18 Jun Everything is Political?
“By politicizing morals and ethics, America has done an outstanding job of tearing itself apart, which has fulfilled extremist goals as well as the goals of America’s enemies.” – The Lonely Realist
Politics should be about ensuring that government operates effectively and efficiently by properly focusing on public safety and sound fiscal and foreign policy-making. America’s politics (as compared to many other nations’ politics) does not pit good against evil … despite what extremists of both the far left (including Antifa and so-called “Progressives”) and far right (followers of QAnon, the Proud Boys, alarmist commentators and white supremacist groups) propagandize. Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party is evil or anti-democratic or seeking to weaken the country. Both have the best of intentions and neither wishes the country ill. Unfortunately, neither has a record of exceptional governance or unflawed decision-making …, which is why America’s history reflects a periodic changing of the Party-in-power. Both Parties have strengths and weaknesses and, consequently, both have historical proponents and contemporary detractors. The platform of each extolls its brand of fiscal, public safety and foreign policy-making acumen … and then adds a few more platform items that are intended to lure single-issue (fringe?) voters. Despite attempting to take their own definition of the high road, each Party’s “big tent” necessarily attracts extremists who factually or fantastically base their politics on the fundamental correctness of their Party’s ethics and the immorality of the other’s. Doing so pollutes American politics, weakens Americans’ belief in democracy, and undermines the focus of America’s government. A couple of examples…
Does life begin at conception … or when a fetus can survive outside the womb? Is that a religious question or a medical one? The answer does not boil down to a universal truth. It also does not bear on public safety or fiscal or foreign policy and necessarily varies depending on the belief of the individual being asked. The question raises a moral and ethical dilemma that requires personal soul-searching that cannot be resolved by government fiat. Most importantly, the pro-life/women’s rights issue is not about good versus evil. Yes, there are two sides, but each side’s position is founded on a fervent set of honestly-held beliefs that should be respected. The issue in America became politicized for electoral leverage in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, with those opposing Roe siding with the fundamentalist faction of the Republican Party and those espousing a woman’s right to choose siding with the socially liberal faction of the Democratic Party (even though historically Democrats anchored much of their support among Catholic voters who favor a right-to-life and Republicans found much of their support among libertarians favoring individual choice). The result has been to divide America based on what is inherently a moral/ethical issue that does not enhance effective government. When wielded as a political weapon, moral/ethical issues fracture society along lines that have little to do with a well-run government. As the world’s most diverse religious, racial and ethnic society, Americans over the past 230 years have come to accept that there are legitimate (ethical, cultural, racial, religious, gender and tribal) differences among Americans … and it is the acceptance of those melting pot differences that made America the global success story. By polarizing politicizing differences, factions in America’s Political Parties are undermining both the efficient workings of government and the inherent Americanisms that made America such a success: Constitutionalism (discussed here and here), the Rule of Law (discussed here), the American Dream (discussed here), American democracy (discussed here), American Exceptionalism (discussed here), and American capitalism (discussed here). The recent leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has significantly impacted Americans’ faith in government (which was near an all-time low to begin with) … and especially in the Judicial Branch of government where public trust is now plumbing new depths.
Politicizing Americanisms weakens America.
Should every American be allowed to own a gun, or two guns or ten? That analysis should differ from the analysis of the abortion issue because gun control involves public safety – is it safer for individuals to arm themselves in self-defense or safer to prohibit firearms that can be used by criminals, haters and the mentally unstable? Whatever the statistically-correct answer, the Constitutional question was answered once and for all by the Supreme Court 14 years ago and repeated by the Supremes in subsequent Second Amendment decisions. Accordingly, the right to freely bear arms (and the consequences of doing so) therefore is as embedded today in America as the American Dream, American democracy, American Exceptionalism, American capitalism … and abortion rights. It is precisely because of the politicized ethical/legal controversy over abortion rights that many Americans argue that gun rights now are fair political game and are seeking a political solution to limit or eliminate those rights. Although the Supreme Court in Roe believed that it was reading the Constitution as speaking clearly on the abortion issue, we’ve recently learned that Supreme Court decisions may be stripped of precedential value for political reasons: After all, a major plank in the Republican Party’s 2016 Presidential platform was that the “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life” and candidate Donald Trump declared that he would appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe which, when elected, he did … and which the justices are about to do. Gun rights and abortion rights therefore are destined to be hot-button political issues that will continue to weaken America by distracting its elected officials from their core functions. Virtually all issues are now being politicized, with politicians seemingly focused on almost anything that garners votes rather than sound public safety and fiscal and foreign policy-making.
A collateral consequence of politicizing ethical/moral issues is that in addition to de-emphasizing public safety and fiscal and foreign policy, it encourages a good-versus-evil electoral approach that undermines democracy itself by emotionalizing single-Party control of government. This has been facilitated by computer-assisted gerrymandering that leads to single-Party-alignment in the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. When the President is a member of the same Party as the Senate (as a consequence of Electoral College alignment), Supreme Court appointments can make for one-Party rule …, which is how the reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe evolved. That’s not what America’s Founders intended by attempting to balance/offset power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Politicizing Americanisms indeed weakens America.
An index of TLR titles can be found here.
Finally (from a good friend)