Sunday, September 14, 2008

On politics

Calliope has been encouraging us to talk about politics. I wouldn't normally say much on here because, well, this isn't a politics blog. But I think I will take her lead and run with it, because I think the time has come. 

First of all, the New York Times has been running some amazing opinion pieces lately. Check them out  here here here here here here and finally here. Yes, OK, you might have to register to read all of them, but it's free, and I promise they don't bombard you with email or anything. Otherwise, you should be able to read one or two (maybe even three) without registration. Anyhoo, thank you New York Times and others for questioning the McCain campaign.

So, on to what I think. When you look at the historical roots of the parties, and I'm going to turn to the Republican party in particular, it has many different and sensible ideas that definitely appeal. The desire for a small government, capitalist economic theories, the wish to mostly keep the government from interfering with business, the desire to balance the budget. All that is good and are policies that I mostly support. I could have been a Republican at one time. In fact, back in the dim and distant past, I voted for Margaret Thatcher in my very first election that I was eligible to vote in. I am all for fiscal conservatism. However, when I look at the current Republican party, I can't see any of that at all. Bush has run up a giant deficit based on his war spending. There is no fiscally conservative thinking going on at all, as far as I can see, as all his policies seem to be about cutting taxes while at the same time paying out billions and billions of dollars to the military. And McCain seems to want to do exactly the same. I'm sorry, George and John, but the war has to be paid for somehow, and cutting taxes while increasing spending and not worrying about where the money is coming from is just plain wrong. It is setting us up for economic disaster if nobody gets it under control soon.

However, what is much more worrying to me is the way that the Republican party has morphed into a two-issue party (well, maybe a three-issue party - what is it, guns, gays and abortion?). First is abortion and moral values. Since when is it conservative to look into my private life and try to prevent me from having an abortion? It's not. It's intervention by government into my life, which the original conservatives were against. In any case, a ban on abortion will not prevent abortions from happening. We know this is true because they used to happen all the time before they were legalized. And what happened? Women died. Women died going to backstreet abortionists. Isn't the life of a productive member of society more important than any hypothetical need to save the innocent? Nobody wants abortion to happen, ever. But they do. To me, it seems that we need to make contraception readily available to anyone who wants it. We should not be advocating abstinence-only eduction - sure, abstinence should be a part of sex education, but if we want to prevent abortions, we would do much better making sure unwanted pregnancies don't happen in the first place. Including easy access to the "morning after" pill by the way - if there's one thing that repeated IVFs has taught me, it's that while an embryo may be technically alive right after fertilization, if it doesn't implant, it ain't going nowhere. Let's put aside our concerns about "life beginning at conception" and say that if we really want to reduce the rate of abortions, let's let women easily take a pill once they've had unprotected sex or a condom accident or whatever - knowing that, yes, a percentage of viable embryros will be prevented from implanting but also knowing that that is better than an abortion at 8 weeks or whatever. However, even then, accidents happen - no contraceptive method is 100% reliable. I would rather keep women alive than prevent safe, legal access to abortions. You don't know what it's like to be in that situation until it happens, but we should all have the right to choose, in my view. But, why oh why, has this become a defining issue for the Republican party? It should have nothing to do with a conservative ideology. It's the influence of the evangelical Christians, and sorry, but I thought we were supposed to have a separation of church and state. I'm sure those same people would hate ME to impose my moral/religious values on them - I'd have you all giving up eating meat, for a start and taking on a more Buddhist respect for life. Why should they get to impose their moral/religious values on me? And don't even get me started on capital punishment. So many of these "pro-life" people are pro the death penalty and pro hunting. Why? I have no earthly idea. Until you can show me that 100% of the people on death row are unequivocally guilty AND that the death penalty is a real deterrent, I don't think that we should have it. And in any case, aren't we supposed to be judged at the pearly gates? What gives us the right to enforce the ultimate punishment of taking someone's life away? Personally, I think if you are pro-life, you should be pro-life in all of it's forms, including animals and yes, criminals. 

Moving on to moral values. This is another hot button issue for me. Since when is it moral to deny two loving people the right to marry one another? I find it more moral to want to help the poor by providing a social safety net like unemployment payments, free access to healthcare for those who can't otherwise afford it, a basic retirement pension, and free education. Since when are those not moral values? Why has the term "moral values" been co-opted to mean hatred? And besides, none of us know - TRULY know - what God's plan is for the world. I believe that God (universe, whatever) had a hand in making every single one of us. If God made people gay, then he/she/it must have a good reason for it.

The environment is another huge issue for me. We are at a tipping point in society, I think. We can invent our way out of trouble, find better renewable energy sources and stop polluting the fuck out of the planet, or we can cling to the old ways and just try to drill more. And have you even seen the charts showing how much extra oil we'll get by drilling more? It's a marginal difference, at best. I really think that we are going to be facing serious issues with global warming, sea level rises, limited access to clean water, food shortages, etc. These are fundamental issues affecting the safety and security of our country and they MUST be addressed. We have reached crisis point and while initially McCain was paying lip service to environmental considerations, those seem to have gone completely out of the window lately.

And foreign policy? Since when has the school bully done well in the popularity stakes? We are essentially the school bully of the world, and nothing Palin or McCain is saying is easing my mind about whether they are going to try more diplomacy than Bush did. I find it a much more worrying time for national security than in the past - if most other countries in the world hate us, it seems to me that our national security is under much more threat than if we were thoughtful, considerate neighbors who were setting a good example in the diplomatic world. Being cowboys or moose-hunters does us no good at all.

I could go on, but this post is long enough already. The McCain campaign is spreading lies about the Obama campaign, and getting away with it.  They should be called to task. Oh, and since when does being supposedly ethical make you a maverick or a reformer? Aren't they effectively saying that the rest of their party are all unethical sleazebags?  Frankly, the only one that can bring change and reform is Obama, and this country needs him. Needs. We HAVE to vote him in, people. I truly believe that the safety and security of the country, and perhaps even the world, depend on voting in Obama. I dread to think what wars could be fought over access to the last remaining oil and food supplies if we haven't managed to change by then.

I truly hope that America does not fall for the McCain bullshit, simply because they agree that abortion should not be happening. Something as important as electing the president of the United States should not come down solely to reproductive issues.


Sarah P. said...

That was an excellent post. Thank you.

Tricia said...

Wow. Can I just say from an outsider's view, that's the kind of logical argument missing from the entire republican campaign.

But sadly, logic doesn't win elections. Why else would George W. have been re-elected? I can tell you most of us here are really praying McCain doesn't get in.

Apologies to any republicans out there, I respect your right to your political leanings, but I'd love to see a government elected on hope, not fear-based grandstanding or selective, populist, moral ideology.

orodemniades said...

I think many people who are against abortion believe that women who have sex out of wedlock need to be punished, and having that baby is a 'good' punishment. Lying in the beds they made, natch.

Of course, this ignores those people who live in the reality-based world, who understand that honestly, nobody wants to have an abortion, but frequently circumstances allow no other choice. And, ultimately, it's all about choice.

Sara Palin scares me.

calliope said...

excellent post. You really nailed the crumbling of a party. I think so much of the republican morph comes from the mega churches...ugh

Care said...

I'm with you 100%. The three G's are why this state I live in is so very very red. And it's also why, not matter how hard I try, I will never truly fit in here.

Sam said...

And HOW!

Stupid Republicans.

T said...

Oh Good God yes. I keep getting emails that say Obama is the anti-christ, when I really think it's Sarah Palin!

Frankly - I don't think they would overturn r v. w., but Palin thinks that women who are raped and victims of incest should not have access to abortions. What kind of a human being would make a girl or woman relive her rape every day of her pregnancy? She makes me sick. I really hope that American smartens up.

You were in Boston? Next time gimme a ring.