Brand-name corporations willingly finance hordes of anti-choice candidates as part of an obscenely cynical political bargain in which "pro-life" morphs into "pro-corporate." After all, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, et al. don't have ground troops, nor do they have a winning political message for their own self-serving agenda ("Hey everyone, what say we save Exxon from the whales? And let's protect poor Wall Street from Elizabeth Warren, too!").
The greedheads need boneheaded candidates who'll go to extremes ("Protect the holy sperm!") to gin up their ideological base, get elected, and then dutifully serve the corporate interests. That's exactly how the tea party is being used. The same corporate giants also finance ALEC, which has written and pushed many bills to take reproductive rights away from women (the House sponsor of the 20-week abortion ban in Texas is the state chair of ALEC).
But another well-funded group, Americans United for Life (AUL), has become the primary legislative front group for the anti-choicers, hawking the most extreme program. It's not only intent on criminalizing abortion, but it was also the instigator in 2011 of the national witch hunt trying to destroy Planned Parenthood. Claiming to be a "charity," AUL shyly and slyly refuses to tell us where it gets its money.A movement arises
Anti-abortion absolutists like AUL, along with yahooing legislators who serve them, are exultant: "We're winning everything!" they exclaim. A two-legged ego like Rick Perry has even calculated that he can ride the women-bashing wave all the way to the White House in 2016.
But a Wisconsin Republican lawmaker who personally supports more restraints on women's rights has seen the national polls, felt the pulse of La Publica, and senses a rising political reality: "All we're going to do is panic people, and this is going to blow up if we don't begin to moderate some of this stuff."
Sometimes you lose when you "win," because you get to sipping your own bathwater and thinking it's champagne. In Texas, for example, the Republican roughshodders have not only created a legitimate gubernatorial contender in Wendy Davis (if she chooses to run), but more significantly, they've revived a movement that's much bigger than they are. As an old Texas saying puts it: "Don't piss off momma. If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
In particular, it's the younger Texans -- men as well as women -- who're newly focused on this abusive power elite. As my longtime friend Cecile Richards, national president of Planned Parenthood, correctly called it: "They have energized a whole new generation of young activists, and for that I'm grateful."
It's that movement that matters. It's fueled by the progressive populist spirit of ordinary but strong women who will not be put down. As Davis said of them in July, "[they] deserve to determine the direction of their lives, deserve to be recognized as full people, capable of making decisions. The fight for the future of Texas has just begun."
And for the future of America.