Word games are tempting in a world fraught with apparently imminent disaster (or is that eminent), but they’re not productive by themselves, not if problem resolution is the goal. Unfortunately, the only problem that really concerns our corporate media and political “leaders” is the maintenance of power, and that requires that polarization be heightened, which in turn requires the “creation” and maintenance of polarizing issues, not their resolution.
Abortion is a great example right now, given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (No. 19-1392, 597 U.S. ___ ). The underlying issue seems to me to be irresolvable morally or ethically because it involves the clash of two fundamental social premises (not rights, the concept of rights is incoherent). First, the purported sanctity of life (notwithstanding our addiction to perpetual wars and the death penalty); and second, the right of humans to control their own bodies (notwithstanding government interference in diverse health related issues, including recent pandemic oriented mandatory measures). Law, however, is notwithstanding platitudes to the contrary, not bound to moral or ethical factors. It merely involves the exercise of raw power over individuals based on collective decisions, though it is usually justified using arguments disguised as morality, ethics, justice, equity or pragmatism. In reality, in fact, a great deal of law involves norms imposed in order to maintain a parasitic minority in permanent power.
For about half a century, the availability of optional abortion in order to eradicate errors of judgment by women was protected by the United States Supreme Court through usurpation of constitutional and legislative powers. Not a rarity, unfortunately. Men, on the other hand, did not enjoy a related privilege in conjunction with support related obligations based on their own errors of judgment, and of course, embryos, well what the hell are they anyway but inchoate child rearing problems and drains on our personal economy, especially now that the family has broken down and there is no real tradition of progeny caring for their forbearers in old age. Well, that’s one perspective. The other focuses on the incoherence of state mandated reproduction without shared responsibility for the consequences, responsibilities such as guaranteeing sustenance, housing, education, freedom from violence and adequate employment.
That abortion was rendered conditionally immune from state imposed prescriptions by inappropriate judicial action did not impact the reality of the important social issues involved. They should have been dealt with by the People through their representatives; through exercise of constitutional and legislative duties unfortunately abdicated based on fears of ballot box consequences. They should have been dealt with through constitutional means at the federal level, or constitutional or legislative means at the state level. Unfortunately, notwithstanding emotional angst and hyperbolic outbursts, those responsibilities were ignored and proponents of abortion on demand were too lazy to undertake the social campaign required to condition society to accept their sociopolitical premises, instead, they resorted to the antithesis of democracy, the unelected, life tenured judiciary to come up with an arbitrary solution. But recourse to such strategy inherently involved the probability that the judicially crafted solution to a social and constitutional issue, a political issue, would eventually be undone by a future judicial coup de’ grâce, also circumventing democratic institutions and requirements.
The foregoing is problematic but not malevolent, it is merely lazy and inept. What is malevolent is the use of an issue as important as abortion for purposes of political polarization, specifically, keeping it in constant play as a means to secure political fundraising and political power by those on both sides of the debate, rather than resolving it through democratic decision making. The recent United States Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, while constitutionally sound, does nothing to resolve the issue, nor do purported opponents of the decision appear interested in taking any meaningful actions to legally resolve it in their favor. Rather, they are merely using the case in order to salvage the disaster that seemed to await the political party that has made them its captives, its tools, in this autumn’s Congressional elections.
A lot of noise and fury has been generated, albeit most demanding a continuation in power of a political party that traditionally betrays those who vote in its favor, and protests, a bit of violence and threats of violence, have been omnipresent. However, no tangible efforts to legally and constitutionally attain that which they claim to be essential are being undertaken. That would require reconciling diverse societal perspectives and convincing adversaries through education and logic, but we have come to perceive logic as a disease that afflicts an imaginary race we refer to as Vulcans, and education requires empathy, takes too long, and does not yield immediate and ongoing political dividends. So, riots it is, perhaps with a bit of arson and mayhem thrown in, notwithstanding the platitudes and hypocrisy on display in the so called January 6 Congressional hearings.
And the purported victims? The women who may be unable to obtain abortions and the unwanted children they will be forced to bear and perhaps raise? Why, in an exact analogy to what is occurring to the populace and infrastructure of the Ukraine and the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics, they’re being efficiently used and abused for tawdry political purposes by politicians with nothing but disdain for ethics, morality, legality, democracy or constitutional government, caring only for the acquisition, maintenance and abuse of political power.
The foregoing is true regardless of which side of the abortion debate you call your own. And the same is true with respect to the Second Amendment and gun rights; with respect to superiority hypotheses based on race, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identification, nationality, religion, ethnicity, age, etc.; indeed with any of the emotionally polarizing issues used by our unethical and ruthless elites and their minions to keep us divided and docile, too confused by our emotions (especially fear and hate) to defend ourselves from their predations. The foregoing is true whether you’re a liberal, a progressive, a conservative, a libertarian or addicted to any other ideology.
The real issue today, as it has been through most of history, is the struggle between elite minorities who use their designees to abuse the concept of popular governance for their own greedy ends (today generically identified as “deep states”), and populists on every part of the political spectrum who seek liberation from those ubiquitous predatory parasites by eliminating their monopoly on political power. Unfortunately, like addicts of all kinds, we are drawn to the issues that most effectively polarize us and are all too easily distracted from those that we really need to address, those issues involving real democratization of our political systems and processes and replacement of the political vultures who inhabit all current major political parties. Issues we need to address so that we can civilly and efficiently resolve the policies that divide us, and, recognizing that our society is dynamic and our values variable, develop the ongoing mechanisms necessary for us to justly and equitable govern ourselves, permitting us each, individually and collectively, to realize our best potential.
Freed of our predatory political masters, perhaps empathy (the opposite of polarization) could again become a viable attribute in our political discourse and we could disagree without ridiculing and belittling each other and our respective belief’s, and perhaps we could, in good faith, understand that we all have valid points, and that legitimate democratic governance involves finding those perspectives we share, and granting our government the right to regulate them, but retaining individual autonomy with respect to those areas where a reasonable consensus is unattainable, rather than feeling compelled to always have our own way on every issue. Perhaps someday, hopefully soon, we’ll awake from our induced traces and take our political responsibilities (they’re much more than mere illusory rights) seriously and vote for things in which we believe, rather than against illusory straw arguments crafted to confuse us; vote in favor of candidates in whom we believe rather than against those we’re manipulated into despising, and perhaps then we can cast “lesser evils” into the hells where they belong. We would make mistakes and not always get our way, but at least it would be, “We the People”, governing ourselves. We could not do any worse than the deep states that rule us now.
Something to at least think about.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.