[FoRK] A Thrive/Survive Theory Of The Political Spectrum

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Sun Feb 22 11:58:43 PST 2015

> On Feb 22, 2015, at 7:47 AM, Russell Turpin <russell.turpin at gmail.com> wrote:
> Here in Texas, that description rings quite true. The Republicans here
> not only trumpet their social conservatism, but implement it. State
> laws have shut down abortion clinics except for a few in large cities,
> making abortion unavailable for a large portion of the state's young
> women. The last Democratic sacrificial victim in the gubernatorial
> election came to fame for opposing that.

Of course that description of Republicans generalizes reasonably well when you are in the South. Unfortunately, it applies to many Democrats in the South as well. Democrats in the South broadly are not similar to Democrats in Austin. 

The 30% of all Democrats who are “pro-life” live somewhere. Similarly, the 30% of Republicans who are “pro-choice” live somewhere. They are not uniformly distributed over the US, it is a regional thing.

Frankly, in large parts of the US, the average person does not care that much about abortion even if they have an opinion, either Democrat or Republican. It is a point of obsession for a minority. Most people recognize it as a legally and morally murky area without an answer that is both  good and consistently applicable, much like intellectual property and marriage law. 

> Obviously, yes, there are regional differences. But how does one label
> "caricature" what is real in large regions of the nation?

There are at least 5-6 major cultural regions to the US. The South is only one of them. Everywhere else, it is a caricature.

Talking about “Democrats” and “Republicans” is not that useful. Over time, affiliation with those parties is becoming the domain of  political reactionaries and ideologues. This is borne out by statistical trends; those two political parties are becoming nutter distilleries, and Americans increasingly recognize that fact hence the broad movement toward de-affiliation.

> This is a real loss of crucial personal liberty. Next to gay rights
> and gay marriage, the largest personal liberty issue in our nation, of
> our time. It is spearheaded by one political party. Yet... we're not
> supposed to see that as a salient characteristic of that party?

Seriously? This is the “largest personal liberty issue in our nation"? 

For the vast majority of typical Americans, the “war on drugs”, “war on terror”, the surveillance state, etc have far more bearing on their personal liberty than either abortion or gay marriage. Abortion and gay marriage, while important to some people, are nonetheless fringe issues. These are not that different than, say, onerous non-competes allowed in some parts of the US that have seriously adverse consequences for employment mobility, in some cases rendering people nigh unemployable if they leave a job. It is an anathema to personal liberty but it also does not have broad reach.

Stupid restrictions on personal liberty are all around us. Most of it is local and fringe. There are genuinely national matters of personal liberty that are much lower hanging fruit and much less ambiguous. We really do not need the Federal government legislating your or my particular view of the world; guaranteed, that is not the view that would actually be legislated.

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