We're hovering somewhere near the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade, which, of course, means our inability to discuss the matter as a people will be highlighted as each side - Dead Babies! You Hate Women! - screech at each other in a ritualized ragegasm that is as predictable as it is boring.
I thought this approaching date on our national cultural, social, and political liturgical calendar would be a good time to chide the Democratic Party for stirring up the fears of so many potential voters. The prime time for the anti-abortion crowd to get their mojo working was the previous decade. Instead, they picked fights over stem cells and a non-existent practice called "partial-birth abortion" as a way to keep the money flowing and the activists active. While it is indeed the case that the low-level domestic terror campaign against women's clinics has resulted in fewer such places operating, restricting practical access to a variety of services including abortion, as a legal matter, the status quo on abortion rights - revised in Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v Thornburg in 1989 - is under no threat of drastic change.
All the same, all one need do is whisper "pro-life candidate" and the screeching from Democrats begins. Not only will abortion be outlawed and the doctors and women involved become criminals; contraception, pre-marital sex, sex education in public schools, the introduction of mandatory chastity belts, the sterilization of all women of all ages - there is no end to the claims by pro-choice proponents in the fear-mongering over this issue. Common sense and a glance at recent history should be enough to quiet the chilling tales of what might happen should this or that candidate be elected to this or that office.
I shall confess here and now that I used to let this kind of thing sway me. Not just on matters regarding reproductive choice and women's health and the regulation of sexual activity. On all sorts of things. I operated out of a mindset that saw political opponents not as opponents, but as threats. Standing now outside the largely false dichotomies and ridiculous irrelevance of so much of our politics and public discourse, I yearn for just one figure in politics to say, "You know, Mitt Romney has his pluses and minuses as a person, but the question before us is whether or not the policies he proposes would be in the best interest of all Americans."
Of course, I also yearn for warp drive technology so I can go to another planet where things make sense.
It isn't just Republicans and conservatives who practice the politics of fear. I wore partisan/ideological blinders long enough to buy in to that notion. It certainly didn't help that much of the politics of the previous decade consisted of waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 around to silence anyone saying anything about Pres. Bush's policies. All the same, it just isn't true that only conservatives and Republicans play upon our fears to get people motivated to support candidates.
I grew tired of being afraid some time ago. Pres. Obama used to talk about hope, but I'm guessing the coming year is gonna be dire warnings about everything from the fragile state of the economy to Republican spies in our bedrooms policing our sex lives moreso than vague pledges of fealty to hope. Hope sounds nice. Fear gets the epinephrine pumping. I'm tired of thinking my fellow citizens are either too stupid to understand reality, or too elitist to understand how the real world works. I am weary of the name calling.
I am not speaking now of the politicians. I have little doubt they will continue to stoke our fears of all those horrid Christian thugs waiting to guard the wombs of our women even as they lock Muslims and atheists up forever under Pres. Obama's practice of lawful indefinite detention. What better way to make sure folks get the message than the hint that our country teeters on the edge of a chasm, and only our heroic efforts can pull it back?
I am speaking more about partisans, particularly those who write on the internet. It would be nice if those folks tamped it down a bit. Stop yelling. Stop seriously discussing the alleged threats to the Republic posed by a Romney/Gingrich/Paul/Santorum Presidency. Even should such an unlikelihood come to pass, we made it through eight years - EIGHT YEARS, FOLKS! - of George W. Bush. Stop calling them wingnuts and Rethugs and Christianist fascists and all the other names out there.
Our times are uneasy. The folks who support Republican candidates are our fellow citizens, uneasy by the uncertainty of our times. Making them not just folks who think differently than we do, but our enemies, a threat to the survival of the nation may be good politics. It is also bearing false witness against our neighbor. The nation will not collapse should a Republican be elected to the White House. Our rights and freedoms are under far more threat from the actual practices of the incumbent, particularly regarding indefinite detention, the recently passed NDAA, and the targeted assassination of American citizens (even if I occasionally voice support for this or that actual assassination) than by some spectral Republican candidate.
Man up, Democrats. Stop being a bunch of pussies. Seriously.