The Enigma of Small Government
During the course of this election cycle, we’ve heard a lot about smaller government and deregulating the private sector. In recent weeks, we’ve heard even more about abortion in cases of rape (or incest). While I have my views on abortion, and I know it’s a hot topic that many people have very personal responses to, I don’t think that’s the issue in these discussions. To me, the fundamental question is: What is the role of government in people’s lives?
As I see it, government should act as a resource for its citizens. We pay taxes, so services should be available to us; schools, roads, representation, relief for natural disasters or unemployment, and health care. And in all these cases, the private sector also exists and is able to provide similar services. The choice is ours which service we choose to use.
The GOP has long been touted as the party of “small government.” They don’t want government to regulate Wall Street or big banks. They don’t want government to spend money on education or health care. In the GOP mindset, these things are personal or state responsibilities in which the federal government should not have a role. And in a truly free America, business owners and banks shouldn’t have to provide health coverage or be required to report to an oversight committee. And for the most part, the GOP and its extreme wing–the Tea Party, as it were–stand strong on these issues. They take pledges not to raise taxes or increase the debt ceiling, no matter the consequences. There is something to be said for conviction, to be sure.
Yet one issue seems outside the realm of “small government,” and instead falls under the umbrella of “morality,” and that issue is abortion. Tea Party candidates and politicians at all levels of government are pushing for bills that limit access to abortion clinics or birth control, call for medically unnecessary procedures aimed at discouraging women from obtaining abortions, and de-fund women’s clinics that offer abortions like Planned Parenthood. The GOP (I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan) has even gone so far as to try to redefine rape–RAPE–as “legitimate” or “illegitimate” when it comes to being able to end a resulting pregnancy. Many GOP politicians, and in fact the national party position as developed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (aka Governor Invasive and Unnecessary Ultrasound), do not believe that any pregnancy should be terminated–including those resulting from rape or incest. And their position is that the “method of conception” does not alter the value of a life. True, life is life. And does a woman’s life not mean as much as a fetus, or even an unborn child?
So often this issue is clouded in semantics, but for my part, I do consider a fetus to be a life. I don’t think abortion is a good thing, and I don’t know anyone who does. My position in all of this is not to defend abortion, and especially not as a form of birth control. My position is that it is NOT the job of the government to make that decision for me. Especially as many politicians are men–and I’m not suggesting men can’t have an opinion. My point is that they’ll never fully grasp the significance of pregnancy–it doesn’t make sense to have them legislating on how I ought to live my life. I know there are women who raise children who were the result of sexual assault, and I admire them. And I’ve read about women who have abortions and regret them. I imagine that any woman who asks herself if she wants to end a pregnancy finds it a very difficult decision, and I don’t know that she would ever be 100% okay with her decision. But if she doesn’t really know what to do, why does it fall to the government to tell her what she should do? I mean, does anyone really think the government functions so well that it should take over making decisions for people? I don’t think there is a more extreme position than the government trying to regulate my morality, yet they call Obama the socialist.
A woman’s decision to have or not have a child is between her, her doctor, and if one exists, her partner or husband. In the cases of rape, I find it very insulting to victims of sexual assault to suggest that no matter the “method of conception,” a woman is morally obligated to carry a pregnancy to term. Especially since there may not be a father figure or husband present, and she will have to raise a child alone. I realize there are options for unwanted pregnancies that are not abortion. Adoption is one of them. But honestly, if I had to choose between ending a pregnancy and putting my child through the foster care/ward of the state system, I don’t know that the second option is any better. Afterall, what kind of life would such a child have?
And here we come to the crux of the matter. Government is too big if it’s involved in banks or in business. It’s not too big when it’s involving women’s bodies (let’s not pretend that pregnancy affects both sexes equally–and we aren’t talking about ending pregnancy within a marriage or in a relationship; this is about ending pregnancy from a rape). The GOP considers itself to be “pro-life,” but seems only concerned with the first nine months of life, and not the rest of it. Once that baby is born, the Republican party doesn’t want to help that child along, especially if it has a single mother. The GOP doesn’t want to pay for education or health care, or social security for seniors. So how are they the “pro-life” party? Life should not stop once the umbilical cord is cut. If the GOP were really interested in upholding the morals they claim to value, they would support everything that improves quality of life.
Here’s an interesting article on the “Republican Small Government Fraud,” from a different perspective.
Twitter: @mariamsmusings or @talkrealdebate