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Look it up: ‘Moderate’ and ‘compromise’ aren’t dirty words

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Look it up: ‘Moderate’ and ‘compromise’ aren’t dirty words

By Paqui Toscano, Editor-in-Chief

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As Republicans and Democrats focus on their differences rather than common goals, factionalism is becoming the status quo in this country. It’s becoming trendy to be either conservative or liberal, while those who are in between are stigmatized and criticized as “flip-floppers.” Congressmen are afraid to compromise because they’ll be perceived as “weak” or will lose their fringe base of support. The concept of moderation is quickly becoming a long-forgotten principle. Compromise is a dirty word to some; bipartisanship, even worse.

As America braces itself for the upcoming election, I too am starting to think about for whom I’m going to vote. I’m very excited about finally being able to vote, after so many years of following politics and not being able to participate in the process. And even though I plan to register as a Democrat, I would have no qualms about voting for a moderate Republican who fosters bipartisanship.

The problem is, no such Republican exists. I’ve watched the debates in South Carolina; I’ve watched the debates in Florida; and I am convinced, now more than ever, that these four Republican candidates are more concerned about proving their conservative credentials than about what is good and healthy for the country.

The issue of abortion is just one example of their extreme stances that are not copasetic with the rest of the country’s mentality. During  the South Carolina debate, I watched those four intelligent, respectable politicians spend 20 minutes arguing who was more pro-life than the other. They were like children, obsessed with proving themselves without thinking about how such a ban on abortion would affect America’s sense of freedom.

In 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, the decision was 7-2. Everyone agreed that although abortion isn’t a good thing, not giving people at least the choice to get an abortion is even worse. However a different breed of Republicans was on the Court back then – like Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justices Lewis F. Powell, Harry Blackmun and Potter Stewart – who were able to separate their personal perspectives from their Constitutional perspectives and did not feel the need to perpetuate this militancy in regard to certain social issues. With the advent of the arrogant evangelical movement and the rise of the Tea Party, these Republicans are no more; their eradication – and the rise of the pro-life movement – is killing bipartisanship, compromise, the concept of moderation and American freedoms.

As Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in his opinion in Roe, “few decisions are more personal and intimate, more properly private, or more basic to individual dignity and autonomy, than a woman’s decision – with the guidance of her physician and within the limits specified in Roe – whether to end her pregnancy. A woman’s right to make that choice freely is fundamental.” It is this fundamental right that Republicans seek to terminate. Quite frankly, the idea of that happening makes me nauseous, and I urge everyone evaluating the issue to separate your political beliefs from your personal beliefs.

Personally, I would never suggest or advocate for anyone I know to go out and actively get an abortion – they are morally repugnant to my own religious ideas and basic morals regarding virtue and humanity. However, I am also not going to be so pompous as to suggest that everyone should have the same morals and religious beliefs as I do. It is, after all, a key concept of American Constitutional law that the government shall not legislate based on religious principles. Evangelical Republicans, however, seek to change that, and they believe that their views on life should be everyone’s views on life. This, however, is not the proper mindset with regards to evangelism, which should be about respectful discussion, offering to take a non-Christian friend to church, and talking about why Christ is the savior – not cruel condemnation, harsh denunciation and severe diatribe.

For some strange reason, I don’t see these sanctimonious pro-life people, who spend countless hours standing along street corners or protesting in front of abortion clinics, actually take initiative themselves and work to be foster or adoptive parents. Instead of working toward helping women who cannot keep their babies in way that would be more pursuant to their (and my) Christian beliefs, they feel the need to spend their time protesting without thinking of the Constitutional crisis for which they are advocating.

Everyone can sensibly understand that murder is wrong and that is it is OK to ban murder – that is part of an occidental secular moral code; however, how can we say that terminating the development of something that is not even alive is murder? Too often, pro-life proponents use the phrase “the rights of the unborn” to defend a ban on abortion. I ask the question: How can a fetus have rights if it is not born? I understand why abortions should be limited after viability. I understand when some say that at that point a fetus actually possesses the constitutionally protected right to life.

But this is not what these Republicans are seeking to do – they strive to ban abortion straight out, which in turn, deprives women of the “fundamental human right to make one’s own children bearing decision,” in the words of Gloria Feldt, former Planned Parenthood president.

In this way, these candidates are also directly attacking our concept of democracy as we know it. As Justice William O. Douglas once said, “The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.” I firmly believe Justice Douglas when he says this. There are many things that people do that perhaps they should not do, but that they should still have a right to do – things such as looking at pornography, advocating for the violent overthrow of the government, being a member of the Ku Klux Klan; and even getting an abortion. But Constitutional protection is not about endorsing actions; it’s about protecting them to ensure a free and democratic society. It’s about giving citizens the privacy to make personal decisions about their actions.

This argument today should not be solely about abortion – in fact, it probably should not be about abortion at all. Rather, it should be about privacy, arguably the most important American right. It is, after all, the root of all other freedoms. Without privacy, the people would be totally beholden to the government, and the government would have complete power over the people. Without the right to privacy, the American government and the Party in the novel 1984 would be one in the same. Oceania and the United States would become synonymous.

The people’s right to privacy is what differentiates democracies from totalitarian regimes. The right to privacy is what maintains the autonomy of the people from which all of the rights of the Bill Rights branch off. That is what we should be thinking of today. We should be thinking about that and liberty – an explicitly protected Constitutional right. The idea that the Constitution does not protect a right to privacy – such an essential, innate and fundamental right – is absolutely absurd. The Ninth Amendment indicates that the founders meant for other implicit rights to be protected, and the first Eight Amendments also by and large indicate that there is an endowed right to privacy.

Furthermore, history teaches us that the countries that don’t grant their citizens some modicum of privacy quickly undergo a metamorphosis into vicious dictatorial governments. That being said, though, even without the right to privacy, the right to choose to get an abortion would still be encompassed in the right to liberty – the liberty to make very personal decisions about your body. Once the government starts telling its citizens what it can do with their bodies, then all democracy – all semblance of freedom – is lost; theUnited Stateswould have started on a slippery slope that will surely lead to oppression.

Liberty has been an explicit part of American government since the Declaration of Independence and is assured to the people in both the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments. These two freedoms, liberty and privacy, are what the Republicans are seeking to strip from the American people – these two freedoms are what the Republicans are seeking to strip from the Constitution.

During the South Carolina debate, former Speaker Gingrich criticized the “pro-abortion” movement. What movement is this again? I know I don’t adhere to such a school of thought. I find Gingrich’s reference to the “pro-choice” camp is offensive; I am in no way for abortion, but I am in every way for the woman’s choice to get an abortion in the first trimester. Gingrich’s word choice is indicative of these Republicans’ all-or-nothing mindsets. If you’re not for abortion, you can’t be for the choice to get an abortion. And that is simply not the case – with any issue. There are always shades of gray between black and white. Their mentality is dangerous; this mentality will kill American politics – and the country. This is not just about abortion; this is about the very future of our country.

Last week, in a column Zach Jarrell claimed that the country needs an extremist politician and that moderates are in some way “weak.” I cannot disagree more. A moderate is exactly what the country needs – someone who can be a respectable figurehead for America without going on militant tirades about their sense of right or wrong; someone who can unite both sides of the political aisle; someone who can compromise and work to get us out of debt. Most importantly, we need someone who can foster much-needed cooperation and compromise in Washington.

A moderate is the future of America. I seriously don’t think that person is President Obama, but I’m sure it’s not one of the four Republican candidates.


4 Responses to “Look it up: ‘Moderate’ and ‘compromise’ aren’t dirty words”

  1. Caroline on February 2nd, 2012 8:21 am

    Yes, yes, YES! Finally, I agree with everything you said, Paqui! Politicians are so busy proving that they’re the stereotypical “Democrat” or “Republican,” that they’re more “Democratic” or “Republican,” that they lose sight of compromise, of actually doing something! I also don’t think abortion is right and wouldn’t advocate it under normal circumstances, but am not arrogant enough to believe that everybody should be forced to follow my beliefs!

    As for the right to privacy, you couldn’t have said it better. Privacy is a right. If the government should be allowed to control what you do to your own body, then they basically own us. I’m pretty sure slavery was abolished over a century ago, but somebody should tell the conservatives that. They seem to think that everybody belongs to the government and that the government can control everything a person does.

    Hmph. “Pro-abortion”? Give me a break. According to this train of thought, all who believe in freedom of religion either believe in multiple religions or aren’t truly religious. (After all, if they truly only believed in one religion, then they’d advocate for only that religion to be allowed). This is just another example of how politicians try to make everything look extreme, instead of trying to compromise. I know people who go to Planned Parenthood regularly, not to get abortions, but because PP offers many other health services cheap for women. They supply birth control, offer check-ups, enlighten women on feminine issues, and many other services that are being cut because certain politicians only want to talk about their abortion services. I have yet to hear a single conservative bring up all the good PP does, outside of abortions. I have yet to see a single politician try to see both sides of an issue and work to bring people together on it, rather than blindly following what their supporters want.

  2. Jeffrey Kremer on February 7th, 2012 5:04 pm

    First off, I would like to assure the reader that Paqui and I are very good friends, and that I think that this is a very well written article. There are certainly some valid points that Dr. Toscano makes in the article.

    That being said, I am afraid that I disagree with Dr. Toscano on some major points, namely those points regarding abortion. I would like to apologize in advance because this will be a rather lengthy comment. I assure the reader that if you are willing to read the above article, this comment is a necessary attachment which logically presents the other side of the argument. So try to stick with me; by the end I will make some very key points. Most importantly, try not to let your emotions get in the way. When it comes to abortion, people tend to get very feisty, myself included. The thing is that if we get angry every time we discuss abortion, we will never advance in these discussions.

    Elizabeth New Life Center
    If you want to find an example of “sanctimonious pro-life people” that “actually take initiative themselves,” you need only look down the street in Kettering. The Elizabeth New Life Center is devoted to helping women find alternatives to abortion. Throughout the Southwestern Ohio region, there are multiple women’s centers and a medical prenatal care center. They also focus on youth development services and marriage education. One of the most admirable things about the New Life Center is that it provides post-abortion support. Abortion does not only impact the fetus; it also impacts the woman carrying out the abortion. Many women are emotionally injured after an abortion. In fact, Jane Roe (her real name is Norma McCorvey) in Roe vs. Wade is one of these women. After the court case, she resorted to binge drinking and obtaining jobs in abortion clinics in an effort to defend her decision to obtain an abortion. She eventually had a complete reversal of her stance and she now works toward reversing the decision that she was involved in 40 years ago. Recognizing that abortion hurts the woman as well as the fetus, the Elizabeth New Life Center helps these women to realize that they can be healed.

    Why does a Person Choose to Oppose Abortion?
    I agree that when it comes to abortion, there is very little bipartisanship and compromise. Paqui was accurate when he stated that congressmen that appear to be moderate, especially on an issue like abortion, will lose their base of support. However, I urge the reader to consider the true reason why pro-life supporters do not want to compromise. Ask yourself: why would someone choose to oppose abortion? I believe there are two viable answers. The first is simply that their religion tells them to do so. It appears that this article targets these people, and I agree on criticizing them. A person should not blindly obey their religion. It is similar to the saying, if someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you do so?

    The other viable answer to my question, though, is that they believe abortion is murder and fundamentally wrong. Take a second to absorb that. People will not compromise on what they believe is murder. People protesting against abortion or volunteering at organizations such as the Elizabeth New Life Center have absolutely nothing to gain from doing so! Rather, they have a selfless interest in mind; stopping the genocide of the unborn. Genocide may appear to be a strong word, but even if the reader does not agree with that opinion, he should understand that pro-life people do feel this way. Banning abortion is not about forcing people to conform to one’s own beliefs; it is about saving the life of a child.

    The Right to Privacy will not Disappear if Abortion is Abolished
    It seems like a fundamental argument in this article is that if abortion is banned, it will set a precedent which eventually dismantles the right to privacy. This does not have to be the case. The main purpose in banning abortion is not to establish control inside a woman’s body, but rather to prevent the murder of a person. The issue is not privacy at all, so this will not set a precedent. Murder is already against the law; a law banning abortion would state that a fetus is a person, and therefore guaranteed the right to life under the Constitution.

    But this is beside the point. A father cannot kill his son because he lives in the privacy of his household. A person certainly does have a right to privacy; unless his right to privacy conflicts with others’ rights, such as the right to life. We do not moan and groan that our right to privacy is being infringed upon because we cannot murder someone. This will be the same with abortion. Once again, the primary issue is not privacy, but that a fetus is being killed.

    Doubt over When Life Begins
    Let’s be honest, when it comes to the unborn, there is a lot of doubt about when life actually begins. Is it when the fetus becomes viable outside the womb, or is it at conception? Because of this doubt, we should not simply perform abortions and hope that the fetus is not alive. Logically, it should be the other way around; we don’t know if the fetus is a person, so we will not risk killing a baby. Paqui’s article attacked people who will not separate their personal beliefs from their political beliefs. But isn’t it a personal belief that life begins at viability? The nine men sitting on the Supreme Court back then were not gods. Therefore, we cannot leave it up to them to determine when life is actually life.

    Communication is Key
    Here lies the ultimate problem with abortion arguments, and also the reason why our representatives cannot compromise in Congress. There is no true communication! When people talk about abortion, most of the time they just end up losing their tempers and yelling at each other. Most detrimentally, they close their ears to everything their opponents say. When discussing abortion, or any other controversial topic, we must learn to see through each others’ eyes.

    In order to truly end abortion, there needs to be a strong national movement which listens to every argument pro-choicers throw at them instead of bashing them completely. Most people should be able to agree that abortion is bad. It is the issue of whether it should be illegalized that makes people angry. Therefore, it benefits everyone to reduce the amount of abortions performed in a way other than illegalizing it.

    At this time, banning abortion completely, whether through law or a constitutional amendment, would go very badly. The country is not ready for it, as seen by the many protesters on both sides of the issue. First, people need to realize that although abortion looks like a viable option, it ultimately only brings pain and suffering to both the fetus and the woman. Only when the nation begins to understand this will we be ready to write a constitutional amendment abolishing abortion.

  3. Mary Kate on February 8th, 2012 8:34 am

    There are actually a few things I agree with you on, Paqui, to a limited degree. I believe that it would be nearly impossible to deny abortions to women without establishing a religion. As it stands, a secular moral code corresponds fairly well with Christianity, and I cannot complain. This fact is actually mentioned in the Bible, in one of the epistles of Paul, when he mentions that the Greeks “already had the law written on their hearts.” My main concern is government funding for a “right” I detest. Although I have not worked for a while, I had a job last year and I paid taxes. I can’t stand the notion that even a fraction of a cent of my income went to an action I vehemently oppose.

    I believe, though, that abortion is a poor topic to use as an example of bipartisanship. Any issue that conflicts with religious beliefs is one that most would not be willing to compromise. While you advocate extricating religion from politics, the fact is many, including me, are unable or unwilling to do so. While a healthy sense of what is implied by the constitution is critical to voting, I’m going to stick with the higher power here. I will never vote in support of something that counters my religious beliefs. You can be happy that I never intend to be a politician.

    I think fiscal policies are a better place to advocate bipartisanship. There are many things both parties could stand to learn from the other, and it doesn’t require anyone to compromise core religious beliefs (except maybe “neither a loaner nor a debtor be,” but capitalism itself can be in conflict with this one). I also think that in our debt-ridden state, fiscal policies are a more pressing need anyway, and we can focus on vague, foggy, and religious issues when we are in better economic standing.

  4. Abby on March 2nd, 2012 7:53 pm

    On the actual topic of the column:
    It’s true that Republicans and Democrats alike are far, far too concerned with proving how conservative or liberal or moderate or what have you they are instead of focusing on what’s best for the country. What we need right now is not necessarily a moderate or a conservative or a liberal. Right now all America needs is a president who will put political (and religious) affiliations aside and push what is best for the country as a whole rather than their party’s political agenda.

    And on the topic of abortion, I can tell you one thing that’s not right for America: banning abortion. The decision to get an abortion is a moral decision. Such decisions should not be pre-made because of certain legislation or Court decisions. The option should be there for those who decide to opt for it. A ban would not prevent abortion — it would just mean that women who feel the need to have one will have to do it in more dangerous ways. If a woman wants to bring “only pain and suffering” to herself, then so be it. It is her decision, not yours. But let her do it in the safest way possible.

    And I’m sure your tax dollars go to plenty of things you don’t approve of.

    I’d also like to point out that, as in the recent birth-control debate, “vague, foggy, and religions issues” become part of the more pressing health care and economic issues because people make it so. People bring religion into political debates. I, personally, believe this should be avoided at all costs seeing as we live in a nation where, yes, you are free to speak about your religious beliefs and believe what you will, but you are also free to not have someone else’s religion forced upon you.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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Look it up: ‘Moderate’ and ‘compromise’ aren’t dirty words