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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Some (Long) Thoughts on Religion, Progressive Politics, and Not Fighting Another Civil War

First things first: damn. When I saw how the Senate was going last night, my longing for a Kerry presidency redoubled, if only so that there could be some sort of balance, some sort of give-and-take in government for the next two and probably four (or more) years. It didn’t happen. I’m grumpy about it, to say the least. The great egalitarian accomplishments of the last fifty years--Social Security, Medicare, public education as we knew it--are all on the chopping block. And there’s no one new at the wheel to guide us toward a broader, less tunnel-visioned foreign policy. We’re in bad shape, no doubt about it.

More challenging things second: everyone is talking about the exit polls which demonstrate that, frankly, Iraq didn’t matter all that much to a great many voters, and neither did the economy. What mattered most for most voters was "moral values"–namely, the struggle over same-sex marriage, abortion, and all the rest. This has led the blogosphere today to talk about religion, particularly the sort of religious values and language that could play well in the red states (particularly the American South), and why the Democratic party has a distinct lack of such, and whether that can or should be rectified, or, conversely, ought to be celebrated as a badge of angry, disdainful pride. The idea of finding a good Southern Democrat, and getting them to talk about the interests and "work ethic" of America's (often rural, often socially conservative and religious) lower-middle and working classes, is central to the imaginations of many (John Edwards's boosters not the least), and I'm hardly immune to it. Hey, all things considered, I wanted Gephardt. But it is the latter, deeper possibility--that there is now an insurmountable divide between the religious, working-class, tradition-bound residents of provincial America, and the progressive political agenda as manifest in the Democratic party--or at least the reflections I'm seeing on just such a possibility, which most interest me.

(Note: in a sense, what follows is a composite of all those posts on populism, class and culture which I promised, and now that the election is over probably won't ever write, at least not as I originally conceived them. So there's a certain amount of murky reaching and recycling in what follows. You've been warned.)

A friend of mine e-mailed me this morning, with the simple message: "the Civil War begins today." His language is on point, but I’m not sure we can leap to thinking about a renewed struggle with the Confederacy quite yet. Let’s instead think about the culture wars in a more general way. Timothy Burke has long been writing about this conflict more thoughtfully and better than anyone I know. A few months ago, he laid out his fears that there was a core group of voters in America, the Bush voters, who genuinely embrace the president's numerous flaws because they see him as their greatest vehicle towards remaking America in their image. Timothy pleaded with them to recognize that Bush’s economic and social agenda wasn’t just unpopular with a great many American voters (49% of them, as it now seems fair to say), but is actually crushing to the possibility of maintaining (through government neutrality and a relatively small amount of wealth-sharing) a diversity of spaces and consequently a certain amount of civic peace. In essence, he argued, to choose Bush is to "choose tyranny"–not because he himself is necessarily a tyrant, but that to so ruthlessly impose an agenda upon a divided nation is by definition tyrannical. Now, with the popular election of Bush by exactly the narrow majority he feared, Timothy calls down condemnation upon the Bush voters, upon "their president" (not his) for his and his followers' refusal to accept life in a "shared social reality."

This isn’t strictly about a bunch of radicals from Texas and Oklahoma imposing an oppressive Christian theocracy on the U.S., though a fair amount of that kind of fear is tied up in Burke’s argument. More broadly however, he's framing the culture war as a contest between traditionalists and moderns, the latter being those that delight in, or at least tolerate, the spaces and nooks and crannies and surprises of the liberal order, with all its material innovation, irreverence and creative destruction, and the former being those who want gemeinschaft, who dislike the new, the cranks who hate "the cities and the educated and the culture-makers and the secularists." Of course, this sort of class-sensitive analysis, one which places religious conservatives like Pat Robertson and economic communitarians like Ralph Nader on the same side, doesn’t hold any water when it comes to talking about yesterday’s specific electoral results (Bush clearly doesn’t have an anti-capitalist bone in his body). But the point is nonetheless a good one: the residents of Heartlandia, as Timothy put it in a later post, want a world with more authority, more discipline, more unity, more specificity--a "city on a hill," if you will--whereas those in Bicoastia hold to the essentially libertarian ethos of "don’t tread on me."

(One could, perhaps, try to connect this to a theory of economic relations, wherein the greater market freedom seemingly endorsed by Bush and Co. is translated in their minds into an opportunity for greater individual responsibility, possession, and mastery. In other words, more stability and control over the "social power that reserved particular cultural forms as the source of social distinction or hierarchy." If the government doesn't take my money, then I have that much more power create--through gated communities, private schools, etc.--my own safe and enduring environment! But this gives them way too much credit; I think it makes more sense just to assume that such conservative social and economic thinking is simply incoherent. What conservatives at one time did recognize was the same thing which socialists of all stripes, including Marx, have always recognized: that allowing economic empowerment to follow only the rules of the marketplace, accruing to the hard-working but also and more importantly to the lucky, the privileged, the well-born, well-connected and, most especially, the self-interested, spells doom for any kind of civic morality and, hence, any truly shared collective goods. Timothy has mentioned that he doesn't really consider himself a "leftist" any more; his focus, in the end, is simply on who has which goods and whether they have what they have a right to, rather than on who gains and who loses from the production of such goods in the first place. That is, he's consistently liberal; he doesn't agree that there are forms of power that melt away when ways of life are changed, so long as the people are free and able to pursue their preferred individual changes. One of the reasons I believe, as I'll get to later, that progressive politics can find a home in a restrained religious world is because I think the argument for social justice, properly understood, really is closer, or at least as close, to the conservative one than the liberal one. I'm by no means an orthodox Marxist, but I still hold out for a social democracy can bring together both religious conservatism and egalitarian concern. But I'm digressing from the practical egalitarianism Timothy and I both share.)

If I may elaborate on Timothy’s superb reading of recent events, Bush is Heartlandia’s strong leader, their resolute authority, their guide through difficult times, and they’ve clung to him and celebrated him despite all the evidence and details which undermine almost every one of his accomplishments, as well as so much that was once central to America’s role in the world. He is their moral voice, and that’s enough. Kerry’s efforts to speak of faith and morality and the necessary limits of hard choices, however heartfelt they were, remained essentially "bicoastal"--when he addressed a woman who asked about abortion during the debate in St. Louis, Kerry responded with as much fervor as he could muster, "I respect your views." But what kind of authority, what kind of order, can be contained in an open-ended morality which says, in the end, "there’s your morality, and then there is those people’s over there"? There’s no particularity, no resoluteness, no definitiveness there. Only a patronization, as Harry notes, of the poor provincial who doesn't see how much wider and diverse the real world really is.

To return to the main point: for Timothy, Bush’s victory means that those who oppose him and his brand of culture-war governing have no other option but to search "for the Fort Sumter of our times and our souls, for the path to the figurative dissolution of our contaminated Union." He is far from the only blogger speaking in apocalyptic terms. Yet I can’t quite tell how hopeless he really is; he doesn’t truly think a division in our society between Heartlandia and Bicoastia is conceivable (any more than Matt Yglesias thinks a federation between the blue states and Canada, and its separation from "Jesusland," is possible), because 1) there is too much interplay between our ways of life anyway, and 2) because there is and must be a "bottom floor of basic rights" that he cannot cede to the desire to create a definite cultural particularity, a guarded Christian enclave protected from the blue staters and their devious ways. In making this argument, Timothy echoes one of his greatest posts, a meditation upon intervention, on the invasion of the particular by the universal--both its necessity and its tragedy--which has been greatly helpful to my own thinking over the past year or so. I do not know if he intends his invocation of our need to continue together and thus "intervene" as necessary, but also of the way secular liberalism might have been better off if it hadn’t "pushed too hard...towards a transformative project," to contribute to an argument for "some new alliance, with a new mix of issues and convictions" that could carry progressive causes forward. Perhaps not. But I for one don’t mind having the contradictions of modernity placed front and center, because I at least do think there's another form of progressive politics possible, one that can challenge, as the old liberal coalitions no longer can, the current Republican dominance of the Heartlandia core. The problem is that it requires an ethos which many liberals hoped to have ejected from the modern egalitarian American state when they--the universal choosers, the liberal liberators--rejected the restrictive, populist particularisms of the South (and the Midwest, and most of the West too): moral authority. Or, in other words, a genuine respect for, and a willingness to employ, a judgmental religious voice.

(Which, of course, is interventionary too, only interventionary in a different way. Practically speaking, that difference is small, which is why all crusaders, whether liberal or conservative, religious or secular, need to hold their principles to the test of prudence and the present day, something which Bush’s actions in Iraq, I realized too late, did not do. But on a theoretical plane, how important is that rather small difference? Not at all, if you doubt that there is any order beyond the one we will into existence. For Timothy, every extremist is just as modern as every other one: anti-moderns have a universalizing agenda the same as liberals do. But should you take seriously the idea that we dwell in an order not of our own making--that is, if you allow that ontology can have something to do with politics, can limit it and oblige it--then perhaps religious interventions can, perhaps, take on a somewhat different hue, though they remain every bit as potentially abusive as ever.)

Descending from philosophy to politics: what would this embrace of judgment entail exactly, and is it remotely possible? Ought the Democratic party try to compete with the Republicans in being a "moral voice"? For many, to invite any sort of immersion in the ethics and habits of the red states is to poison the progressive cause entirely; it is to shake hands with the Ku Klux Klan, apologize to the Confederacy, wink at anti-gay bigotry, hand power over the inbreeds from Deliverance, and generally ruin everything civilization stands for. It is demographic talk like this that leads so many secular progressives to find great comfort in Ruy Teixeira's thesis (which I've never liked, and which doesn't seem to be panning out, so far anyway) that, eventually, all those blue-collar, rural (racist, moronic) Jesus freaks will die out, leaving the future to the secular, urban, multicultural, self-employed, high-tech (enlightened) creative class. (Either that, or it leads them to engage in fantasies about how much nicer America would be if only General Sherman had been more thorough in his march through the South.)

I couldn’t disagree more, though I recognize that the odds of such disagreement being heard when we have only two major parties to choose from, with no Christian socialist or culturally conservative social democrat option in sight, will be a long and difficult haul. And admittedly, the burden is primarily upon religious progressives like myself; one cannot reasonably expect secular liberals and desperate Democrats to take seriously as a ground for argument and actions the particularist beliefs and perspectives of a region of the country, and a class of the population, which has just thoroughly rejected them. Still, short of waiting for the apocalypse, I see two tasks before us, one long-term, the other short. I have no idea which is more likely to come about than the other. (Both are, it goes without saying, unlikely in general.)

First: there are, there have always been, there will always be, Christians whose beliefs lead them to be social conservatives and economic progressives. (For evidence, look here and here.) We exist, and we have no party to represent us. (The Democratic party once did, back in its working-class heyday, but respect for that kind of traditional authority has been declining ever since the 1970s.) What we need to do is work for the transformation of America’s political and party system, so that more venues can open up, and the death-grip which a warped, half-statist, half-libertarian, decidedly non-communitarian "conservatism" holds over "moral values" in America can finally be loosened. It may not happen in my lifetime, but it's something worth working for, and praying for. Second, and of greater relevance to this discussion: in the meantime, we need to continue to work towards making the Democratic party remember the lesson of Carter and Clinton, the lessons of respect.

After the way Kerry flogged his "faith" to no end on the campaign trail, it might be easy to dismiss this as a lost cause: the Republicans have grabbed religion, so let them have it. (After all, all that fire-and brimstone crap is just for the weak and superstitious, right?) One can point to the example of Amy Sullivan as evidence that there’s nothing new to be said here. I admire the hell out of Amy’s work, and have nothing but praise for it...but, if one honestly wishes to ask what sort of thinking could lead the Democratic party to start putting forward an agenda that shows some respect for the unavoidable fact that they live in a socially and culturally conservative country, then I think it may be worth noting that her primary campaign--to open up religious voters to progressive causes by helping progressives learn to make their case in religious language--may be backwards. What if what is necessary is not translating liberal political imperatives into an evangelical or culturally conservative idiom, but rather taking such faith seriously as a legitimate basis for thinking about politics, and drawing progressive concerns from it? It won’t be a liberalism which gives you abortion rights–but maybe it’ll give you health care. Isn’t that worth something?

Think about Bill Clinton; think about the ease with which he sat down with black preachers and white pentecostals. (That is, when he was governor; his time in Washington poisoned him and those around him, made him a polarizing figure that drove an even a deeper wedge between the Democrats and white rural believers, a tragedy that I hope a just God will punish both Clinton himself and Kenneth Starr for.) Was it all a "spiel" to him, a language he adopted to get elected? Hardly, yet everyone knew he wasn’t at all pious. He was forgiven that—by enough evangelicals to win various Southern states, at least—because it was manifest that he didn’t think religion was something he needed to condescend to. He shared that context. The lack of follow-through in legislative content can be forgiven if it at least begins with recognition and respect. Clinton certainly didn't outlaw abortion, and the dedicated anti-abortion professionals in America today certainly never gave him an inch of credit. But consider what happened at the margins, in the provinces, when Clinton declared when he accepted the Democratic nomination that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." Rare. Meaning: it's a bad thing, aborting an unborn child; we ought to do less of it. The people who have or make it seem easy to have abortions when there's no call for abortion are in the wrong. That's called moral judgment, using the power of the office to define and order what American life ought and ought not be about. That swayed people--a few of them, anyway, enough to unite with the (not incidentally often socially conservative) African-American population of the South and thereby pick off a few states--because it showed some respect for how they had constrained and disciplined and thus made difficult their own lives, and thus allowed them to hear what this liberal politician had to say about taxes and medical care, because they knew it was out from someone who was willing to put themselves where they lived.

All I’m saying is this: is it not possible that the measure of moral authenticity to the average believer is not the content of one’s profession or performance of belief, but there context, the seriousness with which such belief is treated? It comes down to ontology again. All politics, all modernity, is interventionary; it’s unavoidable, unless you genuinely desire the life of the Amish. But is liberalism alone, the secular historical accomplishment of such, the only way to generate the arguments for the sort of interventions necessary to make the modern order egalitarian, to make it decent? If you think so, then you must believe that Bush and everyone who voted for him is nothing more than an incipient fascist, a greedy and hateful and bitter rube from Texas (or Bavaria) intent on plunder and murder and putting their boot in the ass of anyone, Iraqi or American, who gets in their way. Because, after all, their Heartland talk, however sincere and serious and definitive and clear, must by definition just be bullshit: a spiel, nothing more. That probably describes Tom Delay, and more than a few others. But in general, I don’t think that's correct. I think the Bush-voters are wrong: wrong about the untrammeled market, wrong about the "ownership society," wrong that the environment can take care of itself, wrong about the role of the state, wrong about what is needed to make America responsible and admired in a world in need of our wealth and example. Moreover, I think they are deluding themselves if they don’t recognize that the man they elected, despite the few good things he’ll do, is very bad at carrying out even some of his best plans. But I don’t think Heartlandia is poisoned, and I don’t think the religion and way of life we embrace out here (metaphorically speaking, of course; we live in cities too) is so undeserving of respect and so incapable of grounding a government that could conduct the sort of careful, egalitarian interventions we ought to support. Of course there are theocrats around; some Southerners may not stop until Nathan Bedford Forrest occupies the White House. But some others--enough, again, to win a few states at least--just like knowing that the President of the United States won’t stop them from praying at high school football games. If the person who makes that promise speaks their language, knows where they’re coming from, and makes that knowledge part of their platform, then who knows what may open up. Probably not my longed-for Christian communitarian polity, that's for sure, but maybe a way to get enough of religious America on board a simple liberal egalitarian agenda so as to save what little social justice remains in our country. It might even avoid another Civil War. It’s worth thinking about, anyway.


Anonymous said...

Russell, that other greedy and hateful and bitter rube was from Austria, not Bavaria. He only adopted Bavaria, and then the Bavarians adopted him.

I'm still pessimistic that anything can change. Today we know that relentlessly negative and dishonest wedge-issue campaigning works. We now know that the key is to own the "values" issues that have absolutely no bearing on presidential politics. You don't have to actually accomplish anything on any of these issues--in fact, the only way to win is by not accomplishing anything, so that you can keep the issue alive as a reliable button to press, an ever-present chain to yank.

In practical terms, the Democrats are always going to be identifiable with gun control and the right to sexual and reproductive privacy, regardless of their actual platform. In the last campaign, Kerry's positions on "values" issues were almost identical to Bush's, but his actual position didn't matter. If they tell people that Democrats support gay marriage, millions of people will turn out to vote them out of office. You can't defuse all these issues by conceding them. Even if you could, there would always be another issue at hand: school prayer, "under God," whatever. Totally irrelevant and totally effective. Now we know: culture war works.

The depressing thing for me about this election wasn't just losing--I've always voted for the loser in presidential elections, beginning in 1992--but the new understanding I have of my country. We've had four years to observe what I believe is the worst performance of a chief executive in the 20th century, but the majority of my fellow citizens--to say nothing of the vast majority of my co-religionists--decided that they liked what they had seen so far, and wanted more, and more of it in our government (to judge by the Senate results). Supposedly, they did so based on values. I voted my values too, including moral values, but apparently I don't share my values with as many people as I thought I did as recently as Monday.

Please, keep trying to convince me that this isn't really "the boot in the face forever." But all I can come up with realistically is, "well, the boot really isn't all that bad," because I'm having trouble trying to diminish the "forever" part in any meaningful way. 

Posted by Jonathan Green

Anonymous said...

No, I don't "believe that Bush and everyone who voted for him is nothing more than an incipient fascist, a greedy and hateful and bitter rube from Texas (or Bavaria) intent on plunder and murder and putting their boot in the ass of anyone, Iraqi or American, who gets in their way." A few, yes. But a lot, no.

My mother-in-law voted Bush. She's a born-again ex-drunk with nothing much in the way of an education, living off social security and her husband's VA benefits. Bush is screwing her, and she voted for him anyway. Why? Moral issues. Moral issues, and Bush's ability to sell himself as the man who raised himself from the bottle to the White House with God's help (and his father's money.)

Dumb is dumb. Religious people aren't particularly dumb. I know full well that very religious people - including evangelicals - are quite capable of making rational, sensible political decisions. But voting for Bush when you're on Social Security is just dumb, and no amount of religion makes dumb smart.

Authentic moral beliefs that are stupid don't get less stupid when they are authentic. I don't care if those beliefs are dearly held, either the beliefs need to be weakened in the believer, or the believer needs to be marginalised. I won't let other people's grotesquely damaging beliefs slide simply because they are sincerely held. It's not just that their beliefs are wrong, it is that their wrong beliefs both hold sway and are too important to let slide.

I don't care if religious private schools get some token state funds. I don't think the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance are important enough to waste political capital on. I do care when discriminatory laws are passed on the backs of pastors. I do care when women are locked out of reproductive choice by a narrow-minded religous belief with only the most tenuous Biblical basis.

If I actually believed, I might point out that Jesus gave a crap about the poor. I might remind them of Proverbs 28:27 and Matthew 25:35-45 the next time they talk about cutting public social services. I might suggest that Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin ought to remember that no one is free of sin, and reread John 8:7. I might suggest they read Galatians 2:11-21 ask themselves on exactly what basis they can justify a legalistic Christianity fulled with explicit Verboten that they think they have the right to pass into law. They might consider a glance at Romans 14 before pronouncing on Biblically marginal issues like abortion. They might ask themselves if their desire to ban gay marriage in the laws of the state will prove a stumbling block for their brethren of weaker faith. But I don't believe, so I don't.

I don't fear a new civil war in America. I don't think the good guys have it in them, and won't unless things get so bad they are actually able to mobilise the poor. I don't see that happening under any conditions short of public starvation. I do fear that the other side might declare war on the liberals, the educated and the moderate. A few of them are already bombing abortion clinics. It could be colleges and libraries soon enough. It's too easy to for both sides to turn into exactly what the other thinks they are. My wife swears she is never going back to America, and web searches for immigration to Canada and Europe have started rising. I fear an American Khmer Rouge.

Alright, I'm frustrated. You should see the posting I wrote for AFOE and didn't put up.

It doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to marginalise Christian belief. As little documentary support as you will find among actual liberal politicians for anti-religious sentiment, among too many of the trend-setters on the intellectual left religous belief is held in an unmerited contempt. It doesn't matter that on the right it is respected only as a political tool - like in the the works of Leo Stauss or Allan Bloom - and not very widely sincerely held.

But in the end, either a more open minded Christianity has to take root in America, or the political Christianity we have has to be marginalised, or the kinds of people most frustrated by the outcome of this election will have to find a new country.

Posted by Scott Martens

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how exactly fundamentalists are feeling "condescended" to or "ignored" by the Democratic Party. Has it not occurred to them that maybe there is a sizable chunk of folks -- devout, atheist, agnostic -- that simply feels that politics is the arena in which we discuss national policies and direction, and *church* is where like-minded congregants can discuss their faith and their own particular place in Creation?

"Values" talk is really just sets of code words employed to send signals to the hated Other. Maybe it's an excuse to push homosexuals around, or to interfere with women's rights, or whatever. But this constant persecution complex -- I just don't buy it. Not one of these fundamentalists would ever consider voting for an admitted atheist, or even an agnostic. Even somebody who simply says, "You know, faith and spiritual beliefs are and should be a very private and personal matter", would not get a single solitary fundamentalist vote. Why? Because they sincerely believe that their belief system automatically makes them more moral than the atheist/agnostic (or, perhaps more accurately, the atheist/agnostic's lack of belief makes them *less* moral by definition). So who's condescending to whom?
The Democrats' real problem is that they hoped they could just get away with leaving people to have their faith, and just not bring it up, except, once again, where it's expected. In a rational society that was serious about just leaving people the hell alone to live their lives and mind their own business, that would be enough. We could talk about *policies*, about foreign misadventurism, about drowning in debt, about families losing their homes to impossibly high hospital bills, about the ever-growing divide between the have-nots and the have-mores, about lies, and secrecy, and corruption, and accountability.
But no. Apparently all those real-life issues are second to making every political candidate genuflect, and bow and scrape to code phrases like "under God" and "civil unions" and the "sanctity of marriage". When the protectors of marriage get as serious about saving it from the likes of Britney Spears or Larry King, as they are about Rosie O'Donnell, I'll take them seriously.
So far I have heard no specific, concrete example of what the devout expect from Democrats. What, *specifically*, should John Kerry have done to cater to this mentality? He made sure he was seen going to church plenty of times. He talked sincerely and concisely about his faith. This was a *political* campaign. That should have been enough.
This nation has gone over the edge. I never thought I'd see this sort of national psychosis, where the people who dictate the national discourse never stop whinging about how damned neglected their Special And Perfect Belief System is, so they go out and vote for the guy that's picking their pocket, just so they can say they stuck it to Al Franken.

Posted by Dan Green

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments:

First, Scott, being anti- abortion isn't "a narrow-minded religious belief with only the most tenuous Biblical basis." It's part and parcel of the Catholic Faith: "The Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. The holy one born of her was called the Son of God." [paraphrase, Luke 1:35]. The Incarnation occurred at the moment of conception. Christ became man in his mother's womb. Following this logic the Fathers of the Church, and every major Christian thinker up until the last century has held abortion to be a grave moral evil.

One doesn't need to be religious to be morally opposed to it either: If one just asks when human life or personhood begins, and comes to the conclusion that it has to begin at least around the time the baby is viable, then all this hard core pro-choice insistence on late term and partial birth abortion suddenly seems pretty evil.

Oh, and calling the likes of S. Augustine and the current pope narrow minded is simply daft.

Second, many of us are serious about saving marriage from the likes "of Britney Spears or Larry King" or more to the point, Larry Flynt and the pornocracy. The push for "homosexual marriage" is just one of the most egregious assaults on the institution, not the most serious. No fault divorce and trivialized sexuality are the problem. The human body and human relationships need to be re- sacralized.

Third, it’s arrogant and condescending to tell me that my faith – my essential beliefs- shouldn’t influence my political choices. Like your secularism and agnosticism don’t influence yours? I have to put up with being offended and alienated all the time by boneheads like you. It’s called living in a democracy. It’s amusing to see the consternation and bone headed bigotry that a little religion can elicit in some people.

Lastly, I consider myself to be a liberal in the tradition of Al Smith, Bob Casey and Hilaire Belloc. I am anti- libertarian to the core, and no fan of untrammeled capitalism. George Bush is not my man. It's just a damn shame that the Democratic Party abandoned me about the time I was born, because now I'm politically homeless.

Posted by charlie

Anonymous said...

"If one just asks when human life or personhood begins, and comes to the conclusion that it has to begin at least around the time the baby is viable, then all this hard core pro-choice insistence on late term and partial birth abortion suddenly seems pretty evil."Speaking as an atheist, and a moderate pro-lifer, that's exactly where I'm coming from. I'm not one of those loons who thinks a fertilized egg ought to be considered a person, but tell me that six inches of travel makes the difference between personhood and object status for a viable infant, and you're no better. Worse, even, because the pro-life loons are at least erring in the direction of saving lives, not ending them.

"In practical terms, the Democrats are always going to be identifiable with gun control and the right to sexual and reproductive privacy, regardless of their actual platform."In practical terms, your platform doesn't mean squat, so long as you keep trying to pass gun control laws, and oppose any relief from them. Kerry flies into Washington on Super Tuesday to cast gun control votes, and thinks posing with a dead goose means something? Sure, it means something: It means he thinks we're stupid, and the message was recieved, loud and clear.

I have to admit, most of the essay above was, well, so orthogonal to my way of thinking, that I'm going to have to put a great deal of work into figuring out what it actually meant. There are obviously a lot of assuptions built into it that I just don't share. But it was interesting enough I think that I WILL put that work in.  

Posted by Brett Bellmore

Anonymous said...

Hey, people. Late abortions save women's lives. (See, for starters, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/oct2003/abor-o24.shtml.) They're humane. Quit talking like they're a lifestyle thing. 

Posted by gmanedit