Melissa Gilbert, star of Little House on the Prairie, was planning on running for Congress when she announced her bid in late 2015.
I’m running for Congress to make life a little easier for all the families who feel they have fallen through the cracks in today’s economy. I believe building a new economy is a team effort, and we need to bring fresh voices to the table to get the job done.
She was attempting to unseat the Republican incumbent, Mike Bishop. Instead of engaging in a talk about policy, Bishop immediately attacked Gilbert by claiming she was a “tax cheat,” and saying that she has a stylist for her dog while dodges paying taxes.
The irony of a Republican complaining about someone not paying enough taxes is immense. Gilbert did owe some back taxes, due to career bumps in her acting plus a divorce, and has already settled on a payment plan with the IRS.
Fast forward just a bit to May of this year. Gilbert’s doctors said that it was medically impossible for her to continue in her congressional campaign for health reasons. In 2012, she had a fall and injury while she competed on Dancing With the Stars. Barely a few weeks after that, she was under a balcony when it collapsed. These left her with some permanent health issues.
Gilbert released the following statement:
My doctors said there’s no way for me to continue to deal with the incredibly rigorous demands of a congressional campaign without continuing to do harm to my body.
Gilbert planned on dropping out and allowing someone to take her place on the ballot. No big deal. Right?
As with all things when it comes to a woman and decisions about her own body, Republicans quickly intervened. They are now suing to force her to stay in the congressional race.
Yes, she could end up doing major permanent harm to herself if she stays in the race and continues to try to campaign to win. She would be required to travel extensively if she did win, as well. Who knows? She could end up permanently disabled.
Gilbert could resign if she were to win, but that could possibly allow a Republican to re-take the office. She could also just never show up to work and stay home for her entire term, but that would be a sick betrayal of her supporters. Either way, it would be a pointless gesture for her to continue.
While Republicans can’t tie her down and force her at gunpoint to be a congresswoman, what options do they give her? Abandon your people? Get paid to never go to work? If she tried to fulfill her job responsibilities, she could end up in a wheelchair for all anyone knows. They’re forcing her to try to stay in, regardless of how technical you want to get on this one.
Under Michigan law, a congressional candidate can withdraw after winning the nomination if she has become physically unfit. Republicans do not care, because when it comes to a woman’s health and body, they think they have the final say.
Lawyers for the Republican party say that Gilbert did not adequately prove that she was unfit to serve, citing Congressman Jim Langevin, who is a quadriplegic. What Republicans ignore, as usual, is that Langevin was a quadriplegic before he was elected to office. He sustained an injury in 1980, and his first election to the U.S house was in 2001. The whole point of this is that Gilbert doesn’t want to worsen her condition, yet Republicans felt they could decide, yet again, what a woman can and can’t do with her own body.
I guess Republicans think it’s acceptable if Gilbert ends up a quadriplegic as well, since women are just “things” to them and they have no value as people.
If her Republican male opponent snorted too much crushed Viagra off the back of a $10,000 hooker, and had some “health issues” leading to him dropping out, I would bet any money they would try to justify it and attack any attempts Democrats would make to keep him on the ballot as “inhumane.”
** Update ** Good news friends. New information was published recently showing that the Michigan election board slapped Republicans back hard on this one, and will NOT be listening to their request to force an injured woman to do a job she can’t physically handle. Regardless of the happy outcome, Republican shame hangs heavy on them in this case.