Rather than forcing open debate over these problematic aspects of the reauthorization, many within the GOP have cowed to accusations that they are waging a “war against women.” Thus, following his announcement that Republicans would not filibuster the VAWA, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed “We’re all in favor of the Violence Against Women Act… there’s nothing to fight about.”
The Republicans who lent support to the reauthorization in its current form may have side-stepped a politically dangerous issue for now, but in succumbing to political pressure and demagoguery, they have only encouraged more of the same. Republicans would be foolish to think that the use of pejorative and inflammatory labels against them will end with the VAWA.
Furthermore, in granting unconditional support to fundamentally flawed legislation, Senators have failed to live up to their trust as representatives to promote the public good.
No bill should receive unconditional support just because the intentions behind it seem noble. If legislators truly care about protecting victims of violence--rather than just appearing to care about protecting victims of violence--they should be willing to openly and honestly deliberate over the most effective and efficient way of achieving this goal.
In so easily acquiescing to the climate of fear surrounding deliberation of gender-related issues, submissive Republicans share the blame for the negative consequences of the flawed legislation their capitulation helps to support.
If Senators fold so easily on an issue like the VAWA, how will they deal with the equally daunting challenges posed by out of control spending, an imploding debt, and safety net programs on the brink of insolvency? Just as with VAWA, those calling for bigger government will do so under the name of helping women and use the same demagoguery to tar their opponents.
America’s future wellbeing depends on leaders who will courageously and candidly address the difficult issues facing our country. Based on the Senate’s recent passage of the VAWA, it seems that such leadership is in short supply. Hopefully members of the House will be more courageous and prudent in making improvements to the law.