One thing politicians love to do is take sides. They love to draw a line in the sand and stand on one side of it. It just makes things easier. Answering yes or no takes a lot less thinking than a rambling, nuanced John-Kerry-type response. By splitting every issue down the middle, no matter how complicated it is, our esteemed electable leaders can win over huge chunks of the populace in one fell swoop. It's hard to convince 50% of the populace... it's far easier to make a general statement that they already agree with and make that your position.
For instance, take abortion.
Politicians only take two stances on this issue:
A) Abortion is immoral and should be illegal.
B) Abortion is a personal choice and should remain legal.
By rallying around one of these two statements, candidates maximize their chances of attracting a large group to their side of the sand.
But the issue of abortion is more complicated than: Abortion is murder vs. abortion is not murder. When you talk about making something illegal, you're talking about creating a punishment to fit the crime. In our legal system, that means community service, a fine, jail, or death. As it turns out, not many abortion protestors have given this much thought:
Of course, this video in itself gives a rather simplistic view. Very few, if any, politicians have offered bills that penalize the woman who seeks an abortion. Their bills tend to punish the doctors. The reasoning is, if no doctors will perform an abortion, then no woman can get one. I'll get back to why this is wrong in a second.
But the reason why I posted the video above is to make the point that none of the women interviewed had given the issue any thought. They sat down on the "NO" side of the abortion sand, set up their beach umbrella and their protest sign, and never thought about what it means to make something illegal. They never thought about the effect such a law would have. Abortion is murder, hence, abortion is wrong. They never once questioned the agenda they signed up for. Is their particular anti-abortion chapter for punishing women or against? They don't know. They never even bothered to ask.
This is what happens when you set up two camps and eliminate the spaces in between. You eliminate critical thinking, and are left with a bunch of talking parrots.
And an America of talking parrots frightens me. It should scare you too.
I have no problem with an abortion protester if they can argue their case intelligently. It's when they fall back on, "God said so," or "Abortion is murder," that I have a problem. Because those lines don't represent any thought. They heard someone else say it. They read it in a pamphlet. They repeated it and got a cracker.
If they took the time to examine the issue, they'd realize that making abortions illegal doesn't stop abortions from happening. Back when abortions were illegal, women still got them, in horrifying ways: throwing themselves down stairs, forcing a clothes hanger up their shoozle, going to dirty mexican clinics. Perhaps pro-choice crusaders should put up those pictures next to the aborted fetuses anti-abortion protesters show. From this video, it seems like most of these protesters don't think an abortion merits death. But if abortion becomes illegal, that's exactly what many women who obtain abortions will recieve.
I'm not trying to convince anyone to be pro-choice. But I am trying to convince everyone to THINK. Illegal means punishment, in more ways than one. Not just for doctors. Illegal means rape victims have to carry a rapist's child for nine months. Illegal means a poor mother has to lose her job and go into debt to bring a baby to term. Illegal DOESN'T mean: The U.S.A. is Abortion FREE and a country God can be proud of. Drugs are illegal too. And punishing the dealers and the users hasn't stopped them.
One final thought. If you want to reduce abortions (which is a realistic and honest goal), then attempt to reduce the societal factors which can lead to that painful decision. Institute programs to help expectant mothers. Increase effective means of sex-education. Raise the minimum wage so people can afford to raise their kids. Pass fair labor laws that provide maternity leave and day care help for families. Fund adoption programs. Improve social services and the foster care system. Promote birth control and family planning. Any number of these would reduce abortions, and do it in a safe, effective way.
But I guess that just takes too much work.
P.S. Not that politicians need to play any games. They can just hack the vote.