thefourthvine: Art from Forsaken, with the text "I know politics bore you." (Politicis)
Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2012-11-15 10:06 am

[Rant] Politics Without Should

(TW: abortion and the politics thereof.)

(Additional warning: serious business.)

Recently, I tweeted this:

"If you’re pro-life, you’d better also be pro-welfare. If you vote pro-life but against welfare, you’re actually pro-child-misery."

I assume this requires no explanation, but here's a brief one. Women know when they shouldn't have a baby. Many of them, when that is true, seek abortion. If your vote prevents them from getting it, you've forced a child to be born in a bad situation - just to name two examples, that child is at much higher risk of poverty and at much greater risk of living in a household affected by domestic violence. (Yes, you've also inflicted a great deal of harm on the woman herself, but if you're pro-life, you're okay with that. So we're focusing on the child, here. The person you claim you want to protect.) Welfare is one of the means we use to protect children in bad situations. If you simultaneously vote to stop abortion and to cut welfare (and, I might add, other government services), then what you're really saying is, "I'm absolutely in favor of children suffering. I'm entirely willing to increase the number of children in harm's way in this country, and I'm also entirely willing to make sure there's no help for them. Because that's easier and better for me."

In short: congratulations, you're a fucking asshole.

So tweeting this was interesting. I got a lot of FUCK YEAH type replies. I also got some replies from righties. And my discussions with them all fell apart at the same place.

"But the woman should take responsibility!"

"The woman should work to support her kid!"

"The man should stay and help raise his child!"

Yup. Every conversation fell apart as soon as the righty used the word "should."

Here is a true fact: fuck should. Should has no place in policy. We make laws about what is actually happening, not what would happen in an ideal universe, because, newsflash: we don't live in an ideal universe.

So I would point out that hey, this isn't how the world actually works. In reality, men leave. In reality, women can't simultaneously support their kids and pay for childcare on a minimum-wage income. In reality, a woman forced to have a child is in a bad situation, and it is likely to get worse, and if we have a law that put her in that place, that's on all of us. (And in case you think I'm just talking about abortion, and if we just allow abortion we can cut the safety net no problem: until we fix education, racism, abuse, addiction, and poverty, among other major issues, we've still got to step in. Because we owe it to our fellow humans not to let them suffer needlessly when we can help. The end.)

And the social conservative would either step out of the conversation entirely, or go into a sort of a critical error of the brain, except the blue screen of death in this case was just the repetition of the words "personal responsibility" and "should."

Social conservatives appear to think that if they just make laws that perfectly reflect their ideal universe, that universe will somehow be willed into being.

This hasn't worked yet. It's never going to work. It's fucking stupid. And these conservatives actually already know that. (Proof: most of these people are Christians, and Christians are supposed to be into peace and against killing, and yet I never once heard any of them argue that we should abolish the military.) They're just using their talisman words, "should" and "responsibility," to avoid confronting the fact that they, themselves, are personally responsible for the suffering of children.

So this has resulted in the formation of my new rule of political discourse: If you can't phrase your political argument without the word "should," you can't participate in the discussion at all. Seriously. Go away. You're done with politics; you need to take up model airplane building or knitting or something. (Tell the plane that the parts SHOULD be easy to put together! Tell the wool that it SHOULD NOT tangle!)

It's time for people who make some attempt to see reality to design policy.

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