Monthly Archives: December 2012

Lies Republicans Tell Themselves: “Border Security”

Arizona-ImmigrationIn the few days following the election in November, there was a lot of kerfuffle about “demographics”, and the GOP inability to connect with Hispanics, and the GOP shooting itself in the foot by being so harsh on illegal immigrants.  Many commentators declared that Republicans “must now support amnesty” to get back in the good graces of this fast growing sector of the electorate.  While this was rebutted by folk like Rush Limbaugh, who correctly pointed out that Reagan passed amnesty and the GOP lost Hispanic votes as a result, all of this seems to miss the point, which is:  Republicans are lying to themselves on immigration.  And the public know it, and they hate it.

While I am usually the first to call out Democratic demagoguery on race, the bottom line is that much of the GOP rhetoric on immigration is designed to appeal to people’s racism.  Hispanics can figure that out pretty quickly.  Intellectual Republicans will fudge that by saying “It’s all about border security”, but they are deluding themselves.  Even if it was about border security, the public can hear the dog whistle – they see it as wanting to keep immigrants out, whether legal or otherwise.

Once upon a time this was smart politics.  Now, not only is this dumb politics, it’s not even consistent with Republican Party values.  People who want to make something of themselves as individuals by working hard are the embodiment of the American dream, and that’s what 99% of prospective immigrants to the United States are.  It is Republican values in action.  The argument that immigrants come and bleed off of social services has some weight, but that is not a problem with immigration.  That is a problem with America’s hypocritical welfare programmes.  Every law abiding, non-mooching immigrant represents labour by which the economy can grow, and has a positive effect.  It makes no sense to keep those people out, and the reason there are so many illegal immigrants sneaking in is simply because America needs them, and yet the law won’t allow them to come.

greencardmazeThe GOP needs to not only welcome immigration, but campaign to make it much much easier to do so legally.  Candidates should be campaigning for more immigrants!  The policy should change so that any law abiding individual should be able to get a green card if they want one.  It should be a simple case of doing a background check on them, then letting them stay if they check out.  Illegals already here could be given a period to apply also, and if they don’t, then they get deported.  The GOP could outflank the Left on this issue, but crack down on illegals for “border security” at the same time.  And they would be doing it without offering that dreaded condition known as “amnesty”.

All this would solve the problem of folk scaling fences and swimming rivers in “coming to America”.  If they are good people, they should have no problem being granted a visa.  The only ones left entering illegally will be the real criminals, and nobody will care if you crack down on those.

Really, what principle are the Republicans defending in being belligerent on immigration?  Everybody agrees that borders should be secure, but that is a separate issue from how many people you decide to let in legally.  By ignoring the latter issue and focusing on the former, they are simply alienating potential voters.  If they addressed the levels of legal immigration, without neglecting border security either, they might lose a few of their base voters, but there is no concrete argument against immigration that doesn’t betray underlying xenophobia, and like the segregationists of the South, those voters will dwindle.  The GOP should not cater to them.  If they are bothered by “moochers”, they should change the welfare laws and see if that doesn’t fix the problem.

Taking Contraception Off the Table and Putting It Over the Counter

jindalThis is good stuff from Bobby Jindal.  It’s something that nobody other than Santorum is going to be bothered by.   It also means the Sandra Flukes of this world can’t keep demagoguing on it.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said oral contraceptives should be available over-the-counter in a Thursday evening op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The self-described “unapologetic pro-life Republican” governor of Louisiana said this would lower health-care costs, prevent government intrusion into citizens’ lives and fight the influence of big pharmaceutical companies.

“As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control,” Jindal said in the op-ed.

Jindal cited a December committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which came out in favor of over-the-counter access to the pill “to improve contraceptive access and use and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates.”

As I said in an earlier post – the GOP will win next time by shifting on some issues where it is clearly sensible to do so, but retaining their values on more substantial ones.

Why Feminism Is Officially Dead

This is a real mail flyer for Rack Room Shoes:

daddysmoney

I can’t figure out whether that’s actually a brand of shoe, or whether the store is trying to encourage teenagers to seek the financial patronage of older men?  Either way, you can stick a fork in Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer – they’re done.

Lies Republicans Tell Themselves: Rhymes With “Schmischschmortion”

One of the most perplexing aspects of American politics to me is the obsession over abortion, a debate which civilised countries largely settled over forty years ago.  Part of this is because the legal right to an abortion exists because of a court decision (Roe vs Wade), rather than any legislation such as the British Abortion Act of 1967, or New Zealand’s Abortion Contraception and Sterilisation Act of 1977 (both of which are far more restrictive of abortion than the US).  There is a distinct feeling that the people were not consulted about the idea, which is fair enough.  Especially given that Roe vs Wade, whatever your beliefs on the subject, is simply appalling jurisprudence.  There is no way that the US Constitution guarantees legal abortion.

The situation, however,  is one where there is a guaranteed right to an abortion in the first two trimesters, whatever any President, or state or federal legislature, might have to say about it.  There are only two ways in which this decision can be overcome.  1)  Bring a test case to the Supreme Court, in which they rule (correctly) that no such right exists; and 2)  Alter the US Constitution in some way to clarify the situation.  The second option is not going to happen.  In the case of the first option, it is entirely up to the judiciary – no elected official can guarantee a change.  A President can nominate justices, and the Senate can confirm them, but that is the only leverage they have.  You might still end up with David Souter.

aikenWhat I am trying to say with all this is that the opinion of an elected official on abortion simply has no relevance.  You may as well have asked Todd Aiken what his favourite TV show was.  You can ask a senate or presidential candidate what their views are on judisprudential philosophy, but that would seem to be the only pertinent thing worth discussing.

It follows from this that, as touched on in this article, there is simply no policy programme one could come up with as a politician regarding abortion.  It’s simply a moral issue – something akin to whether you think people should eat meat or not.  It has no relevance.  So for Republicans to keep it alive and keep it on the table can have no positive effect.  The days in which you could get a vote because you said you were “pro-life” are dwindling. 

Even the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are meaningless.  They signify nothing.  For example, I believe that abortion, unless needed to save the life of the mother, is abhorrent and morally wrong in all circumstances, even rape and incest.  But I’m also not of a mind to send anyone to prison for killing their foetus, or aiding and abetting the process.  I’m of the view that foetuses and embryos die all the time, and almost nobody holds memorial services for them, or cremates the “product of conception”.  The sin of abortion is largely a sin against God and against human decency, not against those already born, and it should be dealt with by God, not by the justice system.  So what does that make me?  “Pro-life”?  “Pro-choice”?  Both?

foetusActually, it makes me fairly consistent with most Republican views.  Even Sarah Palin has stated she is unwilling to have women arrested for having an abortion.  That largely makes a mockery of the Republican insistence of making it a campaign issue.  Would Republicans make it a crime?  It seems not.  So why effectively lie to themselves, and to the electorate, when not only do they have no intention of following through, but Democrats build entire election campaigns around demagoguing you on it to turn out their base?  That is dumb, dumb politics.  Herman Cain, in his political naivety, effectively pointed out that the emperor has no clothes in his ill-fated Presidential run last year.  Many commentators saw his views as “confused”.  To my mind, Cain seemed to be the only one who wasn’t confused.  The standard GOP position on abortion is a joke.

A moral position is not the same as a political one.  Politicians should run like hell from making moral pronouncements – on ANYTHING.  People don’t want to know.  Most women, even if they haven’t had an abortion, have a friend who has had one.  If people feel like they are being judged, they won’t vote for you.

It is time Republicans gave up on labelling themselves as “pro-life” and got some sort of consensus around what they are going to do about the abortion issue.  That policy position may be “nothing’.  I could live with that.  But it needs to be a concrete position.  They need to state clearly that they are not going to ban abortion (they can’t anyway), and instead talk about what they can do to ensure mothers see it as a less attractive option than the alternatives.   The debate needs to be had.  The whole issue needs to be taken off the table, because the reality is that it is not on the table anyway, and by insisting that it is on the table without a concrete solution, the GOP can only cost themselves votes.