Fine, if that’s what you think, you aren’t invited to my birthday party!

*I’m nervous to publish this post, knowing that any mention of politics results in angry backlash, no matter how benevolent the mentioner intended to be. For the record, I, the mentioner, intended to be extremely benevolent.

I have several problems with politics, but one of the main ones is that individuals from both parties rarely acknowledge that, in most cases, their opponents have good points. If issues were cut and dry between right and wrong, there would be no need for debate; the answer would be clear to everybody. That is not the case. Most issues fall in a gray area, with no perfect solution, and political parties are divided by what they believe to be the lesser of two evils–one party contends that the benefits of their solution outweigh the negatives, and the other party thinks the opposite. However, they always neglect to say, “Yes, I see that we’re caught in a bind here. It’s a tough situation, with no clear solution. Either way we go will have consequences. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a utopia where one choice is the perfect choice, but here’s why I think my consequences are more benign.” No, it’s more like, “I’m right and you’re an idiot,” so it often feels like we might as well have Kindergardeners running the country, and who we elect should be based on which candidate has the strongest dad.

I’m hesitant to use this as an example but, take the recent debate over contraception. It’s an issue with no ideal solution. On one hand, separation of church and state is compromised by the government interfering with how religious organizations run their businesses. Church and state aside, it’s also arguably intrusive to allow the government to make such specific demands of private corporations, and setting a precedent for that could result in a slippery slope. In my opinion, those are two fair points. On the other hand, allowing private corporations to limit coverage according to moral objection leaves a lot of room for interpretation and, as my mother says, if people can take advantage of the system, they will. Businesses think in financial terms, and if they see an opportunity to cut insurance costs, they will–even if it isn’t completely legitimate. Additionally, if you are not prepared to raise and support children, using birth control is the responsible thing to do. Discouraging birth control may result in unintended pregnancies, which may further result in a higher population of individuals dependent on government support. And I know that isn’t what Republican want.

Birth control is a widely used, widely accepted medication, and I understand the injustice of having that denied by your insurance provider. That really, well, sucks, and if I were in that situation, I would be pissed. But perhaps that’s something one needs to consider when agreeing to work for a Catholic organization, and to take into account when negotiating benefit packages. If when accepting a job I discovered that my employer’s insurance wouldn’t cover birth control, I would calculate how much that would independently cost me per year, and factor that into salary agreements. It’s similar to if an employer won’t offer dental. My friend Maureen broke her tooth last year. It wasn’t covered by Yale’s insurance plan, and she had to pay $1500. That bites–hehe–but is the right of the employer. (I can almost feel the dirty glares of people who disagree with me over my last statement. Okay, dental and birth control are not exactly the same, but it’s the best analogy I could come up with.) Side note: My boss would probably add that, although Catholic organizations might not offer contraceptives, their other benefits are out-of-this-world. A little nun humor for you.

No matter what you believe, there is NO excuse for the kind of language that’s been fired across enemy lines. Slut? Prostitute? Someone needs to flush Limbaugh. Shame on him! Not only is that horribly disrespectful and humiliating to that witness, but he makes the rest of his party look bad. He twisted the argument into: birth control covered by insurance=women wanting money for sex. That’s dumb, inaccurate even to traditionalists considering that married women are on birth control, and NOT an example of a good point in this argument. As a well-known Republican face, he should learn to represent his party more effectively, appropriately, and intelligently.

When it comes to politics, differences of opinion explode into uncivil unrest. I understand that we can’t live in a perfect world where all the answers are obvious and where donkeys and elephants skip together in green pastures beneath an American flag billowing in the breeze, but I’m pretty sure we can manage to be, if not kind, then courteous.

And if courtesy is impossible, we are just some dirt and water away from mud-wrestling, so let’s at least make these debates entertaining.

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3 thoughts on “Fine, if that’s what you think, you aren’t invited to my birthday party!

  1. This is a great post. Political arguments like this are arguments over how one views the world. And you can’t really reason with a person who is defending their world view. Try telling a climate science “non-believer” to read the IPCC’s assessments on climate change. They won’t do it – anything that challenges that believe is as good as garbage.

    • Great post Alena! Over the last decade or so I’ve found it shocking how increasingly resentful and downright hateful BOTH sides of the political divide have become. Frankly I think being quick to the draw with words like “stupid” and “idiot” is more of a sign of insecurity than anything else.

  2. This is a fantastic argument! I must say I agree with you completely. The world would be a better place if people who made the decisions could all sit round a table and say “You know what, you have a great point there, and how about if we try it like this too?” This would get so much better very quickly!
    This person saying that woman wanting birth control to be covered by medical benefits (wow, am I glad we have the NHS in the UK), I’d ask him if he has an expense account that covers things like hotels and drinks when on business. Does he get paid to get drunk? But that may be another story… (I admit I don’t have a clue who this guy is but I’m going to try and find out)

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