Saturday, May 5, 2012

The fracturing of social liberalism

I've been thinking about why the religious right has had such tremendous success in the United States.  There are some obvious reasons.  9/11 springs to mind the most quickly.  After all, the way to dramatically demonstrate our separation from those terrorist attacks is to embrace the majority religion of the country - Christianity.  But, surely that kind of fervor should have faded by now?  I mean, our being united as a country in the face of the enemy faded two days after the attacks.  The good will other nations had toward us was squandered within a few short years.  So, why has this attachment to fundamental Christianity stayed so firm within our government?

I think that a part of the problem comes from the unity of the social right, and the fragmentation of the social left.  I consider myself a libertarian, though I realize that my particular party has a lot of faults.  My biggest problem with my fellow libertarians is that they are focused more on fiscal conservatism more than social liberalism.  They seem to be only concerned with paying less taxes, rather than protecting individual liberties.  (I have not missed the fact that the majority of the libertarians are straight, white men, and so therefore do not typically have their liberties stripped of them by the moral majority.)  Those who *are* focused on the social liberalism often do so because they want to be able to smoke pot legally, rather than because they want to promote any sort of social justice.  This leaves me with only a small amount of libertarians who are actively concerned with the overreaching of the government, and how it has demonstrably shown it's inability to manage itself, much less the country.

Many of my friends and acquaintances are socialists, in fact, the majority of them are.  Many of my social group are also democrats, and a minority are republicans.  The republicans seem to move in lock-step with one another.  And if they don't, they slowly become brought into the fold.  I've seen two acquaintances go from a libertarian outlook of "We don't care what you do in your social life, and it shouldn't matter to the government either" to the religious right outlook of "Same-sex marriage is morally unacceptable, and so therefore our government shouldn't accept it as a legal possibility."  I find this change to be somewhat baffling.  How can reasoning people go from wanting limits on the control of government to an outlook which promotes the government making more decisions on the citizens' behalf?

Much like the republicans have somewhat abandoned the libertarian party, the democrats do not seem to want to touch the socialists with a ten-foot pole.  As a result, you have three socially liberal groups, none of which work together (and this does not count the further fracturing within each group, I laid out how the libertarians are fractured, the socialists and democrats are not much different, I imagine).  So, is it any wonder that the religious right is so successful?  How can many fractured groups stand against the tide of a strong opposition?

So, how do we resolve this?  We must agree to disagree on certain issues.  I think we can afford to quibble on fiscal policy later, but we need to focus on some of the outrages of the religious right, now.  Until relatively recently, I thought the "War on Women" was hyperbolic rhetoric.  I could see a war on abortion, but on women?  Not so much.  However, laws are being considered to demand that women provide proof that they are not using contraception as contraception, but rather as a medication for other issues.  Domestic abuse has been decriminalized in at least one jurisdiction.  Republicans stood against the Violence Against Women act.  One state has even repealed a law that demanded that employers could not choose how much to pay their workers based on sex.

In addition to the battles that women have to face, LGBT rights are also being attacked all over the country. After a rash of suicides of gay youth, some politicians felt that we should try to work against bullying.  But many stated that terrorizing children is a right protected by the First Amendment.  Seriously, there have been movements to actively protect the "right" to bully someone to suicide in state legislatures.  It's being considered now in Missouri, along with outlawing Gay-Straight Alliances in schools (because THAT doesn't somehow violate anyone's right of Free Speech).  The idea is that by not allowing people to terrorize other people, they are violating a person's freedom to express their religion.  (I mean, that's only not okay if it's a Muslim doing it, right?)  Do I really need to get into the same-sex marriage debate at this point?  I mean, even if you take that out of the equation, the pro-bullying laws are enough to demonstrate irrational hatred of LGBT people, the same-sex marriage issue is just extra sprinkles of shit for this shit sundae.

There are these obvious issues which our country is facing, and yet, we continue to let this stuff slide.  I think we need to make a more concerted effort to demonstrate to our elected officials that we are not going to take this any more.  We need to get serious!  We need to write our elected officials - bombard them! - with our demands that they look towards the liberty and protection of our citizens.  We need to demand that they stop seeking the approval of Wall Street, and start paying attention to those of us on the ground.  We MUST vote.  If you don't know which district you're in, and who is running for what, I can point you in the direction that you can find out.  We need to demonstrate that we are paying attention to what is going on!  No more sleeping.  And we need to fully realize that social liberalism is what binds us together, regardless of fiscal concerns, regardless of party lines, we need to stop looking at this as "my team" vs "their team", but rather, look at this as, "my team" vs "the elite who control this country".  And we need to show the elite what kind of power we have.

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