Sunday, November 4, 2012

Milksop's View of the Election

This is a comment made by "Milksop" to one of your recent posts. I thought it deserved a fuller airing. Milksop, if you object, let me know, and I'll take it down.


A woman came to my door today asking if I was registered to vote, and whether I was leaning toward Romney or Obama. I told her that I was voting for Gary Johnson, because I see no difference between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. She wondered why. I told her that in spite of promises to the contrary, President Obama did not close Guantanamo Bay Prison, engaged in legally questionable assassinations without offering any justification, prosecuted medical marijuana providers, subverted due process with Bradley Manning, instructed defense contractors not to give out legally required WARN notices due to sequestration, etc. I don't see any reason why Romney would do differently.

She replied that she agreed, but it was important to save the economy, and Romney would ruin it. I told her that I didn't want to legitimate the claim that the President is responsible for running the economy which both candidates make. I also told her that I didn't see any point to having a good economy if we lose all our civil rights.

She told me that as far as civil rights go, Romney would destroy them more by getting rid of contraception and abortion. I replied that with regard to contraception, I think there is a freedom of religion principle being violated. The abortion issue I struggled a bit more with.

Later, I read up on Roe vs. Wade on Wikipedia, because I was wondering how the Supreme Court justified the idea that the right to an abortion was a constitutional right. To my surprise I found that there seemed to be fairly widespread agreement among both conservatives and liberals that the constitutional justification for the ruling was basically nonexistant. Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg herself stated that the ruling essentially destroyed a fledging abortion liberalization movement that focused on legislative relief, and Benjamin Wittes remarked that the ruling "disenfranchised millions of conservatives on an issue about which they care deeply."

I thought this gave an excellent explanation for the political quandry we find ourselves in now. Conservatives feel like they haven't been able to have their say, so they're motivated to push for increasingly (and outrageously) extreme laws with respect to abortion. Like Justice Scalia said in another case, "[B]y foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish."

On the other side, it's understood that the ruling that protects abortion hangs by a thread, requiring constant desperate attempts to protect it by those who support it. In either case, both sides are focused obsessively on a single issue while the rest of the system falls to pieces. It's like fighting over the remote control while burglers are cleaning out the rest of your house of your possessions (G-d forbid).

I told the woman at my door, who flew out from California to try to raise support for Obama here, that if I woke up the day after Election Day and either Obama or Romney was president, I'd be depressed. I will continue to feel hopeless that the two sides of the culture wars can speak to each other respectfully and thoughtfully, getting a fair chance to explain our positions and be heard, instead of appealing to lightning rod issues to energize the base.

I should probably go prepare to drown myself in silly sitcoms on November 7th.

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