El Dorado News-Times

Are the women in your state legislatur­e properly attired?

- Jim HigHtower Columnist

Many of today’s right-wing governors and state legislator­s have a problem. By constantly pushing an extremist ideologica­l agenda of nonsense about nutty conspiracy theories — while imposing autocratic laws to ban everything from voting to library books — they’ve become widely ridiculed as some combo of kooky, clownish and embarrassi­ngly incompeten­t.

That’s why it’s significan­t that Missouri’s GOP lawmakers have not only recognized their image problem but have actually made an effort to demonstrat­e that they are serious-minded public officials concerned about their profession­alism. Namely, the state house of representa­tives has adopted a dress code. Seriously.

Specifical­ly, the “attire mandate” addresses the pressing state issue of female lawmakers who come to work dressed normally — but without jackets. Disapprovi­ng legislativ­e leaders clucked that this fashion faux pas was underminin­g the public’s respect for them. But now, says GOP Rep. Ann Kelley, sponsor of the new code, “It has been fixed.” Henceforth, all women legislator­s in the “Show Me” state must wear blazers or cardigans in order to, as Kelley explained, “always maintain a formal and profession­al atmosphere” in the House.

Profession­al? Excuse me, but these far-right state legislatur­es totter between being goofy policy forums and carnival sideshows. The only proper attire for many of these so-called legislativ­e “leaders” would be straitjack­ets. Indeed, trying to rationaliz­e the Missouri legislatur­e’s expenditur­e of state time, money and credibilit­y on dictating women’s attire, Kelley’s GOP colleague Rep. Brenda Shields declared it was about protecting freedom! The clothing mandate, she explained, eliminates the possibilit­y that the state will “be the clothing police.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of moving to Missouri! It must be wonderful to live in a state where the government has already fixed all the big problems people really care about, letting the legislativ­e body focus on properly clothing its women members.


Obviously, the main social problem in America is that Black people run everything and us White folks as a group just can’t get a fair break, right? So says Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

As a lifelong White Texan, I can’t tell you how “amazing” it is to see our governor come out unapologet­ically for a return to old-time institutio­nal bigotry. Absolutely amazing!

Apparently, Abbott fantasizes that hordes of Black people are seizing control of our government, universiti­es, banks, media… and other power centers, shoving aside more qualified and entitled Whites. Going from fantasy to hallucinat­ion, he concludes that this takeover is caused by corporate and government hiring policies that bolster diversity and inclusiven­ess in our society. Even attempting to implement this democratic goal, he barks, is illegal because — get this — it violates federal law against discrimina­tion.

Yes, in GregWorld, fighting discrimina­tion against minorities discrimina­tes against the White majority. So, His Excellency has actually issued an edict directing state agencies and universiti­es to shut down all hiring programs that include diversity goals!

His official injunction declares that deliberate­ly trying to stop excluding minorities from full access to employment opportunit­ies leads to the “alienation of individual­s from the workplace.” He means, of course, that some White people feel alienated by non-White people getting job opportunit­ies — never mind that minorities routinely suffer extreme “alienation from the workplace” — i.e., exclusion.

By the way, Abbott’s attack on diversity not only opens the door to even more job discrimina­tion against Black Americans, but also against women, people with disabiliti­es, LGBTQ+ people, all people of color and veterans. Give him credit: He’s an equal opportunit­y abuser!

Abbott and his right-wing ilk should realize that the price of creating an exclusive society with no diversity is that they would then be stuck living with people like themselves.

Populist author, public speaker and radio commentato­r Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chroniclin­g the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocrati­c elites. Sign up at HightowerL­owdown.org.

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