Extremist agendas in Jeff City affect St. Louis

Missouri has one abortion clinic left, in St. Louis, but probably not for long.

It’s illegal to carry a gun on MetroLink or buses, and in schools, churches, and day care centers, but probably not for long.

St. Louisans’ votes were overwhelming against “right-to-work” and for transparent government, but probably not for long.

Anti-abortion extremists, gun extremists, and big money extremists are busily implementing a hard right-wing agenda in Jefferson City that spits in the face of city voters by outlawing abortion, flooding the streets with more guns, and hiding lawmakers’ financial ties to wealthy conservative backers and political action committees.

People horrified by Donald Trump and his white nationalist political “philosophy” sometimes wonder, in the dead of night, what would happen to America if the entire government, like Gilead in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” were run by an overwhelming majority of religious fanatics and Trump supporters. To see at that horrible fantasy fully functioning in miniature, all you have to do is look at Jefferson City.

The radical anti-abortion bill currently grinding its way through the legislature is the prime example. The proposal would outlaw abortion in five different ways, including after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, which would make abortion illegal after five or six weeks of pregnancy. Under Roe v. Wade, the idea is illegal, which is why the anti-abortion extremists introduced it in the first place.

They’re hoping the measure will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, where Trump-appointed anti-abortion justices will use it to overturn Roe. The Missouri proposal says, if that happens, all abortions would immediately be outlawed in the state.

Outlawing abortion, of course, will not reduce the number of abortions. It would merely close St. Louis’s Planned Parenthood Clinic, make women who get abortions criminals, and force those women to either give birth, or have illegal and possibly unsafe abortions.

But the rural GOP super-majority in Jeff City is used to lying about the effects of their legislation. Take the so-called “carry anywhere” proposal that seems headed for passage despite the opposition of every St. Louis politician and law enforcement official.

Carry anywhere means exactly what it says. It would allow anyone, without a license or training, to carry a weapon anywhere, including in day care centers, houses of worship, schools, stadiums, and mass transit. St. Louis police are already hamstrung by Missouri’s gun laws that took effect in 2017, laws that forbid police from seizing guns unless the person’s a convicted felon. Just ask city cops how many times they’ve been forced to let suspected gangbangers or dope slingers with no felony convictions keep their firepower.

Under the carry anywhere law, police would be powerless to arrest anyone for having a gun on MetroLink or city buses. They would be forced to let people carry guns at the Zoo, in hospitals, in schools, in churches, synagogues and mosques, and in day cares.

Its GOP supporters keep a straight face when they say “carry anywhere” would prevent crime, when the opposite is true. An extremist proposal like this will put even more guns on the streets of St. Louis, and will make all of us less safe.

Then, there’s “right to work,” which city residents rejected by an 88 percent majority. The legislature is trying to slide the anti-union proposal into law by the back door, proposing that individual counties can implement right to work if they choose. If the will of the majority is neither right-wing not extremist, it’s apparently meaningless to the rural white people who run Missouri’s legislature.

The same is true of the Clean Missouri proposal, which state voters approved with 62 percent of the vote, and city voters OK’d by a far larger margin. Clean Missouri not only takes the power to draw legislative districts out of the hands of politicians, it also requires transparency in government records and in fund-raising.

But right-wing lawmakers have already started to exempt themselves from the transparency and open records requirements, weakly claiming they’re “protecting the privacy” of constituents with whom they correspond.  What they’re really doing, of course, is trying to hide communications about possibly questionable fundraising and protect the names of their anonymous big-money donors.

The contempt rural, white state lawmakers have for the city, its opinions, and its diverse residents has never been very well hidden. This session, that contempt is on full display.

Charles Jaco

Author: Charles Jaco

Charles Jaco is a journalist and author. He has worked for NBC News, CNN, KMOX, KTRS, and Fox 2. He is best known for his coverage of the first Gulf War, and for his "legitimate rape" interview with Senate candidate Todd Akin. He is the winner of three George Foster Peabody Awards, and the author of four books.

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