Fast Food Politics, American style

Of absurdities that characterize the American political landscape, one stands out the most. It is omnipresent in partisan debates, and it gains more fervor during tough times. Interestingly, our very efficient political system has inserted this “hot button” issue into ready-to-go packages, fast-food, and drive-through style: If you are pro life, you vote for the conservative candidate who supports the right to bear arms, promises tax cuts, and wows to get into war for any reason at all. If you are pro choice, you opt for the liberal on the menu, who happens to be all for gun control measures, and advocates world peace.

If you ever have the time, get out of the drive through, park your car, actually sit at a table and review your choices more carefully before you order and vote. After a minute or two, you will be shocked: the ingredients of these packages are so at odds with each other, they are hard to swallow: The package appearing to be for life is the one maintaining the right to take the same life away with a gun. The pro life dude who thinks is a good idea to indulge our society with unwanted children is the same character who does not want to pay more taxes to care for the vulnerable among us.

And the other package is not a prize either. Wouldn’t you think that the pro choice lobbyists should be those ones fighting for the right to bear arms? After all, they are the same people who so cherish their right to be in charge of their own body, even if it means depriving the weakest form of life from thriving. Why should they not kill everybody else who threatens them and their choices? It is not like the choice of using contraceptives is taken away from them… Why not go to war? Does this contradiction mean that pro choice people only fight adversaries that are too weak to fight them back? What are we missing here?

When you seriously think about it, responsibility is the missing ingredient. Each package should contain measures holding up the voters to face the consequences of their choices. If you are pro life, you are responsible for providing love and support, even financial support, for the unwanted children that will be borne. If you are pro choice, you are to be held responsible for your actions as well. True, you can make a mistake, accidents happen, you were ignorant, illiterate, etc… and you couldn’t know any better. You got pregnant, but do not want to be a parent. You will have the legal right to get an abortion only ONE TIME. After that, the government would provide you with means necessary to act responsibly. Training courses, tools, medications, and whatever else it takes to prevent you from ever resorting to an abortion. You ignore your responsibilities, and you will be faced with punishment. The cost of these measures to our society will be far less than the damage brought upon us by devaluation of life; you can trust me on that. Wars, especially senseless ones, occur when life loses its value.

The same education should be obligatory for single mothers who have more than one child and are on government’s hand-out list. In case you are not aware of this phenomenon, there is an abusive life style that is flourishing at an alarming rate. Young, mostly underprivileged women with no prospect of ever getting somewhere via hard work and education, opt to have a kid as soon as they can. They go on welfare, often before ever finishing high school. They no longer have to work hard or study, or, for that matter, contribute to our society in any tangible way. To increase their earnings, they have a common solution. They repeat the process that assured them free money w in the first place. Many of these unwed mothers often mange to bear another fatherless child, giving themselves a raise. The often young, unemployed, uneducated fathers never take responsibility for their children. Moreover, they are discouraged from achieving a decent job. Why should they go through the legal channels, work hard, and then pay child support? It is so much easier to stay under the radar and get paid under the table, or, better yet, to disregard all aspects of living as a responsible citizen. Once they put an end to handing out cash to those who choose to be single mothers time after time, holding them responsible for their actions, this circle of abuse will not be working so efficiently, it may even stop.

So, when you go to vote, remember the responsibilities that come with your choice. Your choice will be less disappointing.

No, I am a Scot. We are filthy heathens who never use towels.

I also have a little more faith in humanity and less in myths.

Glad to hear the the thought of losing SFN can provoke such emotions! :)

Brilliant Abigail! Do you not recognise a tongue in cheek statement when you see one?

When I was in Beijing I was working with children's rights lawyers (amongst other people, including human rights lawyers), increasingly they are acquiring a sense of individual liberties and they have a proofound respect for life but it is different to the way it is perceived in the west. Do not be suckered by too much propaganda, you will find yourself believing politicians next!

I am English and I don't mind if I am called British or English

I believe that those women who have babies for the sake of welfare benefits are relatively few.

I wish it was beyond race, but it is not. Those statistics again. I am working on a fetal alcohol syndrome project focusing on Native American and African American women. The more I get into it, the more horrifying it becomes in terms of both legislation and attitudes. I have also worked with a mothers in prison project for years. Too many pregnant women, are imprisoned for child abuse in regard to the fetus, not only for what they do, but in cases even for what they might do. I might add that this is frequently without evidence or due process. As it happens, most are poor and African American. Yes, training and access to education are needed so they can leave damaging relationships, learn to advocate for themselves, and envision a different life for themselves and for their children.

When we talk about race and gender bias we know it is all about the system, which is self generative. All of us must collude on some level to allow "the system" to exist. My questions are where do we start to change the balance of power, and who are "we"? Do we follow national politics which appears unchanging or find another way?


American politics. To misquote the sage of Lichfield "the disputation of precedence of a louse over a flea" or "two bald men disputing the posession of a comb". I can't remember which is Johnson but both apply. We can only hope that the Latinos reconquer California, Texas and Florida. The French the Mississippi. Mutt Romney can then preside over the Dystopia presaged in "The Hand Maidens Tale"

Oh yes Celeste, I can only agree with most of this. I happen to think that some of the most generous, in every sense, people I have ever known are Americans so comments about greed and such points are about some individuals rather than something with substance.

Obama the Commie is such an outrageous display of ignorance from people who probably think that Karl was the Marx brother who was not in the films, or would believe it if fed that wisdom (LOL). Yes, Celeste the fall of the British Empire should be an example to those who believe themselves immune from such fates. As for the hint of conspiracy you threw in about the 'big unknowns' who pull all the real strings in this world, well Abigail - no, not real. However, if we look closely we can see who they are and where they are, some are in the USA, others here, yet others there and around the world there is a quite small hegemony who have disproportionate exercise over the rest of us. That is where capitalism has driven itself into a corner and into which it will further retreat with wealth and power until somebody or something comes along and stamps them out. Who, what, when and where are open questions but a few 'empires' may be crushed when that day arrives. The USA could be part of that. Incidentally, we should all always bear in mind that the U in USA tells us that this is a union of states and that successions are not impossible. As recently as the 1980s the notion of the end of the USSR was inconcievable, the same U for another union. It is gone. Will Texas or X be a sovereign nation state one day? Who knows?

There is a song by Joan Baez, "There but for fortune"

Show me the prison, show me the jail

Show me the prisoner, whose life has gone stale

And I'll show you a young man

With so many reasons why

And there but for fortune, go you or I

Why are poor women who have "too many children" singled out here re: responsibility (in this country at least statistically speaking the majority of women who are poor and single heads of households are African American). Why propose such harsh remedies where training and education become punitive measures imposed by big brother rather than an act of discovery? Why take a 1984 approach rather than exercising empathy?

There is talk of thoughtful voting...That also applies more broadly...Responsibility , at least in terms of democratic ideals, is inevitably shared responsibility and providing education is our most important civic responsibility.

Regarding the vote, I have always voted. I am struggling because I think the vote is important but should it be pro forma? How long do we continue to vote for the lesser of two evils. I wish there was a "none of the above category" or alternatively I wish America was ready to move beyond a two-party system.

Americans are more frightened than selfish given historic expectations and the reality of the world today. And yes, they can be generous.

A very famous French comedian (Coluche) once said “if voting could change things, it would be illegal!”

The more I think about it, the more I agree…

Oh yes, it was a long end. The American Revolution marked the beginning of English Emperialism, often called British colonialism, which has seen its greatest change and liberty for many countries in the 1950s and 60s. In truth it is still a small part player in a political world where it is gradually becoming challenged by powerful former colonies like India.

As or religious doctrine, that was definitional alone. I agree what you also say about the USA's middle classes and religion and that change. But that is a generation or two back, people of my greater age thought that way or marched and sang in the 1960s to end that hegemony. It seems not to have worked. Religion is again the opium of the poor as Karl marx described it and demographically are th biggest growing socio-economic classification in the USA, particularly Hispanic and Afro-American people. Apart from the hope Obama offers middle class Afro-Americans and a few of the 'working class', most US politics beats the Anglo-Saxon drum. That is a serious midjudgement by both big parties and something the small, almost unheard of other parties may yet come to exploit.

As for people living out of the USA, like the UK, our impact is small. Voting is far less informed than those who are there and too often used as a privilege that people are proud to hold rather than a gambit in the big chess game of politics.

I think it's appropriate to remember that the motto of the USA is "In God We Trust." Even though the religious right seems to project the idea that God is on their side, the left demonstrates that God truly is on their side as reflected by their focus on middle class values. How can anyone accurately discuss politics in the USA without acknowledging the part religion plays? As far as voting is concerned, I have voted in every elections since I was 21(now 77) and consider it a privilege to exercise that right as an American citizen.

We are British and lived in England, no problem with either, so you must have been talking with Little Englanders and I wouldn’t give much for their
Political views either.

I meant to evangelise literally, which is to preach/teach religious doctrine with the purpose of making people believe a particular message. It has secular implications as well, ironically. Those are what, irrespective of where one stands on belief, we are seeing played out at present.

I am a Scot. So right. Those bits and pieces of North America that were under the English crown along with French and Spanish territories (indeed Russian if Alaska is included) made a nation that had the potential to help positively change the world. Had the British bits remained as they were then possibly colonialism would have continued since the revolution there was the beginning of the long end. The latter would be a 'do not know about' and the former is an interesting question.

What comes through to me, is that USA is the most selfish society on earth. Economically, until recently, it was also the most successful. Does that mean that to be rich, you have to be selfish? Ironically, it was that same selfishness [or greed] which brought the US financial sector to its knees in 2007 and nearly wrecked the rest of the planet at the same time. I ind it amazing, for example, that in a civilised(?) society like USA, anyone could even think that it is a bad idea to have a form of national, government-led health service. Surely in a modern country, universal health care should be a right? But, I have American friends who are warm, witty, loving, fun to be with - until it comes to politics, when all their intelligence seems to fly out of the window.

I am not a US citizen, but quite a few of my friends are. I do not know one who has lived in Europe for the last 30 or 40 years who votes or would care to. However, in various incarnations I have heard your arguments before. Sure they hold sound. But are you not missing ingredients? Fast food is often only as good as the relishes that add some flavour, or not? The pro-lifers have latched on to their interpretations of the Christian bible to put an addictive edge to their relishes, they turn biblical scripture over so that the early Christian notion of the rich getting a pass card to heaven was by looking after the poor. Now it is a rich man/woman's relish. Get rich and heaven is yours. Those who stay poor can suffer, end of. Then there is plenty more of that across the relish tray in many manifestations. To hell with all the rest of the people, be they Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever. Buy the neatly packaged evangelising relish and God is in your burger pack.

The other, the pro choice, side just let the bland, tasteless burger stay bland and tasteless. They keep the relish off the table in case people get hooked on the one that leads to another that the 'other side' gives out generously. Because nobody wants to fight with God, they discretely package the Christian version into each burger box so that consumers have a choice of whether to chew on it or not. Most do, after all it is thrown in for free.

Thus the choices of being a citizen in a democracy are made so supermarket shopping easy that nobody has to think beyond which candidate has the nicest smile, who will make ME richer or give me a chance not to be so poor or really convenient off-the-shelf stuff like that. People who don't have a dime can't afford the junk food anyway, so they get nothing, so nothing actually changes. Democracy moves further away from the masses and Uncle Complacency replaces Uncle Sam. More unwanted babies are born to not want to vote and nobody really notices. Or at least they pretend not to until it becomes a federal welfare budget issue. If somebody does think hard and says something about it, well there are places of various grades up to Guantánamo Bay waiting for those who say it loud enough to be heard. So nobody does. Viva la Democrácia!