Thursday, November 04, 2004

[politics] In defense of 'loser' issues

This is something I posted earlier today on dKos (yeah, that's the site I'd referred to earlier as 'liberal-ish'. I stand by that characterization.) It started off as a passionate comment, an impassioned response to a diary entry I vehemently disagreed with. By the time I was ready to hit 'Post', I realized that it was a full-fleged diary on it's own. It's a very personal response to the shrieks of fury emanating from the bloody center of the current anti-Bush coalition (no, I didn't forget Poland) - those who would abandon core constituents and loyal supporters in the name of political expediency. If the future of American politics is going to be about nothing more than God, guns, and gays, so be it. You see, there are a lot of things we need to reclaim on our way to reclaiming this country from the theocrats and plutocrats. We need to reclaim the language of abortion, of queerness, of labor. We need to embrace the past of the Progressive movements while trying to be aware of our historic blind spots. With that in mind, I wrote the following:
I volunteered as a patient escort in 5 states (DC/MD/VA, MO/IL) over almost 10 years, and I've talked to a lot of patients and their partners and companions. Here's why we shouldn't back away from this fight: I've talked to many women who didn't realize that they were even pregnant until they were well into their first trimester and by the time they were able to schedule an abortion they were starting their second trimester. I've talked to women who were in denial, or too strung out, or too depressed to begin with to even deal with the fact that they were pregnant. By the time they came to, they were further along than they realized. I've talked to women who couldn't afford an abortion (or the plane/bus tickets to get somewhere they can legally get an abortion) and by the time they got the money, they found out that they were actually into their 2nd trimester during the exam at the clinic. I've talked to the families of women who travelled across 3 or 4 states to get a late-term abortion because the woman was carrying a dead fetus and their state wouldn't allow them to get an abortion because it hadn't turned septic yet and there was no imminent threat to the life of the mother. I've talked to women who didn't find out that they were carrying an unviable fetus or a fetus that wouldn't survive longer than a couple of days until late in their pregnancy. I've talked to women who had been told that their pregnancy was probably (but not definitely) life-threatening, who would have had to wait until even further along into the pregnancy before an abortion would have been approved in their home state. I've talked to the sisters and aunts and grandmothers of pregnant women whose parents or partners tried to force them to have the baby, and they couldn't find a sympathetic ear until late in their first trimester/early into their second. Here's why abortion is a 'loser': I've talked to a lot of women who thought abortion was murder but that their circumstances made it okay - it was those other sluts and tramps who were going to Hell. I've talked to more women and their companions/family members/partners than I care to think about who said words to the effect of "I never knew anyone who had an abortion" followed quickly by "I never though it could happen to me/us". I've had to listen to hours of blind vitriol from the other side: racism, sexism, homophobia, you name it. I've had to endure the near-orgasmic verbalizations of fantasies about bringing back the Inquisition or hastening the End Times. We've lost these people; I'm okay with that. We haven't lost the others yet, the 'it can't happen to me' people, the 'sluts and whores get what they deserve' people, the 'this isn't important because it doesn't affect me directly' people. I understand why the "we need to back off 'loser' issues" crowd is saying what they are, but the reality of life is a lot messier than most people will ever admit. And if we keep backing away from these 'loser' issues, where do we stop? When the Jim Crow laws are reinstated? When it becomes illegal to unionize? When gays, intellectuals, and other 'undersireables' are deemed to be threats to the state? That's too high a price for me to pay.
You see, most people are blind to the way so many of these issues tie together unless they impact upon them directly. These 'loser' issues are interrelated, and we've lost our political souls if we walk away from them in order to gain seats in Congress or the White House. Once we do that, we've lost in our winning.


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