The modern mediasphere has largely evolved into an endless feeding frenzy as ambitious voices skirmish with each other to attract the most attention with the most incendiary take. This occasionally produces some truly profound analyses, but by and large, the vast majority of the results are the essence of idiocy manifest in text.
Nowhere was that more clear than in the debate over whether or not Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) should be allowed to bring her newborn child on to the Senate floor to cast votes this morning. While cranky old Republicans quietly groused at having to allow babies on the floor, commentators on the right took to Twitter to present their carefully articulated complaints about why she shouldn’t be allowed to do that.
The worst by far came from Richard Armande Mills, a writer for the Koch Brother-funded libertarian astroturf chudgroup Turning Point USA, known best for their bizarre adult diaper demonstration, and for right-wing propaganda outlet the Daily Caller.
Mills declared that he was worried that Duckworth would “weaponize” her baby to influence legislation, which he worried wasn’t “fair.”
Duckworth could potentially “weaponize” her baby because infants haven’t previously been allowed in this arena. What if she uses the presence of her child to influence legislation? I don’t think that’s fair. It’s a perfectly reasonable question. I’m not attacking working Moms. https://t.co/vZPF4W8mr5
— Richard Armande Mills (RAM) (@RAMRANTS) April 19, 2018
There is no reason why Duckworth shouldn’t use her baby to influence legislation. The average age of the Senate is 61 years old; eight Senators are above the age of 80; a full 25% of the entire body is above the age of 70. Our government is dominated by old, rich, white men who likely never even had to take care of their own children when they were young enough to have the chance – and so don’t see the need for those programs at all. The majority of our elected officials are millionaires who are entirely out of touch with what the difficulties that the average American has to struggle with.
It appears Mills’ biggest concern is that Duckworth might use her baby to remind the Senate that women in America disproportionately shoulder the burden of child-rearing labor.
Many do it themselves, sacrificing their own ability to earn money for the family, which makes it difficult to hold down full-time employment. Others stay in their careers by paying for someone else to care for the child, which then drains the family of needed resources and contributing to the “wage gap” that right-wingers like Mills love to claim doesn’t exist. Either way, the responsibility almost always falls on women’s shoulders.
Viewed through this lens, we need more babies on the floor of the Senate, not less. American mothers deserve to have generous paid maternity leave to care for their newborns at the most crucial developmental stage of their lives. American fathers deserve paternity leave as well, so that they can contribute their labor towards alleviating the burden on the mother.
Once the child is a little older, they deserve to have universal kindergartens to attend so the parents can return to work and resume their roles as economically productive citizens.
Our Senate is controlled by decrepit conservative white men who have sat so long in their seats they have long stopped listening to the demands of their voters. They wither away and jealously guard their taxpayer-bought perks, benefits, and healthcare while attempting to sell off everything that’s not nailed down to the highest private-sector bidder. It’s long past time we got some mothers in there to represent the interests of women and children.
The internet, of course, had a field day piling on Mills and castigating him for his deplorable comment. Here are just a few for you to enjoy.
what if the baby's first words are "i command Mike Pence to officiate a biracial gay sharia wedding?" nobody can say no to a baby
— being bean to bar while my man plays 2k (@McLeemz) April 19, 2018
First, ‘weaponize’ is hyperbolic. Second, any legislators who don’t think of the impact their votes have on children NEED a reminder. Stare that baby in the eye when you vote to destroy the environment. Allow guns in schools. Slash Medicare. LOOK. RIGHT. IN. THE. EYES.
— Urbaneab (@urbaneab) April 19, 2018
the only way to stop a bad woman with a baby is a good woman with a baby
— tommydaily (@djamesalicious) April 19, 2018
Our senators literally turn off their phones and ignore the very people who voted for them. Unless the baby is throwing wads of cash at the senators, I don’t see how the presence of an infant could possibly change how they will vote on issues.
— MommaKay425 (@mommakay425) April 19, 2018
No it isn't
I've seen a sack of hammers smarter than you
— 'punished' 1984 reader (@NormsRespecter) April 19, 2018
On another note, if you do actually believe that this new mother is intentionally and maliciously using her child for her own political gain, I can give you the number to a number of therapists that would love to work with you.
— Tyler Gehman (@TylerGehman1) April 20, 2018