Voter Apathy Is Helping Right-Wing Extremists Win the War On Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is under attack. The 2016 GOP presidential candidates are fanning the flames of anti-abortion terrorists. The Republican Party is fueling incidents of violent extremism taking place at clinic locations across the country.

The talking points from the left are only scratching the surface as to the why of it, but liberal activists aren't offering the most important solution. There's the shaming of GOP presidential candidates for inciting violence and condoning the incendiary and misleading rhetoric about abortion. There's talk of gun violence and how it connects to the recent Colorado attack. There's the outpouring of support for clinic staff and the message that those who are pro-choice won't back down no matter what. These arguments are necessary and shouldn't be ignored. However, there's one talking point that needs to be addressed and repeated over and over again that few, if any, are driving home: The importance of voting.

It's acceptable and even necessary for progressives to point fingers from a reactionary stance and blame the "bad guys," but the cold hard truth is that Democrats are partly to blame for the domestic terrorism against abortion providers. Yes, Democrats.

Bear with me.

Democrats share responsibility because they didn't show up to vote in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, which resulted in a large number of Tea Party politicians winning local and congressional seats. Elected officials have legislative power and the GOP crusade against choice - abortion restrictions as well as the unnecessary TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) that have closed numerous clinics making it impossible for many to obtain safe, legal abortions - has created the current hostile environment. Not only has the GOP created a toxic climate for women seeking this legal medical procedure, but Republican legislators in South Dakota and Nebraska penned bills in 2011 that would have made the murder of abortion providers justifiable homicide.

The apathy on the part of people of conscience has created an environment where lunatics like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) are cheered when they tell us that a perfectly biblical society would execute its abortion providers, and where it's acceptable for presidential candidate Carly Fiorina to lie about abortion practices and then hubristically repeat the lie when confronted with the truth.

It's created an environment where anti-abortion protestors feel it's perfectly acceptable to murder human beings in the name of "pro-life."

Democratic voters are too focused on national/presidential elections, while ignoring the states where reproductive rights are most threatened. Due in large part to voter apathy, members of the Tea Party have allowed the unravelling and erosion of reproductive rights. In the process, they have orchestrated a shift in perception among their very loud and deranged base. While we have always seen hostility from the right regarding choice, the violence has significantly increased in recent months -- specifically since the Center for Medical Progress released a series of deceptively-edited videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of aborted baby parts. The fact that those videos have been debunked by the New England Journal of Medicine as well as at least eight state and federal investigations is meaningless to radical religious zealots who are egged on by their Republican leaders.

Looking back, before the Tea Party started passing and enforcing legislation, this country held progressive views regarding abortion (including many Christians). A teenage character in the popular 1984 movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High had an abortion and there was no public outcry whatsoever. Imagine if that film had been released today. The reaction would be very different, and more than likely, the reaction would be violent. That's because enforced laws have a way of shaping public perception.

When it's legal to discriminate, we see more discrimination and it becomes culturally acceptable. When a form of discrimination is illegal, we see less of it and people are less accepting of it because it's no longer in our purview. Occasionally, a movement can drive legislation, but more often than not, it takes legislation to drive public perception. One example of a movement driving legislation is the fight for marriage equality. Members of the LGBT community and those who support them were able take their movement to the Supreme Court and they won. Within time, gay marriage will have been around long enough that it'll be nationally accepted and we'll see less and less backlash -- unless, that is, Democrats continue to stay home for national and local elections, allowing religious extremists to continue winning. But it's still the legislation that will ultimately create a more tolerant climate regarding gay marriage.

Progressive voters must make the change in the 2016 election. Not only must we elect a progressive, pro-choice president, we need to take back the Senate, the House and we need to replace state legislators with ones who will reverse the damage that's been done regarding reproductive laws since 2011. The radical right will always scream, but when they're stripped of legislative power, they'll only have their voices and those voices will be muted.

It's time for Democrats to face the cold, hard truth and accept responsibility. It isn't enough to simply call out Republicans who are helping domestic terrorists feel they can literally get away with murder. Actions speak louder than words.