Another day, another team photo of the GOP celebrating together in a white-male photo shoot, as they prepare to strip away rights of women and protections for the most vulnerable. And another blunt reminder of why 1. political representation matters, and 2. few women in the room means the concerns of women get left out.
This time around, the man party was in celebration of House Republicans pushing through a health care bill they threw together in an effort to save face, without bothering to allow the Congressional Budget Office to fully evaluate its costs and impact and lay them before the American people — much less the legislative body, some of whom admit to not reading the bill.
It turns out that the people who will see their health coverage change for the worse — women, the poor, the old and the non-white — weren’t really seen in the photo (although lots of the men in the picture are older, they cancel out that vulnerability by being mainly rich). In one version of the picture, there appear to be two women hidden behind men in the image; in another larger group shot, there are several women at the edges of a densely packed man group of dozens.
Here are the striking numbers: There are 238 members of the House Republican conference, and just 21 of them are women (that’s less than 9%). As for Democrats in the House, 62 of the 193 members are women (that’s 32%).
In the 2016 presidential election, there was a lot of talk about whether representation mattered. Some accused Hillary Clinton voters of voting with their vaginas. Some implored Americans to put gender aside and vote for the best person for the job — even as Trump bragged about groping women and ran a campaign of aggrieved misogyny, blatantly appealing to angry white men.
Now, the white guys are as in charge as they’ve ever been — and they’re using their power to improve their own lot at the rest of our expense.
Were Congress 51% female, it’s hard to imagine they would have passed a bill that lets states treat pregnancy as a pricey medical luxury rather than a normal part of most women’s lives — that is, covered as an “essential benefit.”
It’s hard to imagine the bill would have allowed insurers in some states to treat injuries caused by rape or domestic violence as preexisting conditions and raise women’s premiums accordingly.
Were there more people of color in the Republican Congress, one imagines this bill wouldn’t be so devastating to the poor — the poor in the US still being disproportionately black and brown.
Elizabeth Warren has famously said that if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. Rich, older white men, who benefit handsomely from this health care bill, are dining well. And the rest of us are watching our basic right to get care for our minds and bodies eaten away.