The Hyde Amendment Is Bad And It Is Okay To Say That Joe Biden Liking It Is Bad
Joe Biden's camp announced officially yesterday that he continues to support the Hyde Amendment, a provision which bans federal tax money from going towards abortions.
The Hyde Amendment is bad. It is very, very bad. It is a thing a lot of us have been screaming about for a long time because it means that those in the US military, those on Medicaid, those in the prison system, Native Americans, et al. cannot have their abortions covered by their insurance. It harms people, and it makes it harder for them to get abortions earlier in their pregnancy because they have to "save up" to get one, if they are able to get one at all.
As soon as it was announced, there was an immediate backlash of "This is bad. The Hyde Amendment is bad and people with low-incomes should have just as much ability to control their reproductive futures as anyone else."
And as soon as that happened, there was a subsequent backlash to the backlash (a frontlash?) of "Noooo! You can't say anything bad about Joe Biden because he's basically already the nominee and if you say anything other than 'Oh my god, it's great how super great Joe Biden is' then no one will come out to vote and we'll be stuck with four more years of Donald Trump!" from a few nervous nellies who need to do some yoga breathing, chaps and ladies, please.
There was even one particularly galling tweet I happened across that suggested no one even cared about the Hyde Amendment until yesterday, which certainly came as a surprise to me and everyone else who has been a vocal opponent of the Hyde Amendment lo these many years. Because, again, it is very bad. It's not just wacky lefties like me who oppose it, it is pretty much every other mainstream Democratic candidate, and even the official platform of the Democratic party.
This ... has become a bit of a pattern with anything involving Biden.
It is understandable that people feel nervous. I feel nervous! We're all in a precarious position here and ultimately what we want is for all of this Trump shit to be over and done with, never to be spoken of again. There is a "one false move and it's OVER" feeling in the air. No one wants to mess this up, and a lot of people see Biden as our best chance of ending this shit once and for all, and fear that by criticizing his positions and his past, we'll end up in the same situation we did in 2016.
Biden, what with his possession of a penis and all, is simply not in the same position as was 2016 Hillary Clinton, whose well had been poisoned for decades with sexist bullshit, regardless of whether or not she was progressive enough to bring out lefty Greens and independents. Deservedly or not, Biden has primarily been the recipient of mostly goodwill throughout his career. Not one darn word about how his voice makes anyone's penis retract or how he sounds like he's telling anyone to "take out the garbage." He is starting out in a far better position to deal with criticism than Hillary Clinton was, because sexism.
Additionally, I hate to break it to everyone, but it is hardly as if no one is going to notice that Joe Biden isn't exactly Elizabeth Warren if no one ever points it out. He's not pretending to be. He's also not pretending to be a blank slate upon which everyone can impose their own hopes and dreams of a Trump-free America. He has positions. He has stances. He has a past that is good in some ways and bad in others. He cannot be all things to all people.
And if we can criticize the other candidates on their positions, stances and past we can darn well say, "Hey, this thing Joe Biden is in favor of is bad and we don't like it." We can say "Hey, we're still pissed about Anita Hill and the 1994 Crime Bill and the history of opposing 'busing,' too" and he should do us the courtesy of addressing those things properly if he wants to be the nominee.
If you want the truth about human nature, telling people they can't criticize someone is only ever going to make them want to criticize them more. If you want an even tougher truth, that is an even bigger poison pill than actually criticizing someone for a specific thing or disagreeing with them on a specific issue. It's also nowhere near as big a poison pill as "Oh gosh, there's just something I don't like about them, I can't quite put my finger on it." Anyone can get over specific challenges, specifics are easy to deal with. With a specific issue, they can change their mind or they can offer an explanation. It's the vague shit that'll kill you.
If Biden does become the nominee, maybe a little bit of vetting in this way is a good thing. Maybe (just maybe), being super clear about what we're not into might push Biden to change his mind about some things. Like the Hyde Amendment. Which, again, is very very bad. Maybe he can listen to some of the reasons that people oppose it, and maybe he will understand why it is important for those whose health insurance is provided by the government to be able to have their abortions covered. Maybe he will understand the harm that comes when people are unable to access that care.
And wouldn't that be nice?
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse