From the look of it, the 80s are back: neon clothes are all the rage, Madonna has a new album on the way, spandex is fashionable again, and Matthew Broderick is back to channeling Ferris Bueller for television commercials.
Now, don't get me wrong: I like belting out "Like a Prayer" and wearing pink neon spandex as much as the next Material Girl, but there are some 80s memories I could do without: culture wars over women's reproductive rights and pornography, attacks on the the LGBTQ community, the rise of vast income inequality, and the hijacking of the Republican party by the Evangelical Right.
Call me crazy, but did I just see a Delorean whiz by?
Women's reproductive health has never been attacked as aggressively since the 1980s as it has in the past two years: State legislatures Wisconsin, Texas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Ohio, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia, and numerous other states have either attempted to pass or have successfully passed invasive ultrasound bills, 24 to 48 hour waiting periods, fetal personhood and fetal heartbeat bills. Despite running on a "We're going to fix the economy" platform in 2010, the Republicans in Congress dedicated their first three months in office to attempting to defund Planned Parenthood over the organization's abortion services--which, in reality, compromise only 3% of Planned Parenthood's services--through H.R. 217. Not since the Reagan presidency have women seen such unabashed attempts to limit their reproductive rights.
Fighting pornography is also back in style. Rick Santorum announced just last week that if he wins the 2012 election that his first order of business will be to stop internet porn. Personally, I think Santorum should worry more about fixing his own Google issues before his own kids get smart and start searching for their dad on the internet. Too bad Santorum probably thinks all feminists are contraceptive wielding, porn addicted, baby killers--he could learn a thing or two from the 80s Feminist Sex Wars about how successful trying to end the pornography industry is.
Again, we're letting members of the LGBTQ community die due to prejudice. This time though, it's not adults dying from HIV/AIDS, but rather it's LGBTQ teens committing suicide from rampant bullying in schools. Lawmakers in both Kentucky and Maine just voted down anti-bullying bills that would prevent the bullying of LGBTQ students. How are LGBTQ teens supposed to believe "It Gets Better" if legislators are ignoring their cries for help? And, how are Republicans going to continue to justify their attempts to protect fetal rights if conservative legislators aren't protecting the lives of teens simply because of their sexuality?
Like in the 80s, income inequality is on the rise yet again. This time, however, it has moved to the center of the political debate thanks to the efforts of the Occupy Movement. In 2009 and 2010, the wealthiest 1% of Americans saw income gains of over 11%, while the average American only saw a gain of around 2%. College graduates are struggling to launch their careers as they compete against jobless experienced workers--all the while attempting to pay off massive student loan debt incurred when the economy was great and promises of better opportunities thanks to a college degree flowed from the mouths of legislators, parents, college admissions counselors and the media alike.
Finally, we have a re-hijacking of the Republican Party by the Evangelical Right. Instead of focusing on real issues like the economy, terrorism and the wars in the Middle East, presidential candidates Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul are fighting amongst each other to win the "But I'm the most conservative!" game by focusing on issues like abortion, gay marriage, contraception, and pornography. Like in the 80s, the Evangelical Right is shaping the Republican Party's rhetoric. This time, however, it may lead to the end of the Republican Party as we know it, which may not necessarily be a bad thing if it allows for the emergence of a more moderate political movement.
Sorry, but I don't need neon spandex or a new Madonna album if it means reliving the 80s Culture Wars. But, if Doc Brown is still around, I think I'll take a spin in the Delorean to a future free from attacks on contraception, abortion, the LGBTQ community, pornography, and where vast income inequality is a thing of the past.
Follow Tracey E. Vitchers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TraceyEVitchers