Tag Archives: Politics

Let’s Talk About the Real Issue: Defining Personhood

Bernie Sanders went to Liberty University. Hoo-ray for discourse. Students there asked him, after he had said he and they would disagree on abortion, why he is concerned about the lives of the poor but not the lives of the unborn.  (NPR has the story here).

His (wholly unshocking) Democratic answer was that he doesn’t believe the government should interfere in a women’s private medical decisions.

This doesn’t answer the students’ question. The question neither side will agree to talk about directly is when does life start? As a die-hard abortion-is-allowed person, if you tell me a mother killed her 8 month old in-the-womb child, I’d be horrified and call it ending a life. If a mother aborts a 12 week old fetus, it is a medical procedure.

What does this sound like to a pro-lifer? I can imagine it sounds like “A pregnant woman can decide to kill a baby when she wants to.” So Sanders answer is bewildering if not horrific.

For pro-lifers, I guess, life starts at conception. For pro-choicers, it is somewhere else. But there is a line over which once you cross, a fetus is a life.

As I understand it, Roe v. Wade was ALWAYS a compromise about this question. And, as a society, we have to find a workable compromise.

Sanders and other pro-choicers might undercut some of the fervor of “they are killing unborn babies” if they would just shoot straight. “It’s not a baby yet. We need a set of rules for society and law about when it is a baby. If your religion has a different set of rules, fine. Freedom of religion. But where we disagree is not about protecting the unborn baby, which we ALL support, but about WHO gets to decide what is an unborn baby. You want it to be decided by religion. But that is not workable in our democracy. If you are going to live in this democracy, you have to come to terms with a legal basis for this decision and not try to use religion to force your definition on all of us.”

Would this convince pro-lifers? Probably not. But at the very least, it is more honest and doesn’t leave pro-choicers in the weird position of seeming like we are saying that baby-killing is a medical decision.

At best, reasonable pro-lifers could maybe be brought into a conversation about when we are going to say personhood begins. And if they want to talk about this, maybe we can also talk about where it should not go (corporations as political citizens).

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Death of a Movement? Not Sure

Krugman wants to paint Cantor’s loss as the death of “movement conservatism.”  The gist of movement conservatism, as he describes and I agree, is the interlocking of political strategy, bait-and-switch of cultural issues for working class with 1% priorities, with supportive media and think tank institutions.  

Part of movement conservatism’s longevity since the Reagan, I think, is the ability of the mainstream Republican party to absorb the cyclic waves of stoked anger and activists into their rhetoric and policies.  

Seems to me movement conservatism was already proclaimed dead several times, like 1998 midterms, Obama’s election, the “crazies” in primaries in 2010 and 2012 that sank some senate races… and probably others.  Maybe Cantor is cardiac arrest.  We’ll see if the corpus can recover.

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June 15, 2014 · 7:18 am

Is Sociology Too-Leftist?

” Sociology, for example, should be central to so many national issues, but it is so dominated by the left that it is instinctively dismissed by the right.”

So says Nicholas Kristof….

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/kristof-professors-we-need-you.html?_r=1

As a half-sociologist, I have some insight on this. Conservatives would rarely find themselves intellectually in accord with sociology. Modern conservative thought is deeply enamored of a naive economics that assumes that humans always maximize narrow economic interest and that therefore markets will deliver the best outcomes in all cases.

Sociologists, mostly, assume that humans are partly economic, and partly social. In other words, we are motivated by other forces, including family, identity, religion, or ideology. In fact, we cannot understand humans as only individuals, but must always see them as embedded in larger social forces and structures. My point: you can’t really do sociology as a field of inquiry if you agree with modern conservative thought.

So, with all due respect Mr. Kristof, it is a self-selection away from sociology more than any strategic decision to chase off conservatives.

I wish sociology did figure into more discussions of policy, but blaming us for not being sufficiently beholden to conservative thought is misplaced.

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Heart-Warming Story of Small Town Voting

Poll watching updates from Lewisburg, PA

LB X- Everyone all smiles and nice. Not asking for IDs.

LB Y- Everyone pleasant. They seemed puzzled by a poll watcher. But I have been there in past elections and know it was same Judge of Elections. I stayed 45 minutes. They asked everyone “Have you got ID.” Did not _demand_ it and no one refused, so was unable to see how they would react.

The advancement project (http://www.advancementproject.org/) had very good flyer on vote

r rights there. I can’t imagine who laid it out EXCEPT the poll workers. maybe League of W Voters. Good for them.

I was so quiet, they forgot I was there and joked a little about voting machines voting for Republicans or something like that. It really was not an issue. It was more like easing the tension I think they feel about the enormity of responsibility of ensuirng clean and fair election.

Heart-warming bit: the five workers (one elected Judge and four volunteers) knew EVERYONE who voted. In a lull, they talked about how X was the “partner” of Y. I assumed it was business partner. But then it was clear that they meant gay partner. And they were talking about how they always came in separately and acted unconnected. But all these small town neighbors knew and didn’t care. Then they talked about another pair of “partners” and how one had been ill years ago and now was better.

This is very middle-class, middle-of-the-road America. The anti-gay folks have lost the culture war. There are just too many nice, normal gay people out there to dispel the paranoia. The normal gays are EVERYWHERE. 🙂

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