Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Third Debate --- Abortion

Bush said he wouldn't apply a litmus test for Supreme Court justices. I don't believe him. His father said he wouldn't apply a litmus test. Turned out he wasn't lying. 41 did not apply a litmus test, and wound up nominating Souter. Not quite what Rush Limbaugh had in mind. For a President not to apply a litmus test in making a political appointment is absurd, and W- is a lot of things, but absurd is not one of them.

Abortion, gay rights, prayer in public schools, contraception, stem cells, cloning, euthenasia, the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage, separation of church and state, and why (in my opinion) the church benefits from that more than the state does. In this talky internet world, we lack the vocabulary to discuss these issues. We need new words to discuss these new issues. When we use old words, we drag in old baggage, and wind up engaging in old arguments that are besides the point.

Because of the limited vocabulary we have, all issues about a woman's right to choose wind up being entwined with whether or not God made the sexes equal, and whether or not the state can alter that result. Because of the limited vocabulary we have, all issues about gay rights wind up being a sewer of code words about our views on sexual deviance, and our notions about what is and is not appropriate behavior to display in front of a child. We can't separate out these issues, even if we wanted to, we don't have the proper vocabulary to communicate honestly (as opposed to a politician asking for your vote). We are not used to talking about these matters to people who might have other opinions, and it shows.

I keep looking for people like Rick Santorum (I wish I could think of anyone from my side of the aisle) to find the vocabulary to bridge the gap, to frame the argument in a way where we can all agree on what we agree on, and make intelligent choices about what we disagree on, but Santorum keeps sliding down the slope. When W- speaks about a "culture of life," he is clearly rallying his base, but he is telling the people outside his base, "silent, barefoot, pregnant, dependant." I know he doesn't believe that, but he is certainly saying it. If you trust W- you make allowances, and if you don't, you can't.

Great spiritual leaders are needed in this country, people who can make modern responses to modern science, people who can show from a spiritual, religious, moral basis, how free God wants us to be. Those people may be able to bring the discussion along. I don't know. It is not for politicians to be spiritual leaders. It is for politicians to make sure that the traffic lights work, and that the terrorists don't. In this society, our spiritual leaders are politicians and talk show hosts. It's depraved.