We Watched the GOP Debate So You Wouldn’t Have To.

By Erin Weber, Strategy and Policy Manager of State Advocacy

Raise your hand if you’re already over watching the chaos and nothing-burger promises of the GOP debates 🙋🏻‍♀️.

Engaging with primary debates can feel daunting, especially as we look down the barrel of over a year more of presidential candidate promises, fights, and speeches. The National Women’s Law Center Action Fund has your back, though. Whether you watched from start to finish, caught a recap, or couldn’t bring yourself to start the stream, we watched and noted the gender justice issues that rose to the top (or that should have but were framed in an unjust way).

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First, let’s name the thing: Blatant and harmful transphobia continues to run the show in many states, and it will likely rear its ugly head throughout the election season. Now more than ever, we have to call transphobia what it is and protect the right for everyone in the LGBTQI+ community to live free, full lives. And that includes access to health care.  

Health care has been a big issue for voters for decades, and Republicans have taken notice. Wednesday’s GOP debate gave us a glimpse into the dangerous rhetoric that will be amplified throughout the primaries (and likely in down-ballot campaigns across the country). Let’s be clear—denying someone access to health care, like gender-affirming care, has no business in a HEALTH CARE PLATFORM. Attempts to disparage the mental soundness of transgender patients or doubt the love parents have for their transgender kids must be met loudly and head-on.  

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Instead of addressing the supports needed to help students in school, Republicans choose to motivate parents through fear mongering and outright lies. Book bans, revisionist history curricula, and punitive discipline measures don’t protect students, and they don’t help them learn.

Denying students a complete and honest education will only hurt them and stunt America’s growth as a whole. And while not explicitly mentioned Wednesday night, diverting school resources to build a police presence through “school resource officers” (SROs) harms students—particularly girls of color—in a host of ways, from decreases in graduation rates to increased student incarceration.   

We need more resources to support students’ learning and well-being, not more arguments and pearl-clutching around a children’s book featuring same-sex penguins parents and their baby.

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The end of pandemic-era supports have left caregivers and child care programs across the country hanging on by a thread. Even before those supports ended, one in five women with children under the age of 12 were unable to access child care. Now, we’re looking at a country-wide crisis with far-reaching and long-lasting impacts.

It’s easy to bemoan the child care crisis, but we need action. Specifically, we need $16 billion per year of action. Temporary fixes and empathetic platitudes aren’t going to solve this, but sustained, meaningful investment will. 

And remember that the child care crisis doesn’t exist in a vacuum—we also need to improve working conditions and pay for child care workers, require fair work schedules from employers, provide paid leave, and tax the rich their fair share to make it all happen.

There’s a lot to watch coming out of these debates, so make sure you’re following us on Twitter. I’ll be back after the third GOP debate on November 8!