Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Platform in Knots

I can't be the only one who gets dizzy trying to follow some of the twisted and contradictory Republican policy positions. I've always noted a few that didn't make sense, but it seems to be getting worse. I'm not sure if it's because they are trying to appeal to too many different groups within the party or not, but it sure is confusing.

The backbone of conservative thinking is 'small government'. The idea that the federal government only does the minimum needed. It's generally talked about as keeping the government out of your life. And yet, there appear to be a number of caveats to this idea. They are famously on record for wanting to remove regulations on financial institutions, roll back environmental protections and any number of other corporate related areas. Yet, oddly, the small government zeal ends rather abruptly at the edge of your personal life. And it is odd, since I would think that keeping government out of your personal business would be more important than keeping it out of corporate business.

And yet there are GOP led initiatives to deny, by law, the right of two people who love each other from getting married simply because they are the same sex. The reason for this seems to always boil down to either theological interpretations or just the fact that it makes some people uncomfortable. Neither is a good reason to deny citizens the same rights as their fellow Americans. There are a lot of things in this world that make me uncomfortable, but you don't see me trying to make them all illegal. I've always loosely interpreted the idea of 'liberty' as the right to live your life as you want, as long as it doesn't violate someone else's rights. Two men or two women getting married has no impact on the rights of Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee or any other conservative, as far as I can tell. So, to my mind, it's not any of their business. I'm sorry, but being creeped out by homosexuality doesn't give you the right to make gay Americans second class citizens.

Then we have the fringes of the anti-abortion debate. Since the conservatives haven't been able to overturn Roe v. Wade after 40 years, they decided to make the process as psychologically and physically stressful as possible for any woman attempting to exercise their Constitutional rights. So we end up with bills like the one Virginia proposed recently. It would have had the VA state government dictate medically unnecessary procedures, even against medical advice or the objections of the patient, to include an INTERNAL, vaginal ultrasound. In other words, a state government wanted to force a woman to undergo a procedure whereby she is penetrated against her will. That's what you call a government that's not just small enough to drown in a tub, but actually small enough to fit inside a vagina! The bill was only scuttled, after passing all the way to the Governor's desk, due to a sudden deluge of national attention and outrage. Similar bills, without the penetration component, have already passed in a number of other states. These exist for only one purpose, to coerce and psychologically abuse a woman when she is at her most vulnerable. Sounds exactly like small government to me!

This election cycle we've seen yet another example of twisted policy, this time about birth control of all things. Yes, we are suddenly debating the availability of birth control in the year 2012. When did this become controversial, outside of Vatican City? Condoms have been in use since perhaps as far back as the 15th century, in some form or another, and female contraception has a history that stretches to ancient Egypt. This isn't a 'Liberal' agenda item, it's established and accepted history. One thing it isn't though is the business of any government or faith to dictate! I'm unable to grasp how a party that claims to value individual liberty can turn around and begin making noises about the legality of birth control. But the discussion gets really psychedelic when people like Rick Santorum starts babbling about the availability of birth control being related to increases in abortion rates. Huh?! I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that contraception, by its very design and definition, prevents fertilization of an egg and thus any resulting fetus. If you're against abortion, than you damn well should be Pro-Contraception!! Just trying to parse the conservative logic on this is enough to induce a migraine.

On yet another front is the constant push to wedge theology into government and use that to dictate a specific moral view for the entire country. Santorum, and he's hardly alone in this mindset, recently declared that, "We have Judeo-Christian values that are based on biblical truth. ... And those truths don't change just because people's attitudes may change". First off, who's this 'we' of which you speak? Not sure if he realizes this or not, but America's citizens represent just about every theological point on the compass. In other words, 'we' aren't all 'Judeo-Christian,' shocking as that may be to hear. Secondly, I'm sorry, I was under the impression that the Constitution was based on the laws of man, not a completely unsupported theological text filled with barbaric customs that include stoning, fratricide and slavery, among many others. Shall we bring those back too? After all, they are also "biblical truth," are they not? Oh, I forgot! You get to pick and choose what parts to live by, don't you? Look, if you are for small government, you can't then be for dictating theology as policy or as the basis for national law. Faith is a personal choice and that's where it should begin and end.

It's this sort of contradictory thinking that drives me nuts, short drive that it is. I don't expect absolute consistency, but this is just a spaghetti bowl of random ideas. Maybe it stems from trying to house both ultra-conservative evangelicals under the same roof as secular moderates. But whatever the reason, it's insane. To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite movies, you keep using that phrase, 'small government.' "I don't think it means what you think it means."

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