Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day Special

As I understand it, Mitch McConnell and his wrecking crew not only held up Obama's choice for Supreme Court, but did the same for hundreds of other vacancies in the judiciary, so that by the time their biddable bag of meat acquired the Presidency, he could pack the courts with young conservatives who might be expected to steer the country hard to the right for many decades.

Which is awesome if you happen to believe that abortion is the most important moral question we face. It's an answer to prayer. To the Republican majority and the billionaires who underwrite them it is less a matter of God's will than the culmination of a long-term strategy designed to gain and maintain power. It's one element in a campaign that also includes gerrymandering, voter suppression, union-busting, propaganda, and flat-out cheating.

There are a number of reasons I believe abortion should be legal, reasons having to do with coercion and control, and the mysteries of the soul, and the pragmatic consideration that more abortions can be prevented by access to free birth control than by criminalization, and a bias in favor of women's health and autonomy over fetal rights, but it's not something I intend to argue about with people who describe themselves as pro-life.

Suffice it to say fetal success is not at the top of my list of concerns. Not above civil rights for the born; not above the destruction of the particular climate that has sustained us and other life forms; not above the demonization and marginalization of entire groups of people, by race or faith or country of origin, which precedes and condones their elimination; not above the lust for war, which precisely tracks the lust for money. So much. So much I care about.

So many of us do. Enough to march. Lawsy, wasn't that a march! That sea of pink hats! There are more of us than there are of them. How did it all go so wrong?

Let's go back to the anti-abortion folks. Sure, they're just one element of a constituency that includes nervous gun owners and xenophobes and outright racists--there's some intersectionality involved here--but let's look just at them.

These people care. They really care. They care enough to vote, and they vote every chance they get. They put their people on the school board. They elect judges. They elect their city council. They scrutinize every ballot to reward the stance they favor. They're in a minority, but they win. Because they vote.

Is there anything we care enough about to do that? To vote?

Peace? Justice? Sustainable energy and economy? Shared prosperity? Do we care about extinction? The collapse of the oceans? Refugees? Poverty? Do black lives matter to us, at all? Do we assume our own version of righteousness should prevail on its merits, without us having to bother to vote for it?

How would this world be different if Al Gore had had enough extra votes that the Supreme Court would have been ashamed to hand the election to Dick Cheney? Would climate deniers have dominated the Cabinet? Would we still be mired in a fossil-fuel economy? Would we be at war in the Middle East? Did we really think Hillary and Donald were equally bad choices? Really? I guess so. Enough of us stayed home pouting. Waiting for that gorgeous candidate, so we could rest easy, put a LOVE sign on our lawn, and go back to our oblivious daily lives. We didn't care enough.

We care enough to march. We care enough to write checks and make calls. We can start caring enough to vote, every election, every chance we get. Or we can start knitting pink handbaskets.

39 comments:

  1. Let's vote them back to the stone age! I haven't missed an election in 45 years. It's my obligation as an American citizen.

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    1. I haven't either. While I'm on my soapbox, I think they should make our (Oregon's) vote-by-mail system nationwide. I always voted in the little elections but until I got a ballot in the mail, I wasn't really that schooled on the judges and more obscure ballot measures. Now I have weeks to study them. (Obviously I could have looked into it all before, but somehow it never happened.)

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    2. Our county, and several others in California, switched to vote-by-mail this season. (You could still go in and vote in person, but the mail-in ballot was out there early.) Our voting rate went up from about 42% to 54%, so it definitely helped.

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    3. Yay! Not the whole state, though?

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  2. Thanks, Murr, for (once again) saying it so well!

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  3. In Michigan I am expecting a huge Democrat turnout because recreational marijuana is on the ballot.

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    1. I am also from Michigan. Republican rule in this heavily gerrymandered state creates tragedy for the people of Flint while, at the same time, it sells millions of gallons of ground water to Nestle for $200/yr over the objections of the citizens and local government. We have lots of water but it’s best not to be thirsty.

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    2. Ha! Abortion brings out the conservatives and pot brings out the liberals! What else can we vote on?

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    3. Oh, and Linda, you are so right. And those people are sooooo evil.

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  4. I agree with you. More Americans, many more Americans need to care enough to get out there and VOTE! They may not be successful at first with all the gerry-mandering going on, but change begins with just that one extra vote each time. With hundreds of extra votes, change could happen faster.

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    1. Unfortunately we have a very large percentage of people who don't bother. Others don't vote out of a weird sense of personal affrontedness. They'll go to the polls as soon as the unicorn shows up to cart them there.

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  5. Voting is compulsory here (though my partner doesn't). And I am glad. It gives us a small chance of being heard. And occasionally listened to.

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    1. Maybe it should be compulsory here, too. I'm 83 & have NEVER missed an opportunity to vote!!

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    2. Once you reach voting age you are required to put yourself on the electoral register. Your name is checked off each time you vote. Non-voters are fined.

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    3. Dang! That should work. Doubt we could ever get that system off the ground here--we so love our "freedom."

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  6. I have always voted. It ran in my family. But of course you would vote in an election. I really didn't know that people didn't vote until a few years ago! Geesh... I just told them that they cannot complain if they didn't vote.

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    1. Well, shoot, everyone complains! Waaah!

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  7. We're an apathetic bunch in Canada and if we don't watch out, we're going to end up right where youse folks are . . . The conservative movement is swelling here, too.

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  8. Well said and so true.

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  9. I doubt there’s a neutral person left alive in America this 4th. And, between now and November, we’ve been promised non-stop fireworks. The biggest vote-suppression threat is the exhausted, beaten down, rope-a-doped, whiplashed traditional Democrat with the flat affect and the flaring pre-existing condition. Find you one of those, cheer them up, and drive them to the poles.

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    1. No, wait, they’ve already been driven to poles. Now they need to vote!

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  10. As a voting Democrat, it would be awfully nice if my party got organized enough to put up more intelligent young people and some sort of cohesive platform beyond reactionary anti-Trump rhetoric. I can foment and froth about the idiots in power; I need good solid representatives on the ballot.

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    1. I do think some of our stalwarts have aged out.

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  11. This deserves to be on the op-ed page of the NY Times, and plenty of other newspapers too.

    The success that "conservatives" have had in making abortion the central angst and driver of voter behavior is really a study in human control. The idea that otherwise sane people demand an end to contraception as well as an end to legal abortion is quit stunning. Available contraception is clearly THE path to reducing abortions.

    I've never understood how demanding that more unwanted children be born to unprepared and child-averse parents somehow benefits the Republican agenda. Because once these kids are born,the Republican agenda seeks to prevent them from an awful lot of stuff, health care, education, and so on, especially if they are brown or black kids.

    Anyway, I vote. In the recent primary in Maryland (which is heavily gerrymandered) I received a sample ballot in the mail, and I sat down and googled up all of the candidates, and I made my choices and I marked my sample ballot and I voted. And in my district, my candidate won his primary and will go up against an entrenched Republican congressman who supports Trump, opposes both abortion and Death with Dignity, voted to shut down the government, then blamed his vote on Democrats.

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    1. Go go go! The abortion issue benefits the Republican agenda because they adopted it in their platform and give lip service to it at every opportunity, and thus have roped in a reliable slice of the electorate so they can continue their policy of plunder. I will be damned if most of those Republicans personally care about the "unborn."

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    2. In my (red) state, pro-life is obviously a big thing. However, they seem to have no problem with the fact that a particular religious group can deny their children medical attention for treatable conditions. When these children (so far 185) die, the parents are not charged because of a "religious freedom" clause that most other states have excluded. To me, that's not pro-life. One need only to read The Handmaid's Tale (or watch the show) to see where the country is headed with regard to women and control over their bodies.

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    3. Whoa! We've prosecuted them folks, here.

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  12. None the marches and petitions matter a lick unless they translate into votes. And the GOP is making it harder and harder for anyone opposed to them to do just that.

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    1. It's astonishing to me that what they do is legal.

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  13. Well said. And spot on. I still have trouble understanding those who did not vote because they hated the Clintons. Hillary was not my first choice either. But on election day she was the ONLY choice. So I voted for her. I do hope the Democrats will quit fiddling around aimlessly and start taking action to win seats in the House and Senate.

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    1. The main problem I had with Hillary was that she had been vilified so thoroughly and for so many years that she was damaged goods. I do not believe she deserved much of that.

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