’ll search for more data with regard to my developing theory: The more adorable small children are shown in close proximity to the politician in the campaign photographs, the less likely the politician is to be a true advocate for policies which benefit women and children.