The ‘Spare Tire’ philosophy of government

In the wake of the 2010 midterms, far-right Republicans have more power in state legislatures than any time in recent memory, and many are choosing to exercise that power by attacking women’s reproductive rights.

That’s especially true in Kansas, where as the last act of their legislative session, state lawmakers passed a law prohibiting insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in their general health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk.

A pro-choice Republican raised the concern that Kansan women may be forced to buy abortion-only policies, before they know they might need one. Rape victims, for example, may be impregnated, and unless the victim purchased her own abortion-only insurance plan, terminating the pregnancy wouldn’t be covered.

Tanya Somanader noted the response from state Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R), a champion of the proposal, who compared rape victims to those who get flat tires.

During the House’s debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told [Bollier]: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”

Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”

“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”

Obviously, I’d like to think most sane, reasonable people would consider arguments like these disgusting. But this ridiculous lawmaker’s argument — “I have a spare tire in my car” — seems to encapsulate a much broader line of thought that’s common in Republican circles.

Just looking over some posts from earlier today, there are other examples in which the GOP seems to think it’s up to individuals to “plan ahead in life” and put “spare tires” in their cars. For example, if you’re a senior citizen, and your former employer doesn’t offer health care coverage to retirees, well, tough. You can either suffer or move to some other country that cares for its elderly.

If you’re in a community that’s hit by a natural disaster, maybe you should have planned ahead.

The underlying Republican message isn’t subtle: you’re on your own. Americans don’t look out for one another; we’re supposed to look out for ourselves. I’m not my brother’s keeper; what happens to my brother is up to him.

“United we stand, divided we fall”? The GOP thinks that’s backwards — we stand stronger when we stand by ourselves.

Pick your metaphor: we’re not all in the same boat. There is no safety net. Put a spare tire in your car.