Not All Political Parties are Created Equal

June 24, 2022 § Leave a comment

Roe v. Wade was overturned today by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). A lot is being made of this decision, and rightly so. It is asinine that a group of conservative justices who constantly torture the Constitution for their decisions, in much the same way that Chief Justice Taney did in 1857 with Dred Scot, would do so again to overturn Roe. This is the damage that Donald Trump continues to do to the United States. Yes, clearly, I am pro-choice. I am pro-choice because I believe it is a woman’s right to choose. I have taken friends for abortions, and even in Canada, we had to run the gauntlet of people who had nothing but hatred in their hearts calling my friends ‘baby killers,’ ‘sluts,’ ‘whores,’ and much, much worse. But I am also an historian, and I know what the cost of a lack of access was in the United States prior to 1973 (Roe) and in Canada prior to 1987 (Morgentaler). And mark my words, women and girls are going to die in the United States due to the flat out moronity of this court.

But. I have something else on my mind today. I was thinking of a conversation I had with a guy at a bar prior to Covid, in 2018 or so, in left-of-centre Western Massachusetts. He was pontificating, he was of a certain age (I am also of a certain age, but I suppose I don’t look it). He was lecturing me on politics in this country. He told me, proudly, that he doesn’t vote because the Democrats and the Republicans are the same. I was gobsmacked. And I pushed back.

Today, I am thinking about that conversation and all the times I have been told that Democrats and Republicans (or in Canada, the Liberals and Conservatives) are the same. Yeah, sure, in many ways they are, all four political parties in both countries are deeply invested in a neo-liberal capitalist order (well, the GOP might not be anymore). But beyond that? Not so much. In the US, there is a wide gulf between the two political parties.

But then I got to thinking who it always is telling me the Democrats and Republicans are the same: white men. Always white men. In fact, it is usually white men who feel like they’ve got the most to lose with the culture wars in the United States. They seem to think that extending basic human rights to African Americans, Asian Americans, the indigenous, women, immigrants, the disabled, LGBTQIA+, and other groups who are discriminated against means that they will lose rights. In actual reality, gender equality does nothing to diminish my rights, though it might look like it will put a dent in my male white privilege. Maybe. But in actual reality, it won’t.

I often think of Isotta Nogarola, a Renaissance woman in 15th century Italy. She is credited as being the first major woman humanist, and she was brilliant. Her ideas and writings were received with nothing but misogyny and hatred. She ultimately retired to her villa, where she carried on her experiments and writing, but published nothing more during her lifetime. When I taught Western Civ or World History, I always made sure to include Nogarola, because I always found myself wondering just how many Nogarolas there have been in the world, the entire world: brilliant women who were never given a chance?

Then imagine a world where Nogarola was able to publish, attain fame, and immortality like all those male Renaissance thinkers. Imagine a world where anyone, regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation was equal.

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Liberal. But I can see the difference between a conservative movement in the US or Canada that seeks to strip rights, protections, and privileges from anyone who is not a white man (or, increasingly, a white conservative man).

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