Saturday, February 25, 2012

Observations from the Coffee Shop 2.24

"What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican party?  I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act.

What did conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator. Because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."

That was written by Lawrence O'Donnell for an episode of The West Wing in 2005. Notice he is saying liberal and conservative and not Democrat and Republican. Politics today has become so polarized that anybody reading that now will unconsciously substitute the political parties for the political theories. That's totally understandable if you have seen any of the recent GOP debates where birth control seemed more important than the economy. Now consider this quote from a speech Rick Santorum gave at about the same time as O'Donnell wrote that script.

"All the rights in the Constitution, which are individually based rights, according to our founders were not there for the individual’s gain, but the reason we established those rights was for the common good. The right to privacy is not the right to a common good. It’s a me-centered right, that obviously started in the sexual revolution with contraception and obviously quickly evolved to abortion, and now has found its way into the marriage debate. And all those acts that were self-giving acts, self-sacrificing acts, have been polluted by this right to privacy."

Scary to read after a week in which equal rights were vetoed in one state and the legality of contraceptives were debated as if it were actually an issue. Now being queer I don't have much use for birth control but I have to wonder if there are any 20 or 30 year old women out there who in their worst nightmares thought their ability to buy birth control pills would ever be in doubt.

In 1928 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis argued that the writers of the Constitution had created a framework for what he considered the greatest right of all, "the right to be left alone."

Every day it seems more like that is the right the second American revolution will be fought over.

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