Columns » Autumn Tolbert

Hey ladies



Arkansas is a solidly red state. We are near the bottom and poised to drop even lower in education and life expectancy; but, if white women would stop voting for conservative candidates, we could change that. Before you try to argue that "not all white women" support the GOP, take a breath. I'm a white woman who does not support the GOP. But, across the country, more of us voted for Donald Trump than for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The same trend looks to hold true in the midterms in Arkansas. For the past few years, I've watched centrist Democrats try to coddle their way into winning over conservative women. It isn't working. It is time for tough love. Because I'm a white woman who was raised in a conservative, evangelical community, I'll take a shot and tell my fellow white women that it is high time you stop voting for a party that does not value the health and education of your children.

I'll start with health care. I am flabbergasted when I see those of you with chronically ill children supporting GOP candidates who literally laughed and celebrated the vote to cut insurance to women and children. Why would you support a candidate who wants to bring back lifetime caps on coverage or denials based on pre-existing conditions? Have you ever looked at the amount we spend on health care in the United States? Why is our life expectancy so low? Have you taken a hard look at how much money the GOP receives in donations from insurance companies and medical groups?

Canada and Great Britain have both had a form of single-payer health care for decades. We should join them. Before you try to tell me the story of your co-worker's cousin's husband's brother who died waiting for heart surgery in Canada, remember that people die every single day in the United States waiting for care. Personally, I am tired of worrying how to pay emergency room bills for my children while still paying insurance premiums and co-pays every month. I bet you are, too. Medical bankruptcies after a serious illness and GoFundMe campaigns to pay for life-saving medical treatments should not be the norm. We should be electing progressive candidates who want to move us toward single-payer care. Stop voting for GOP candidates who are more interested in protecting the insurance companies' bottom lines and giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Arkansans than making sure your children have access to treatment.

On to education. The majority of kids in Arkansas go to public schools. During the last legislative session, Arkansas GOP legislators led the effort to take tax dollars away from public schools and give the funds to private schools, as if our public schools have too much money. If you are not paying attention to what is going on in the Little Rock School District, you should. The state took over the district, dissolved the elected school board, and is selling off schools and trying to weaken the teachers union, all with the approval of Governor Hutchinson. On the other hand, Hutchinson's Democratic opponent, Jared Henderson, supports public schools with a plan to raise teacher pay across the state. Hutchinson, while supporting tax cuts for the rich, called Henderson "an out-of-touch liberal." Is supporting fair wages to the men and women who spend all day teaching our kids "out of touch?" Do you really want to give millionaires more tax cuts while your children's teachers work second jobs? That's what you will get if you keep voting for Republicans.

The GOP wants you to believe that if you support the Democratic Party candidates, you support a radical agenda. Don't be fooled by that nonsense. The 2018 Democratic Party candidates in Arkansas are nurses, teachers, cancer survivors and parents to public school children. The head of the Arkansas Democratic Party is a soybean farmer, for heaven's sake. They aren't crazy radicals trying to take your guns away or lock up your sons for unsubstantiated rape charges as the Republicans want you to believe. The GOP has become the party of big business and the rich. They use fear to try to convince you otherwise. For example, if your preacher, or candidate, or the pundits on Fox News have you convinced that supporting Democratic Party candidates means you are supporting baby killers, think again. Research the links between greater access to health care, birth control, comprehensive sex education, paid parental leave and fair wages to lowered abortion rates. Which party promotes the types of policies that lead to fewer abortions? It's not the GOP.

So, to all the white women out there, if you want your kids to have quality public schools and access to health care that doesn't leave you bankrupt or dependent on the open pocketbooks of others, get with the program and vote with the women of color. When you go to your polling place this year, go alone. Don't vote for the GOP candidates. Vote for progressives. Vote for Democrats. Do it for yourselves and for your kids. Do it for Arkansas. Your husbands and preachers never have to know.

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