I am far from the first (or the last) person to bring this up, but, people, is anyone else confused by the fundamental conflicts in extreme conservative rhetoric in the United States when it comes to the dichotomy between fiercely advocating for states’ rights, and denying rights to women? Because it’s really starting to bother me. Oh, scratch that, it’s always bothered me, it just seems to be growing more extreme these days.
On the one hand, we have things like the tea party, arguing for a reduction of big government and a focus on allowing states to regulate themselves. All sorts of reasons are put forward to support these arguments, ranging from what ‘the founders[1. Yeah, I am really gonna trust those guys.]’ would have wanted to arguments that government is inherently wasteful when it’s operating on a national level. The argument is that, federally, we should be focusing on powers enumerated in the Constitution, and leaving everything else up to the states. It’s not just that the federal government should butt out of the states, I note, many of these people also support widespread deregulation in individual states and want state governments to be less involved than they already are.
Hrm, I guess this explains why out of state conservatives always get involved in local state politics, like tons of money pouring into California from Utah in 2008, and from Texas this year. A huge portion of those funds used to buy yard signs and attack ads and polling and a myriad of other things came from people and organisations out of state. Because we should definitely leave states to their own devices and not meddle with the political system in individual states, right?
On the other hand, we have ferocious agitation against abortion rights, not just on an individual state level, but on a federal level in some cases. The same people who cry that big government is too big and needs to be abolished are the ones saying that the womenfolk can’t exercise control or autonomy over their own bodies, and private medical procedures need to be regulated to save women from themselves. Or save fetuses. Or both. Notably, of course, what happens to said fetuses after they fully develop and are born is left up in the air; the sole goal here is forcing people to give birth, not providing for people once they’re born.
Now, some people are clever with the weaseling and they manage to frame their arguments about government interference in states’ rights as well as personal lives and their messages about abortion in a way that doesn’t directly conflict. But deep down, most of these arguments do run up against each other, because they are fundamentally antithetical. You can’t say that you want less government interference in the lives of people living in the US, while agitating for the passage of highly restrictive laws that very much interfere with people’s lives.
And what irks me about this, to no end, is the way these people trumpet the purity of their goals and political ideology, while engaging in activities that clearly muddy the waters in terms of what they are advocating for. You can’t have it both ways. Either you think that the government needs to butt out of personal business, in which case the government needs to get out of the marriage industry and it needs to stop attempting to exert control over pregnancy, or you think that the government does have a right to interfere in personal lives, which means that you can go ahead and advocate for banning certain types of marriages or forcing women to have children against their will.
Like I say, I am not the first person to bring up this dichotomy and to challenge these conflicting claims supporting states’ rights while also denying autonomy to women. If states’ rights are king and trump everything else, then surely, if an individual state decides to pass highly liberalised abortion laws, it’s that state’s prerogative. Yet, if a state did that, I can guarantee you that the people hollering about big government would be bringing every possible tool to bear in protest, from challenging the legislation in federal court (I know, right?) to fueling campaigns to get the law stricken from the books.
And if states’ rights are the most important thing here and we shouldn’t be doing anything on a federal level, than what’s with pushing for things like federal bans on stem cell research? Either the federal government should or shouldn’t be involved in legislating activities in individual states. You don’t get to pick and choose the activities the federal government engages in.
I personally, being a raging socialist, am a huge fan of big government although I’m a bigger fan of efficient big government, which is a possibility if you’re willing to take some time to organise the damn thing. I’m also a huge fan of government at any level, local, state, or federal, staying the hell out of morality. Morality is not something that can and should be legislated, and it’s highly inappropriate to continue pushing for government regulation of personal and private activities. I have no interest in imposing my morality on anyone else, and all I ask is that everyone else do the same; you don’t want to be gaymarried? Then, fuck, don’t get gaymarried, people. You don’t want an abortion? By all means, be my guest and don’t have one. And I’d be happy to see my tax dollars providing support and assistance to your child if you were unable to provide it on your own, which is doing one better than the heartless jerks who want to force women to continue unwanted pregnancies and then refuse to provide any assistance at all to the products of said pregnancies.