I had promised myself that I would not comment on the current US election. Mainly because I am not an expert on politics, not least an expert in a foreign nation’s politics, and because, as someone who is not eligible to vote in the US elections*, I really do not see it as my place to comment.
However, the recent gaff made by Todd Akin and numerous other stories about the beliefs of Republican candidates and supporters made me wonder what is was that the Republican party was actually trying to achieve. It also made me worry that opinions and policies expressed over in the US often have a habit of travelling across the pond and influencing our politicians here…
Thing is, I have a feeling that these politicians are getting something seriously wrong. I think they are operating under a massive misconception which I feel someone should point out them.
The purpose fo science fiction dystopias are to scare us into not doing the things that led to the dystopia. They should not be seen as a manifesto for how you would like to see your country run.
Take The Handmaid’s Tale by Margeret Attwood. Now, I am not aware of her actual opinions on politics or the dynamics of the ‘gender war’** but I am fairly certain that when she sat down to write this stark and frightening vision of a world where women are treated like cattle she did not do so with the intention of drafting Republican party policy. I am sure her intention was something linked to perhaps warning us about the speed at which freedoms could be eroded by an unscrupulous government or the horror inherent in treating other human beings like objects. It’s a warning both to those who might be targetted by such policies and also to those who might implement them in the hope that both can work to avoid such a consequence.
Yet, by expressing such opinions as Akin has, about how there is a concept such as ‘legitimate rape’, or talking about bans on abortion and contraception, these politicians are indeed following the path which could lead to Attwood’s vision becoming a reality. Any policy or belief which implies that women are incapable of looking after their own bodies or making their own decisions should not be considered.
Ok, Akin was not, apparently, expressing the party line in this issue. Fair enough. But what he has said in my opinion represents an underlying current in the party which is certainly present. Offical policy or not, there are enough Republicans who believe this sort of nonsense and there are states in the US where it is currently illegal for a woman to get an abortion or for doctors to use certain treatments on a woman on the offchance she may be pregnant.
It leads me to wonder exactly what the purpose of government actually is. In my personal opinion I would say that it was there to make lives easier for the populace of a country, to organise things that we need such as transport and water and food and make sure that these things are clean and fairly administered. Crime prevention and the establishment of laws to promote civil order is another role they are needed for. They also allow us to pool resources in the form of taxes to make better use of said resources. Because, hey, while no one likes to pay tax, you have to admit a simple cut of your income is far better than having to fork out a hell of a lot more to pay indiviually for all the little things that governments do for you. I would even, grudgingly, admit that a government’s role may also be to defend a nation against attack though I would also say that it should not be their role to attack other nations in the name of said defence.
All these things and more I would say are the responsibility of a good government and maybe I am too much of an idealist to consider such things as being part of what modern governments do since the evidence seems to prove me wrong in many cases.
However, I would not say that the role of a government extends to imposing control over an individual’s body when that body has committed no crime other than to be born with a particular set of genes. To then hide such blatant prejudice against what amounts to 50% of the voting public behind some religious based excuses which have as much to do with faith and belief in God as their policies have with the true nature of politics smacks of cowardice.
If I were in the Republican party leadership now, I would be seeking through my membership roll for someone, anyone, who was moderate and liberal and intelligent enough to speak out about the current political issues without being sexist or homophobic. I’d then put them forward and get them to answer all questions about my policy and hope to hell none of the dinosaurs manage to outshout him or her. Only then, once this mythical and possibly non-existent Republican has got a few decent soundbites into the media, I might consider that there was a chance they might win the election. Any election. Because, frankly, from where I am sitting, you aren’t looking all that good at the moment and I will be very surprised if anyone who is female, gay or half way intelligent votes for you…
*It is a terrible oversight. Really, a person as important and intelligent as me should be automatically allowed to vote in any election I fancy so that I may share my wisdom and insights with the entire world. However, current world leaders do not seem to understand this point of view, despite my repeated letters to them explaining the situation to them. Ignorant gits could have least replied…
** Though I can guess based on her writing I would not like to presume…