If you’ve paid attention at all to the presidential elections, you should be terrified. Not because of the very serious threat of voter fraud (an earth-shattering total of 2068 cases since 2000, less than .001 of a percent of the votes cast), and not because of the formidable force of Hurricane Isaac (which ended up doing more damage to post traumatic stress disorder-stricken New Orleans than the elephant-hat wearing delegates in Tampa). The real reason you should be stockpiling canned foods, watching “The Hunger Games” to learn some essential archery skills and filling your sinks and bathtubs with water is the imminent threat of an apocalypse. Both parties imagine that the country is on the brink of destruction, one pivotal Election Day away from either a socialist takeover or a return to the glory days of the Industrial Revolution. The former will straightjacket job creators, provide illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship and guarantee a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage. The latter will turn back the clock to give job creators the free reign to provide for their employees and to pollute as much or as little as they wish, devise a system to encourage illegal immigrants to self-deport, define marriage as union between a man and a woman and identify a woman’s uterus as the only part of her body that is not free to pursue all the opportunities available to her.
The GOP identifies itself at the Great Opportunity Party and argues that a government that refrains from constraining its citizens through taxes, entitlements and public programs can get the United States “back on track, expanding its bounty, renewing its faith and fulfilling its promise of a better life.” That certainly sounds appealing.… Very few voters would say no to a candidate who offers them lower taxes and an opportunity to live the American Dream. But wait a second… part of the plan to cut taxes includes an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief packages, the very same Bush tax cuts in place when our national debt started to increase exponentially.
And how does this freedom of opportunity thing work with the constraints the government would place on gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose? Sure, the GOP may not go so far as to make birth control illegal, which seemed a terrifying and almost real prospect this spring when Sandra Fluke was disparaged by Rush Limbaugh for her testimony to congressional Democrats. But it is true that the Republican platform calls for prohibiting the abortion of “pain-capable unborn children,” which would mean that any abortion of a fetus older than 20 weeks would constitute an illegal abortion—legally the killing of a child. There is no mention of an exception to this rule in cases where the mother’s life is in danger; in fact, the platform asserts that the prohibition of abortion actually affirms the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Last time I checked, your dignity isn’t upheld when the government comes in and mandates that you place your own life in danger because you’re pregnant. If having dignity means that you’re worthy of respect, it certainly seems like the government respects the life of the unviable fetus more than the life of the mother.
According to the GOP, the assault on traditional marriage, along with the rampant killing of unborn children, is the biggest obstacle to the realization of the American dream. The platform condemns “the hate campaigns, threats of violence and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage” and urges the federal government to investigate “attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights.” Though there may have been some threats made by “homosexual activists” against Bristol Palin and churches that make clear their opposition to same-sex marriage—and these acts are certainly unacceptable violations of the right to be free from harm—there is no consideration of the right of LGBT individuals to enjoy these same rights. If the institution of marriage were the foundation of civil society, then one would think that the roughly 50 percent divorce rate would have thrown American civilization into chaos. Thus far, it seems that we have evaded that apocalyptic end. Why would the legalization of gay marriage, the extension of the right to enter a legal partnership in the eyes of the government, fundamentally upset the social order? Religions could still individually refuse to recognize any marriage that is not between a man and a woman, without imposing their own limit on opportunity to the country as a whole.
Obviously, I’ve only looked at one side of the coin in this column. The identification of the GOP as the party of opportunity certainly needs to be qualified, but that doesn’t mean that the Democratic Party’s apocalyptic visions for a Romney win are justified. Even for a crazy feminist such as myself, the Democratic platform isn’t perfect, and the depiction of the Republican Party as a monster isn’t entirely justified. Stay tuned.
Joline Doedens is a first-year law student. Her column runs every other Monday. You can follow Joline on Twitter @jydoedens