Friday, July 9, 2010

Politics: Argblargblargblarg

I shall be posting a housekeeping update, about the blog, not my actual home which is unkept, tomorrow, in order to keep this post almost purely on topic. And that topic is, politics! I am going to hit two main subtopics; the first is why Washington DC may be obsolete and the second on gender identities in politics, since this is Feminist July after all.

The idea that Washington DC may be obsolete occurred to me as I wrote my July 4th post about how awesome and worth improving our nation is. Specifically, I suggested that we try distributing the government, empowering states and even more local governmental entities and disinvesting in a centralized government. I favor this approach on the reasoning that putting the power closer to the people will serve to increase the power of the people, and other reasons which I shall not get into here. However, a big problem this approach might cause would be to disadvantage citizens of Washington DC, as do most programs enacted on the state level.

The simplest solution would be to either, make Washington DC a state, or to incorporate it into an existing state. I believe that the reason it is not part of a state already is so that there isn't the semblance of favoritism toward one state from our federal government. After all, most of the upper levels of our government are concentrated in DC, and if the city happened to be part of Virginia, it might seem suspicious if Virginia received extra beautification money or homeland security money. As a side note, it doesn't seem that being the home to the government has done DC much good as a city.

One might argue that, after decentralizing our government, it will be less contentious if the seat of national government happens to lie within one state or another. While this may be valid, I believe it is worthwhile to consider what role we need Washington DC to play in our modern society. While it used to be necessary for people to physically be in the same place in order for them to effectively collaborate, this is no longer the case. I think that, in addition to putting lawmakers closer to their constituents, dispersing our lawmakers would have the advantage of making life harder on special interest groups, who would no longer be able to go to one place and tug the ear of all the political elite. As many environmentalists will tell you, if you put a lot of rotting material ,compost, in one place, it will, A) stink, and B) attract a lot of flies. The advantages of scattering our government to the wind, even if we retain a strong national government, might deserve a fuller post later, but to keep things concise I shall end here.

Now, gender identity and politics. What specifically inspired this thought was the sentiment, which I have heard multiple times throughout my life, that there are issues where, in order to be a feminist, one must have a particular stance. I think this is an unhealthy mentality, it seems to encourage "Us or Them" thinking, also worth a separate post, and alienate people who, otherwise, might become helpful allies. Now I do believe that feminists, by nature, must attempt to create a system wherein individuals are not disadvantaged by the role that they play in the reproductive process, But, while abortion is an attempt to address this problem, I do not believe it is the only possible solution.

You may not know this, but I am strongly anti-abortion. While I do believe they should be legal, and should be the woman's choice, I do not believe them to be a good choice. In my opinion, they are a choice you should have, but should be avoided. Sometimes they are the best of a bunch of bad choices, which is regrettable, but in general, I am not a fan of abortions. But, there are people who are even more anti-abortion than I am, for instance, if they believe that their religion strictly forbids not only abortions, but permitting other people to have abortions. While I am also not a fan of that religious view, I do not believe someone should be excluded from the feminist identity automatically for holding such a view.

The problem examined in detail above, can be generalized to many issues, where feminists, or more often women, are told that they should, whatever that means, hold a certain view in order to be true to their identity. This reasoning seems inherently anti-feminist, rather than treating the recipient of the argument as a competent agent and explaining the reasons why said decision is desirable, they are condescended to and told what to think in order to stay a part of their group, without being given the resources and respect to make their own decision. Note that above, although I said such an argument seemed impossible for a feminist to make in good faith, I gave a reason for this claim, and make no presumption to revoke the feminist status, as if I have that authority, of one who would make such an argument.

So, I believe that it is entirely in keeping with a feminist mindset to support legal abortion. It is an attempt to address the problem of reproductive equality, it is the most successful solution that is reasonable to expect the government to enact in the near future, and this is why I support it. But it is not the only such solution, nor is it the one I think is best ideally, so if someone does not support abortion, I do not think we should play identity politics and revoke their feminist membership (yes, there is a membership, NOT!). In closing, I find identity politics of most sorts dehumanizing, and therefore bad. While it is wonderful that people with shared traits often share certain priorities, and can use their shared traits to organize to promote their priorities, a line is crossed when one makes sharing the priorities a prerequisite to "truly" share the trait. I think this issue comes up in the context of religion, sexual preference, and ethnic background, as well as in other places, but examining it in gender politics as an example seemed appropriate, since it is Femminist July!

No comments: