In reading about politics and the division we have in this country now, you sometimes see a phrase that basically says, “We’re really not all that different.” The reason you see that phrase is because it’s mostly true. You don’t often see much in politics anymore that you can actually look at and say, “Well that’s true,” but that phrase is true. Most of the time.
Here, I’ll prove it. Here are ten hot button political topics and how similar we actually are.
1. Education. Democrats are fighting for public education while Republicans think government run education is failing our kids and they want to see charter schools and voucher programs. But guess what? Both parties wholeheartedly agree that our children need educating. You know what else? Whether you’re talking about public, charter, or private, guess where the money comes from to support all of them? Taxpayers. Imagine that. We’re really not all that different.
2. Economy. Both sides have good ideas. Both sides have ideas that are fatally flawed if they are 100% legislated. Very few people actually understand our economy enough to see that. But somehow, over the past 244 years, the two party system has ebbed and flowed in such a way that we’ve basically existed in a lifelong economic compromise. And that has helped a lot more people than it has hurt and made us the economic superpower of the world. We’re really not all that different.
3. Immigration. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, you HAVE to agree that legal immigration is better than illegal immigration. We’re really not all that different.
4. Second Amendment. Since true socialism will not happen in the US (the actual definition, not the fear-mongering one,) here we have the one and only topic that could actually lead to civil war should it be fully repealed. And do you know who would win that war? Those who support the Second Amendment, that’s who. Only 21% of Americans want to see it repealed. Since I’m pretty sure we can agree that we really don’t want to go to war with our neighbors, we’re really not all that different.
5. Gay Marriage. Democrats want it fully legal. Republicans are all but certain they are going to hell. But the one thing we can all agree on is that we have as much desire to go into anybody else’s bedroom and force them to stop their lascivious behavior as we have someone coming into ours and making us stop. We pretty much let people lead whatever sexual lives they want to lead, and because of that, we’re really not all that different.
6. Taxes. Everybody wants fewer, everybody wants to make them simpler to understand and calculate, and everybody agrees that a civilized country doesn’t exist without them. We’re really not all that different.
7. Term Limits. Depending on the survey, somewhere between 75% and 82% of Americans want to see term limits for elected officials. We’re really not all that different.
8. Health Insurance. We all need it, we all agree it’s too expensive, and we all hate paying for people that don’t have any. We’re really not all that different.
9. Voter ID. Americans understand why gas stations ask for ID to get beer. They understand showing ID to use a credit card. They understand verifying the identification of anybody seeking financial services to ensure that someone’s identification hasn’t been stolen. And every person on the planet probably agrees that in a perfect world, we’d find a way to get every single person in America an ID. We don’t have a perfect world, but we have the technology to do THAT. If we can zoom into the skylight in somebody’s house and watch them get dressed, we have this technology. Few people can disagree with that aspect of it. We’re really not all that different.
10. Climate Change. Have you ever heard somebody say, “You know, I think we should do whatever is possible to destroy our planet?” The answer is probably no. We’re really not all that different.
That is until you get to the gigantic elephant in the political room. You already know what it is. It’s abortion, of course. So let’s take this time to do something Americans haven’t done in many years. Let’s just talk about it.
For many, many Americans, it is THE issue that keeps them in their political party, whichever one it is. I’ve read literally thousands of stances and arguments on abortion over the years, and they are ALL the same regurgitated arguments, and in many cases, it is the only ammunition people have in condemning the other party.
I was inspired to write about abortion a couple of weeks ago when I saw somebody on Facebook say that the primary function of government was to protect the innocent. Now I know that the irreproachable medium known as Facebook is not the greatest of resources, but it is an incredible resource in understanding the minds of voters. I already knew that it was the flagship issue of the Republican party, but I did not know that people felt that protecting unborn children was the primary function of government. It’s obviously important because I don’t mind the village helping me protect MY kids, but I questioned whether or not that was the most important function of government.
According to the Preamble of the US Constitution, our government was formed with six main functions. 1) Form a more perfect union, 2) Establish justice, 3) Insure domestic tranquility, 4) Provide for the common defense, 5) Promote the general welfare, and 6) secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
Obviously there are ways to do what both parties love to do and spin their most heartfelt political desires into any number of Constitutional amendments, clauses, phrases, articles, sections, or whatever, but clearly none of those functions listed in the Preamble say anything specifically about protecting the innocent.
Regardless, it is THE issue that most divides us, and I don’t see that changing in my lifetime. So let’s run down the pedestrian, overused, mind-numbingly repetitive arguments of both sides and then attack this subject from a place that nobody does.
The Republican Arguments
There are many, so let’s just list them quickly. 1) Democrats are condoning murder, 2) Democrats ARE murderers, 3) It’s not the woman’s body, it’s the baby’s, 4) The baby has exactly the same rights as the mother, 5) It’s against the teachings of the Bible, 6) A fetus is a baby, 7) Life begins at conception, 8) It’s not the baby’s fault that the woman was irresponsible, 9) It’s not the baby’s fault the woman was raped, 10) Democrats care more about sea turtle babies than human babies, and 11) there’s probably a dozen I’m not listing, but you get the point. There are a lot. And not a single one is changing anybody’s mind on the other side.
The Democrat Arguments
Once again, there are many, so let’s list them quickly. 1) My body, my choice, 2) Republicans want to ban it because they want to control women, 3) God ordered lots of babies killed in the Bible, 4) Republicans care about unborn babies but not starving children, poor people, immigrants, black people, “insert other stereotyped race or culture here,” 5) We’re pro-life, too, we just know abortion isn’t going away if you ban it so we might as well make it safe, 6) Republicans are hypocrites because they care about unborn babies but not the environment, that place where we all have to live, 7) You can’t ban abortion entirely because of birth defects and rape, 8) If you ban it, it’ll happen anyway, and 9) there’s probably a dozen I’m not listing, but you get the point. There are a lot. And not a single one is changing anybody’s mind on the other side.
But the Anger Decimates Any Chance at Dialogue
Think about it. Have you had a productive conversation about abortion in the past ten years where you were actually swayed one way or the other by the person to whom you were talking? Or did you both go into the conversation pretty well set in your ideology and there was no way in hell anybody was going to change your mind?
If we could talk to each other, we would know that the other party is right. Beliefs are not wrong, they are simply unproven in many instances. But they are not wrong. It is hard to dispute that abortion is a type of premeditated homocide. It is hard to dispute a woman who believes a fetus is 100% part of her body because she is the only way that new life lives.
It is hard to dispute that life actually does begin at conception. I mean, if it doesn’t begin at conception, when exactly does it begin? It is likewise hard to dispute that a Constitutional ban on abortion will NOT make it go away. Yes, it’ll be illegal, but it WILL happen. No realistic person can say that it won’t.
Each party’s stance is correct in their view. And since it’s an issue with two correct answers, compromise and teamwork are the only ways to get the country closer to having only one correct answer. That will never happen, mind you, but I’d rather this country be closer to unity than division. I bet you would, too.
I’m running for office unaffiliated for many, many reasons. Abortion is one of those reasons. It’s a pretty big reason, too. The two sides refuse to have actual discussions about it, and I refuse to be a candidate who people assume to know just because of a letter beside my name. So I don’t have that baby killer “D” beside my name and I don’t have that hypocrite “R” beside my name for exactly the reason that this sentence is bullshit. Baby killers and hypocrites are nothing more than dangerous stereotypes, and they lead to zero productive dialogue and cross-the-aisle hate that is quite tedious to constantly digest.
I am, like many, many people on this Earth, pro-life, and to me it is the only thing that makes sense. I’ve had three babies, and I fell IN LOVE three times by the most amazing creatures I’ve ever laid my eyes on. But my stance is not what builds good, inclusive, empathetic, sustainable legislation. The question we have to ask in order to build that kind of legislation is this:
If abortion is to ever warrant a discussion of complete prohibition, we MUST figure out why there is such a gigantic demand for it. And when we figure that out, we MUST, as a bipartisan nation, figure out how to lessen that demand.
We already know a lot of the reasons why there is such a demand for it. Culture, parental involvement, sex on television, social media, lack of sex education, diminishing religious population in the US, the invincibility of teenagers, poverty, hormones, alcohol, etc. Hell, we can probably include pandemics in that list now. There are a LOT of reasons why unwanted pregnancies happen. What are we doing as a nation to lessen that number other than bitching about who’s right?
Speaking of numbers. Have you seen them? One in four women will have an abortion before the age of 45. ONE in FOUR. Based on our current population, that’s over 41 MILLION women and they’ve had over 60 MILLION abortions since 1973. Those women are black, white, Hispanic, and lots of other nationalities – and yes, black and Hispanic populations have higher percentages of women who get abortions – and those women included in all these stats are both Democrats AND Republicans, so why in the hell can’t we come together to lessen the demand?
The answer? The sides don’t actually want to because they refuse to budge on their position. They don’t care to think outside their little boxes and find the reasons the other side feels the way they do. They don’t want to compromise. But realistically, the legality of abortion must be seen as something that might never be resolved because we can’t actually prove that other people’s beliefs are wrong.
Is the Republican belief on abortion wrong? No, it is not. It is simply what they believe. Is the Democratic belief on abortion wrong? No, it is not. It is simply what they believe. It is possible to never stray from your beliefs while doing what is best for a VERY diverse culture in order to end one of the most divisive issues in our lives.
We have to talk, though. We have to find a way to collectively lessen the demand for something that divides us so mercilessly.
So feel free to ask me if I’m pro-choice or pro-life. I’ll say I’m pro-life. And then I’ll say that it’s not up to me if abortion is outlawed. It’s up to the 41 million women who will need one in their life at some point. And it’s up to the millions of men who plant 41 million seeds. It’s also up to the assholes who choose rape because they could care less if they ruin a woman’s life. And it’s up to ALL of us to find out why those numbers are so damn big.
And then we have to do something about them. I find it difficult to justify taking away the legality of the procedure before we take away the demand for it. The good news is, if we lessen the demand, not only will we reduce the number of abortions, my guess is that our work in getting to that place will cause the moral fabric of the entire nation to strengthen.
Sure sounds better than the constant bitching we do now that gets us absolutely nowhere but pissed off and uncivil.