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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Still Don’t Get It



I must have missed a memo somewhere. It’s getting increasingly clear to me that, while I used to be on the liberal train, I seem to have fallen off somewhere and gotten lost in the weeds of right-leaning neutrality.
Media girl writes a post including a rebuke to someone who suggested that women’s “pet issues” are undermining the Democratic party. You can read the whole post (that has a lot of extraneous stuff), but the relevant part is:
There's a saying out here
"Don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining." Yet that's what it sounds like so many of you all are trying to do.
If the Democratic Party bails out on something as fundamental as gender equality, then it's not a party I'm going to back.
If the Democratic Party continues pandering to people who would make women into breeder slaves of the state, then it's not a party I'm going to back.
I think all this carping on NARAL by so many here reveals to me that the Democratic Party is not a party that endorses the progressive values I hold dear.
You guys can all go on with your pissing matches, winning at any cost, selling out whatever you want. But don't be expecting me to be tagging along. You go to the dark side, you're dead to me. I don't need to be chasing around a kinder and gentler Sith Lord.

And don't be expecting silence from me. Or NARAL. Or other women and men who despair at the idea of making A Handmaid's Tale into a fucking political platform.
Frankly, all this "I'm pro-choice, but--" baloney smacks of the same shite we hear about race. "Some of my best friends are black." Uh huh.

This is not trivial. This is not marginal. This is at the very core of human rights.
It's not the government's business to decide.

You either believe that, or you don't. You either back up what you say with deeds, or you just more political baloney. "Hurting the party?" Let me tell you who's hurting the party: Every single person who suggests yet one more moral compromise all in the name of victory at any cost.


Stirring, no? Yet at the same time, most of the women’s groups that are so quick to decry the idea that state-licensed surgeons might be prohibited from performing certain operations are the same ones that issue press releases condemning the use of super-thin models in advertising. The liberal groups that believe in this absolute “right” to control their own bodies are horrified by the big, nasty pharmaceutical firms direct-marketing to consumers. They are aghast at the rolling back of labor protections, and so on and so forth.

The irony in most of this is that, in much of the country, the only reason access to abortions is restricted or in danger of being eliminated is exactly this sort of rhetoric and this sort of thinking. When you elevate something to being some sort of universal “right,” one that must be read into the constitution or protected for everyone, everywhere, then you simultaneously force a monolithic outcome. The very reason federalism was such a cherished ideal for the first century of this country’s existence is that people will disagree. If you allow them the freedom to decide, on a more local basis, what policies they will or will not follow (rather than having a single, centralized government make all decisions ever) then you get an out come that is significantly closer to optimal.

Moreover, while the author of the above quote may believe that ‘moral compromise in the name of victory at any cost’ is some abhorrent evil, I’m curious what exactly the goal is. Because it seems like politics is not the forum to stand up for absolute conviction if the consequence is going to be a reduction in the exercise of those convictions. Like: good job, you managed to create a party platform that will significantly reduce rights across the board. But at least you stood up for it. If Lincoln had run for the presidency on the same platform he had used for his (failed) Illinois senate bid, slavery might have lasted for another few decades. Would that have been a good move? Instead of being the one to free the slaves (at least until the Compromise of 1877), he would have been the one to talk a good game about freeing the slaves, but not accomplishing anything. If you never get into a position of influence, you never change anything – and it seems silly to argue that what people need to fight for is the moral high ground. A bunch of smug, self-satisfied party members are going to be cold comfort to the people who get screwed as a result.

In a two-party system, you have to look at the entire slate of issues, not just a couple. Republicans have used abortion and gay marriage to hamstring the Democratic party. But when it comes down to it, which is more important to more people: CAFTA or the forced social acknowledgement of a same-sex relationship? As wage-gaps increase and there is an increased level of poverty, our education system is pretty much going belly-up, and there are issues of global credibility and a more and more unstable world, the Democratic party is too busy punching itself in left-nut of abortion to do anything about them. In the time of Roosevelt, the Democrats were the party of the living wage (though it was not called that at the time) and of racial equality. Now they are the party of NARAL and GLAAD, and it’s deteriorating life for the people the Democratic party normally relies on as their base.

Sorry – but when it comes down to it, whether or not a girl who gets knocked up in Alabama can have her uterus vacuumed without driving up the coast to New York is just not that important to me, or, the last election would indicate, most of the damn country. So keep on truckin’ with those ‘abortion rights,’ because in the mean time, women are paid less than men, don’t get pregnancy leave, are crippled professionally by bad workplace laws regarding sexual harassment, are underrepresented in teaching positions in universities, and not for nothing, but are often screwed over by the common law on divorce. So media girl can say “A lot of people don't really get it that the dominionist right is on the verge of making women into 2nd class citizens at best, breeder slaves for the state in the main.” But guess what? They wouldn’t be able to do that if they were the ones sitting in the minority, playing defense and trying to keep another Ginsberg off the bench.

And speaking of the Supreme Court and John Roberts, NARAL wants him to be rejected for the court on the grounds that he happens to be ‘anti-choice.’ Listen: take him. He’s the most moderate justice you’re going to get. Can you honestly say that you’d prefer Alberto Gonzalez? Great, he’s pro-choice. Not great, he might vote to overturn the denial of habeas relief to Guantanamo Bay detainees. Can you honestly say that, rhetoric aside, the ability to petition for a redress of grievances and get out of a cage is a less important human rights issue than abortion? Because if you reject Roberts, the next guys in line aren’t going to be nearly as moderate. Once the Democrats expend their political capital beating this nominee, they won’t have much left when the actual battles come around.

cranked out at 7:07 AM | |

 
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