01 November 2006

Wedgie Issues

Lots of Christian Right senanigans are overlooked by Republican voters when they don't go anywhere. But, just as Republicans turned against Creationists on the Kansas School Board once they got in control, they will turn against the anti-sex factions deceptively known as pro-life in the GOP once the implications of their agenda gets out.

For example, they are pushing hard to continue funding for a federal program to discourage unmarried adults from having sex -- not just preventing them from getting pregnant or getting STDs mind you, but from having sex. Many in the pro-life movement apparently think every sperm is sacred. They are against oral contraceptives. They are against emergency contraception, even for rape victims who report to emergency rooms. They would like to undermine faith in condoms, a position that caused them to oppose a vaccine that can prevent HPV, a leading sexually transmitted disease which is less effectively prevented by condoms than many other STDs. This may play in the Vatican. It has no place in modern American life. Twenty-nine years olds are not expected to be chaste in our culture.

Creationism and opposition to contraception are wedgie issues for Republicans. They divide their party and undermine themselves by pushing them. And, these aren't the only GOP wedgie issues.

Immigration is another issue that deeply divides Republicans between the deport 'em all Tancredo wing, and the cheap labor business leaders, while it unifies Democrats who generally support a middle road of some form of earned citizenship for long term undocumented immigrants, more legal immigration in high demand fields, tougher employer sanctions, and more consistent deportation of immigrants who have committed felonies. Yet, Republicans are pushing the immigration issue hard this election cycle.

So is stem cell research. The "pro-life" wing of the Republican party thinks that stem cell research needs to be prohibited and carefully regulated. Most other Americans, including economicly oriented Republicans, independents and Democrats, favor giving doctors a freer hand to find cures to diseases and don't see epic moral differences between the status quo of incinerating human embryos created to help couples have test tube babies, and using those same human embryos for life saving medical research. Michael J. Fox's TV spot on that issue is probably the most effective in terms of proven impact on voter preferences this election cycle.

So is the minimum wage. Democrats, moderates and many rank and file Republicans overwhelmingly favor raising the minimum wage, which is at an all time low in relative terms. But, economically oriented Republicans are die hard in their insistance that keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour,despite inflation's impact year after year, is necessary to prevent unemployment, despite less than compelling evidence that this really happens to any great degree.

So is opposition to importing prescription drugs from Canada. The argument that Canadian drugs are not as safe as American drugs, even though they are often exactly the same drug made in exactly the same factory, doesn't impress anyone but die hard pharmacutical industry protectionists, yet it is an stance the some in the GOP cling to while others have recognized that it is a lost cause. In the same vein, few outside the big busines wing of the GOP see any plausible reason for prohibiting Medicare from negotiating for cheaper prices on the drugs it buys for its beneficiaries.

Iraq has become a wedgie issue too. Democrats and independents want a national strategy that involves drawing down our forces in good order and eventually leaving Iraq, under the leadership of someone other than Secretary of Defense Rumsfield. President Bush wants to stay in Iraq indefinitely and is making no visible plans to withdraw or acknowledge that what we are doing now isn't working. Republicans are divided between the emerging national consensus and loyalty to President Bush.

Republicans devoted a lot of time and energy to developing a conservative intelligensia outside of academia, in which much of the conservative agenda is, often rightfully, viewed as fringe scholarship. On the whole this was good for their party and has changed American views on a variety of issues. But, they have become blinded by their own ideology, and lost touch with the American public in the process.


Anonymous said...

Is "wedgie" synonymous with "wedge," or am I missing some irony here?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I'm using wedgie, jokingly, in the sense of issues you divide your own party with. A traditional wedge issue is one you use to divide the other guy's party.