The wedge issues

We are approaching the election and here come the “issues”. No, not the real ones, like the economy, the wars, healthcare, etc. Instead we see the issues like abortion, gun control, gay marriage and various other social issues. These are wedge issues intended to make people forget the real problems.

Abortion is probably the most dominant. It became legal in 1973 and since then every presidential election has beenĀ all about this. In that time we have had four Republican administrations (Ford, Reagan and the two Bushes)and three of them ran as pro life candidates (Ford did not and admitted he was not opposed to abortion). Interestingly the Republican first ladies have all stated they were pro choice. Here’s the thing though, none of the Republican candidates really cared enough about the issue, just pandering to the religious right. Here’s the reality though, a president can’t overturn it, it would have to go to the Supreme Court and then it would become a state issue. In the blue states it would likely stay legal and the red it would depend. Most people support abortion rights according to various sources. In fact it is interesting to note that Reagan and Bush 1 both appointed Supreme Court Justices who upheld Roe. I consider myself prochoice though I would likely not have an abortion myself unless I was raped or my health. I also don’t think Romney is obsessed with abortion. Yet I am seeing on this religious site people only voting for Romney because “he’s prolife”. Really? then why did he say he was prochoice to run for governor? Because he’s pandering to the religious wackos who have overtaken the Republicans.

Gay marriage and gun control are both wedge issues to rile people. I don’t know the stats but I’m willing to bet most people don’t care if gays are allowed to marry. I certainly don’t, and in fact figure they can’t ruin marriage anymore than straight people. With gun control I support the rights to have guns, but also have no issue with the Brady Bill, because there are many people who shouldn’t own guns due to mental issues or violent behavior.

It all boils down to this: both parties are playing a game with people. The Republicans know if they outlaw Roe V Wade they will lose most women and will never be elected. The Democrats know if they outlaw guns they will lose the rural conservative Democrats. Ironically my representative is a prolife, NRA endorsed, union endorsed Democrat woman. How weird is that? She would never get elected in Cook County. Meanwhile we have several Republicans in office who support gun control, gay rights, and abortion. See, this is why you can’t always look at these issues, look at what they bring to the table.

12 thoughts on “The wedge issues”

  1. I think state politics gets a little more complicated when it gets to party differences on issues or policy, but at the national level, you got it nailed NWP about the wedge issues. It’s a two-headed corporate party and the wedge issues are all bullshit to distract the masses who still bother with voting and think it actually makes much difference who wins and controls DC.

    As a recent op-ed said, who wins the Worlds Series makes about as much difference in this fascist, corporate run nation-state. I commend the 50% who have wised up and given up on voting. They are probably more realistic and wise than me. But I still vote at the local and state level, not that it makes much difference at the statewide race level. Those offices still end up being filled by pols who are bought by big money, much of it from out of state. My rule of thumb is that any race that requires a few million$ is by definition going to be won by someone who’s already sold their soul to the rich and big business. No matter what they say in a campaign, their actions in office will all be about paying back their campaign donors and selling out us peons while protecting the wealth and privileges of their masters who fund the campaigns of them and their peers in DC or the statehouse. The common people be damned…

  2. Very true. Interestingly, like I mentioned in Illinois it is common to have two candidates who agree on the same issues, like abortion. In fact we had a situation awhile back where the Reoublican candidate for governor was more pro choice than the Democrat and in Illinois once you leave Cook County both parties tend to become more conservative.

    Back in 1996 I was doing some work for one of the abortion rights groups to get Clinton elected. After all “if Bob Dole gets in he will outlaw abortion”. I doubt he would have done that, but Clinton did two things (among others)that destroyed the middle class: signed NAFTA (which caused jobs to go to Mexico)and the 1996 Telecommunications Act (that destroyed many broadcasting careers, including mine). Obama signed free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia and wants to increase visa workers.

  3. Some people would call me a total cynic for saying or believing this, but it’s been obvious to me that the whole Repub push to outlaw abortion has been a bogus, exploitive tactic to use the Bible-thumper members of the party for votes and campaign volunteers while all the while the party had no intention of overturning Roe vs. Wade thru the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment. Because, as you suggest, the real agenda of the Repub Party has always really been about helping corporations and the rich increase their control and power over the economy and the government, along with promoting permanent war and the defense industries that benefit from that.

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of the religious right in wanting to reverse women’s rights and outlaw abortion, etc., but they’re just being used by the greedheads in the party. The Repubs have had the votes on the Supreme Court for a long time that would allow them to overturn Roe vs. Wade. They just haven’t wanted to use them because it would be a political disaster for them to lose the votes of a huge majority of women. Then they would have even fewer wedge issues left to use for getting people, esp. women, to vote against their own economic class interests.
    Even my sister, who attends an evangelical church, has talked with me about this and even she sees thru the whole game and agrees that the Repubs are just using people like her to advance their economic agenda while mainly accomplishing nothing of the social issue agenda they promise the Christian right members of the party.

    So when you think about it, people like her are like union members or lefty progressives like me are regarding the Dem Party, we are treated like red-headed stepchildren. Even Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former henchman and now your mayor of Chicago, had the gall to come right out and say what these party leaders (of either party) really think about people like me or my sister, “ retards…Where else do they think they have to go? ( If they don’t like it in this party>.) My present response to him and his kind is, “Screw you and your party, I’ll vote independent and third party from now on, at least for fed and statewide offices”.

  4. Exactly right. I do know the religious right do keep thinking the abortion issue will become something that will happen but it will not I seriously doubt. The religious right are dangerous and would destroy life in this country but the thing is they aren’t in control of the Republican Party. The religious right if in power would take away rights besides abortion. They would put women back in the kitchen and probably take away voting rights. Most of the Republican candidates have come from the financial branch since the religious right have taken over the party. The irony is Reagan courted these people and since then they have been a major part, but Reagan was not a member of the religious right (and in fact liberalized abortion laws in California). Since then pretty much Republican candidate has been from what would now be considered the moderate branch. The most conservative Republican has been Bush 2 but even he comes from the Bush family and they were more about the money (and both his mom and wife have stated they are prochoice). Romney is from this branch as was McCain, Dole, etc. As hard as it is to think now Goldwater, who was considered very conservative then would be a moderate or even a liberal today.

    Same thing with Democrats. Like you mentioned they have the union allies but while they pay some lip service they don’t do much else. While Clinton was courting the union leaders he was signing NAFTA. I think I mentioned this but I did a lot of work for the Democrats in the 90s and what they really think of most of us is not what they say. The fact is they couldn’t care less about those people struggling. They only care about themselves becoming richer, though in an irony some of the richest members have done a lot to help the poor (the Kennedys come to mind).

  5. Gay marriage, gun control and stuff like “don’t ask don’t tell” is merely nothing all but ambulance chasing.

    When you come right down to where the cheese binds, is it really all that bad to let 2 men or 2 ladies marry??? Most gay relationships i know of are more stable than straight marriages.

    Stop chasing ambulances and get down to brass tacks: we are in a great deal of trouble. We need jobs NOW — and remember: it is a trickle down effect:

    No jobs no consumerism and nothing that is contingent upon SPENDING…. which is everything, when you do the math.

  6. Personally I am not bothered at all by two men or two women marrying and only the most extreme are. Yet people vote on it and abortion and I don’t get it. How does it affect my life? It doesn’t but giving tax breaks to outsource jobs DOES affect my life.

  7. This was Rick Santorum’s platform: if you outlawed abortion, gay marriage, and all of the elements of moral decay that have been legalized, over time, since the 1950s, you’d transport us back to the happy and prosperous 1950s, and we’d all be happy and prosperous again.

    It’s a charming thought, but it won’t work.

    But still people believe in it, and vote for it.

  8. Not to mention Rick Santorum wants women to go back to the kitchen and he has attacked working women, especially mothers. He’s a scary dude but one who will never see a presidential run because the Republicans would never nominate him. They know someone like him would scare away all but the extreme rightwing. Incidentally he’s a Catholic like I am, but he’s part of the fundamentalist branch while I believe in the more moderate version.

  9. For a lot of couples with children, sending the wife out to work doesn’t make economic sense. They have better cash flow, but also higher expenses that often offset the extra income entirely.

    A lot of jobs in child care were created as women went out to work and people moved farther away from their children’s grandparents. The main beneficiaries of these jobs were tax collection at the local, state, and federal levels and the Chinese, as our trade imbalance grew greater. For a high school-educated couple where both work a full career, their Social Security taxes will increase 74% but their total benefits will increase only 17%. This is a function of how the program was structured, recognizing that women stayed at home with the family and did not earn much income, so the wife could collect half of the husband’s benefits at retirement even if she never paid a cent into Social Security.

  10. But now with this economy often the wife is the bigger breadwinner. While I do think if it costs more for childcare than the job pays it makes no sense to work, I also understand the freedom in working because I am reluctant to depend on a husband, Then again I have no husband now or kids so for me it’s a moot point, and in the event I have kids and work my parents have said they would watch them. Anyway, they need to change the system because when I do retire I should be making more than my friends who haven’t worked since having kids (or worked part time).

  11. If you look at the numbers for Social Security and Medicare, they aren’t sustainable programs. I expect them to be needs-tested within a decade or cut severely. Eliminating the spousal benefit and forcing people to have their benefits calculated on their earnings history, is a good place to start. Social Security presumes that you have 40 years of “covered earnings”, and if you don’t have income in a year, you get a zero for that year when they determine what your Social Security benefit will be. There is a fudge factor in the formula to calculate one’s benefits that favors lower-income workers. and it lasts up to average lifetime earnings of about $30K. The Earned Income Credit is a full or partial refund of what one would pay in Social Security taxes, so Social Security is underfunded by the amount of the EIC that is paid out.

    When one is married and eligible for Social Security, they have the choice of taking their benefits either based on their earnings history or the spousal benefit, which is half of their spouse’s benefit. If they are divorced or widowed and the marriage lasted at least 5 years, they still have the option of taking the spousal benefit.

    People don’t do a good job of figuring out the true cost of something. We can probably agree that it makes no sense at all for someone who is married, whose husband works, and can earn only $200 a week after taxes and pays $150 a week for child care probably should stay home with the kids, if only because there are other costs, such as transportation, that would not be incurred if someone stayed at home with the kids.

    If you look at women who hold reasonably well-paying jobs, many if most of them are childless. I was listening to something on NPR the other day where they were talking about how so-called “elite careers” require a stay-at-home spouse. I’m inclined to agree with this, because there is a huge amount of things that need to be done to run a household well.

  12. I have seen that as well and am seeing a lot of career women not having kids or having them later in life. I no longer aspire to be a CEO but do aspire to a management job again. Only time will tell what will happen but I do think it’s hard to be a CEO (male or female)and have kids. I think though one can do both if they have a great spouse. In the past I generally sought out lesser skilled men who were open to being stay at home dads because I was so career focused and yes there are men like this out there.

    I actually don’t think social security will be around when I retire in 20-30 years. Once I start working a fulltime job again I am going to start saving again. I had to use most of my 401k to survive this recession and want to replenish once I work again. I suspect I will work longer than my parents (and they are increasing ss to 67 or later)and will have less of it.

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