Thursday, November 04, 2004

Philosophy, Politics, and Election Analysis

By: Michael Akerman

I've been thinking about how much having someone to listen to your problems heals the pain. This latest contemplation, for the record, was evoked by Scrubs. Dr. Cox (a very good rendition of the archetypal hard-shelled man with a heart of gold) was working with someone who had lost her son, and, having no one to listen to her pain, dealt with it through denial. When Dr. Cox finally listened to her, she, of course, broke down sobbing, but she was happier afterward for it.

I think listening is one of the best ways to heal. Perhaps, it's the best. And I don't mean active listening. That's a hollow and false psychological trick. I merely mean truly listening, for when someone listens truly, you need no cues to know you were heard.

It's hard to know where the divine stops and the mundane begins. We tend to forget how truly miraculous something is when it happens commonly. Sometimes, we are even irritated by it.

The obvious thing to consider as part of this is love, but I don't think that's an accurate assessment. No, people retain an awareness of the divinity of love, due to its rarity. That doesn't change the fact that I did think of love first, and that led me to a very rapid set of conclusions.

Men and women are different (obviously). Furthermore, men and women are different enough that we love each other for it. As much as we all lament the inexorable chasm between man and woman, society, nay, life itself would lose much of its balance without it. Considering there is a paucity of reasons it should be an evolutionary adaptation, yet it clearly is, I think this is one of those oft-overlooked miracles.

As a side note to these conclusions, I further theorize that this is yet another reason homosexuality is amoral: the homosexual relationship waylays this divine spark, forgoing a gift intended for everyone.

Furthermore, this reminds me of an earlier conclusion I made. People often decry the old statement that a woman should prostrate herself before her husband as cruel. I disagree. I believe that statement is accurate, but has grown misunderstood over time. You see, the wife should serve the husband. Contra-positively, the husband should serve the wife.

A marriage is a relationship between two mutual servants, both of whom should aim to please the other as much as possible. I think the man was never included in the statement because it's implied. We serve the woman we love naturally, because we really want sex, so the man must keep the woman happy.

Additionally, I think the feminist movement may be the event that seriously damaged marriage, leading to rising divorce rates. Now, the husband is expected to please his wife, with no socially expected reciprocal. Not only do husbands miss the joy of marriage, but the marriage's spark quickly evaporates for the wife as well, who is remiss the joy of causing joy.

Concerning Abortion:

Abortion is wrong. However, it is not a black-and-white issue. I promised I would speak both ethically and morally about abortion, so, ethics first.

Abortion, in most cases, is merely the means of avoiding the consequences of a willful act. This, effectively, means, abortions being legal in all cases, a woman (and her lover) can remediate all consequences of her own actions with a very simple procedure. This is very wrong. One should not be able merely remove the consequences of willful acts entirely. In layman's terms, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Even STDs, most of which are now curable, cause consequences before they are cured. Curing takes time, and most STDs, by the time one would seek treatment, are quite uncomfortable, if not outright painful.

My one exception to this is rape. Abortion should be legal in the case of rape, as otherwise the woman is being punished for another's actions.

Though pure reason tends to convince me more than religion, I'll never convince most people based on reason. So, now, morally.

Life is sacred. That much is clear. Additionally, life signs are evident even in the first trimester. Thus, abortion is wrong. However, the fetus in the first trimester is just barely living. As such, its life is not yet something that absolutely must be preserved. Rather, it becomes another factor in determining what is right, much as one considers how it will affect the children before getting a divorce (I know, Ed. It's a sin in the eyes of the Church).

Consider: if the child of consensual sex (I know, Ed. It's a sin in the eyes of the Church) comes to term, it is obviously where it is supposed to be, regardless of quality of life, as it was born from a relatively minor sin, and born from extremely limited chance. The child is where God intended it to be.

However, a child of rape is born of a most heinous sin. Personally, I don't think God uses wretched sins to create good. No, the child is Satan's child, so to speak, although God has the power to co-opt the child and save it. Furthermore, the child will likely live with the stigmas not only of being an unwanted child but of being a reminder to the mother of the rape and being blood-related to a heinous sinner. I think the chances are, if the mother isn't willing to have and raise the child, he is likely to have a better existence in Heaven (and I suppose God could always reincarnate him as a wanted child).

So why doesn't God just cause these children to be stillborn? Some of these children are welcomed by their mother, and that changes everything. A loving mother can save the child through baptism and worship, and raise it to live a fulfilled life.

You know, I always feel like I'm making stuff up for religious arguments. I suppose I am. Not that I don't believe in God, just that I'm a wretched Biblical scholar (I don't believe being able to quote scripture makes you a better Christian), and the Bible is an old and probably mistranslated record of God's opinion, filtered through human writers. I suppose sometimes you just go with what feels the most righteous.

Shall we analyze the recent election, then?

The question on most Democrats' lips is, "Why did Kerry lose?" Well, in large part it's because the Democrats rely on the youth vote, and, while they certainly tried harder than ever, they still only got less than a quarter turnout.

It looks like the Dems. need a new strategy.

Fact is, a party cannot rely on the youth vote. It is unpredictable and, almost always, less magnitudinous than the rest of the vote. So, they must reach for an older vote. The problem at this point with this strategy: they don't support the same stance on social and moral issues as most of America.

I was talking with Smith about this yesterday, and Smith readily admitted that the Democrats have lost the battle over society. This is not the 60s anymore. The Democrats simply cannot stand as far left and hope to maintain electoral votes. They made ingrounds to some degree with Kerry, who, while he is considered, largely, more liberal than Mondale, took a position that stood more to the right on the traditionally non-valence issues: gay marriage and abortion. This certainly gained a good chunk of votes for him. It's not far enough to win, but it's close.

So close, in fact, that I found myself wondering why no state was close enough to demand a recount (Ohio was close, but even Kerry felt he had little chance of closing the gap. Kerry's a smart man, and he does understand statistics). I think it boils down to this:

The largest complaint from Democrats about Bush is that he is an imbecile. Obviously, the data stacks against this charge: he's a graduate of Yale and Harvard and was a pilot in the Air Force. Regardless of how he got into Yale and Harvard, fact is that he didn't fail utterly.

Granted, he is probably of a lesser intellectual ability than most of the readership of this blog. However, the fatal misassumption for the Democrats was assuming people cared how smart their President is. Intelligence, at least to an extreme degree, is really not important to a President. He must be able to make decisions based on evidence, obviously, but a middle schooler can do this, by and large. What's more important to the American people is to be able to stand behind your stance. The ability to change your stance on an issue is admirable, yes, but only when there's strong evidence showing you should. A President cannot pander. He cannot support the war for a pro-war crowd, but complain about it to the anti-war crowd. Kerry was notoriously bad at this, and I think it was the death of him. I'm inclined to believe Dean, or perhaps Clark, would have fared better.

Too bad Dean killed himself in the primaries with the "Dean scream." At least he'll live forever as an overplayed sound bite (I've seen it used lots of places already. Heck, one Halo CE map uses it for the energy sword lunge).

Until next time, when I'll post the AIM conversations about Smith's prediction from his immediately pre-election post (about the expanding power of the Presidency). I'd post them now, but one of the conversations (the most important one) is living on another computer at the moment.

By my hand,
~Michael Akerman