Social Contract

I am so disappointed in the way the Supreme Court case over Affordable Health Care Act is playing out. There is nothing good coming out of this discussion.

As is my habit when national events are irritating me I try to pull back and do something local so I can pretend I have impact as a citizen. Today I went to a policy lecture on Sex Ed in public schools. This semester my daughter is subjected to Health at school. This is an annual “mandatory” and progressive 6-week curriculum that they start in 5th grade with the news that you body is about to change in disturbing ways.

Nothing they have discussed in health comes close to what we talk about at home. And I would bet that the text they use is much less explicit than “Our Bodies, Our Selves” or even the cartoon-ish “Care of Me” books from American Girl (that is a Cult for a different post). What I was hoping to hear from the policy wonk today was why sex ed is so polarizing. And I did.

Seems I have been misreading all the political polarization lately. Contraception, abortion, health care, sex ed, its all about he same thing. Identity. Who are we as country, what is our morality. I chewed on this for a while, as he presented arguments and research, and thought well this is true for the religious right and conservatives in general, but liberals and progressives are not about morality. But I’m not so convinced anymore.

When you look at it from the point of identity liberals (using the label for a widely variable swath of US population) and conservatives (ditto), want the same thing – to define who we are as a country.

We are a country that takes care of its citizens is the core idea that supports health care, welfare benefits, re-training, disability, immigration policy, Pell grants, you name it. Its all about defining ourselves as doing the right thing collectively.

We are a country that protects the morality of its citizens is the core idea that supports the authority of God, prohibiting the “homosexual agenda”, protecting the unborn, dismantling social programs so people will stand on their own two feet. Its all about defining ourselves as doing the right thing individually.

That is why it fails to make sense to me why anyone would want to restrict contraception, which helps prevent babies, AND eliminate abortion because it supposedly kills babies. The position is perfectly in line with protecting morality of citizens who are obviously too stupid to do it themselves. But my world view does not work that way, so the position does not appear to have any internal logic.

In my world abortion is a medical procedure that is part of a woman’s reproductive health just like contraception, pap smears and mammograms. My morality is as tightly wound into my position as any protester outside a clinic with a nasty sign. I just don’t bring any God into it.

So I ended up thinking about national politics today anyway. I can feel the meta idea of moral identity (especially the liberal duo Equity & Care) burrowing into my brain in a new way.

To the library!