Happy Easter! This Sunday is a holy day for millions of Americans, who pause their busy lives to participate in traditions forged by ancient religious text and cultural evolution. Inspired by a message of love and kindness, people worship, reflect, hunt for Easter eggs, enjoy big family dinners… and then in far too many cases, return to the work of demonizing and denying human rights to millions of their fellow citizens, while pushing millions more into poverty.
Over the last 50 years, the Religious Right has hijacked Christianity in America, turning the pulpit intended to preach love and charity into a platform for hate speech and punishing capitalist propaganda. Huckster preachers like Jerry Falwell and organizations like Focus on the Family have weaponized faith and its intimate place in people’s psyche to create generations of soldiers in a war on women, LGBTQ Americans, racial minorities, and anyone who cannot afford massive donations to their ministries.
To help them in this hijacking of America, they have trained and financed several generations of radical politicians, who have passed decades worth of laws that have hurt Americans in every possible way. Thanks to Donald Trump, they have more power than ever before — but as we are seeing, our energy and determination is already starting to change that. Just look at how we beat Roy Moore, the pedophile Bible-thumper who everyone thought would be the next senator from Alabama!
This week, we’re taking aim at some of the most intolerant “Christian” lawmakers, who are really false prophets. They may be tweeting Bible verses on Easter, but they’re preaching hate and afflicting the powerless, so it’s time they’re taught a lesson.
Ryan Watts vs Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC)
Rep. Mark Walker, of North Carolina’s 6th congressional district, is the head of the influential Republican Study Committee. What do they study? How to make life hell for anyone that’s not a god-fearing straight white man born into wealth.
He’s a former Baptist minister who went to Congress to do things like call his female colleagues “eye candy,” support any and all anti-LGBTQ laws, fight against Obamacare, pick fights with Bruce Springsteen, joke about starting wars with Mexico, and even try to take support away from baby ducklings.
Running against him is Ryan Watts, a young Democrat who would provide a breath of fresh air and new energy to stodgy old Washington. He’s already a senior management consultant and runs leadership seminars for groups like Boys & Girls Club, and is focused on economic development, not discriminating against anyone who doesn’t belong to a country club.
His issues page talks about protecting women in the workplace, equal pay for equal work, and guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose, all of which stand in stark contrast to Walker, to say the least. He’s also for a Medicare public option and gun control, making him a mainstream progressive.
Renee Hoagenson vs Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, of Missouri’s 4th district, was called “the most anti-gay candidate in the country” when she first ran for office, and during her tenure in Washington she has lived up to that billing. And it’s not just the LGBTQ community that she has worked to punish. Not by far.
Hartzler boasts a perfect score from the National Association of Awful Monsters, for taking up every vile far-right position possible over the last decade. She’s a birther, anti-gay marriage, voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, voted in favor of cutting food stamps, supports Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” pushed hard to have transgender soldiers banned from the military (she actually equated them to Putin, North Korea and ISIS) and voted against hate crime legislation. She is literally the worst.
Running against her is Renee Hoagenson, a single mother and businesswoman who is pushed toward a progressive platform by her Catholicism. OK, so her website isn’t much to look at, but her positions are firmly in our wheelhouse. She believes in Medicare for All, forcing pharmaceutical companies to pay their fair share in combating the opioid crisis they helped start, and ending partisan redistricting. And this passage, from her website’s section about family values, really speaks to the difference in both the candidates in this race, and the larger cultural conflict still raging in America.
“To reverse the decline of family values we must first create more good-paying jobs and increase wages for the thousands of Missourians whose wage increases have been outpaced by inflation,” she writes. “When our parents can afford to spend more time with their children they will have the time to help rebuild the moral foundation of our country.”
Lauren Underwood vs. Randy Hultgren (R-IL)
All you need to know about Randy Hultgren, the congressman from Illinois’ 14th district, is that he said in 2010 that he believes in Intelligent Design. That should enough to disqualify him for national office. It’s insane, but what’s crazier is that he has also been recognized for his work promoting science and STEM education. So what are we to make of this guy?
Well, whatever his stance on the evolution might be, he’s clearly a regressive vote on just about every other issue. He’s an Evangelical Christian who believes God guided him through his initial race for Congress, and presumably, thinks the big man upstairs told him to oppose green energy policies, work against a woman’s right to choose and stem cell research, vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and fight to dismantle Obamacare. He chairs the National Prayer Breakfast, but after finishing his omelet, goes to work to make life miserable for just about everyone.
His opponent is Lauren Underwood, a nurse and Obama administration alum who we have already profiled here at Progressives Everywhere. The 31-year-old teaches nurses in a Georgetown online course and works full-time for a Medicaid plan in Chicago, helping low-income families get the medical treatment they need. Plus, she was born with a heart condition, so any attempt to undo Obamacare is not just political to her — it’s personal.
Underwood is also focused on bringing down prescription drug costs and increasing access to health care, because as every progressive (or anyone who has used the American healthcare system) knows, Obamacare should have been just the start, not a high water mark of universal health care. She is on the opposite side of Hultgren on just about every issue, and is building a great coalition in Illinois after winning the Democratic primary.