The Politics of Hate

Politics of HateYesterday, the efforts to restore prenatal care to all low-income women in Nebraska in this legislative session came to an end.   The Legislature passed an amendment that may help a handful of women access prenatal care who were cut off on March 1st and are victims of domestic violence.  We are obviously glad to see critical prenatal care restored to any low-income women.  But ultimately, the failure of first the Governor and then the Legislature to maintain Nebraska’s decades old policy of ensuring the health of all low-income babies in this state is a abdication of our values.

To be clear, this is not at all the end of this issue.  As we have said repeatedly, the Governor could choose tomorrow to do the right thing and ensure that each child born in Nebraska has a chance at a healthy start in life.  Until that happens, we will continue to work on this issue, as will so many others, to document the human and financial toll this bad policy choice will wreak on Nebraska families and our communities.

What is perhaps most disturbing is that the politics of hate have prevailed so easily thus far.  Political leaders in our state seem to think that most Nebraskans hate immigrants more than they want to protect these young vulnerable lives.  If they are right about that, it is a sad and disturbing commentary on the kind of place Nebraska has become.  But our experience at Appleseed tell us that they are wrong; that Nebraska is still a place where people are kind and reasonable and can appreciate more than a sound bite.  Nebraskans want the leadership of this state to stand up to the small but loud minority of those who propagate fear and hate in our communities and focus instead on a rational, fiscally responsible, and humane public policy.

It is our responsibility as organizations and individuals that know providing prenatal care is the right thing to do, to keep this issue in the forefront.   So many senators stood up yesterday and said they wanted to restore prenatal care for all low-income women.  If that commitment is genuine, there will be a solid foundation for legislation next year.  I’m hopeful that if the Governor continues to refuse to act, the Legislature will do the right thing for low-income families, our communities and the future of our state.

But it doesn’t change this lost opportunity.  And it can’t take back whatever the longer term ramifications will be of allowing a small minority of voices promoting fear and hate to prevail.

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