The Politics of Abortion

I’m well aware that this post will make some people mad. I’m aware that some people will not like me afterward, but that is none of my business. I have learned that what people think about me, really isn’t about me, it’s about them. Regardless, there is something I must talk about no matter the fallout.

I want to talk about rape and abortion. I happen to know a few things about both, but that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about something even MORE emotionally charged… the politics of rape and abortion.

As someone who spent their professional career learning ways to inspire others into action, I know the most often used strategy with the highest success rate. It’s emotional appeal, in particular, that of fear. If you can make someone adequately afraid of something, anything, you will have their attention.

I surreptitiously inserted anecdotes of unsavory scenarios that befell my customer’s competitors.  The solution, of course, was what I was selling. I talked a lot about the difficulties of running a business in this economic climate and how my service could alleviate those worries. I discussed safety issues, injuries, potential injuries, loss and catastrophe topped with a heaping helping of worse case scenarios. In the end, it was always about finding their fear and pushing on it with a deft hand.

I sat in seminar after seminar to learn how to do this. It’s a textbook sales strategy and it is the strategy our politicians uses on us time and again. They do this so that our attention is not focused on complicated, cerebral, tangibly measured problems such as the deficit and fiscal responsibility, but rather on the lowest common denominator in us all, our humanity, specifically, the things we most fear.

They do this by creating what’s called false dilemmas (I know, because I used to create them). A false dilemma is when an issue is presented in terms of black and white, A or B, right or wrong. The goal is to inspire you to pick a side. Either option will press heavily on an emotion or ideal rooted in fear. When you are forced to make your impassioned choice, you will essentially be choosing them, the red elephant or the blue donkey. You will be so afraid of the other choice, that you will also choose to support everything else they stand for, right or wrong. You will then vote for them every time, and that’s all that matters. They count on you not thinking, just being afraid.

Why do they do this? Because it works. We all have fears that drive us into action and they manipulate those things to A. gain your attention, and B. gain our allegiance. Pressing our fears inspires us to secure our flags in their camp. To seek easy answers and safety in numbers. Perhaps we feel less alone and a little more in control by aligning our beliefs? Whatever the case may be, this strategy is effective in creating a “base” of people who will vote one way only, no matter what  is said or done.

This base is composed of the “devout” Republicans and “staunch” Liberals. The people who check mark the ‘D’ or ‘R’ at the top of the ballot regardless of whose names are under them. The D’s and R’s, they rely on these people to vote this way. They say these are their constituents, but the only time they care what these people think is when they’re trying to get nominated to candidacy. Otherwise, these are the devotees, the groupies, the panty-throwing 20-something in the front row who knows all the words to their songs. They aren’t the ones that need convincing of anything. Their name is forever in the same column without anymore work to be done. Easier than shooting frightened fish in a leaky barrel. These voters are what I used to call the “low hanging fruit.” My real concerns were not these customers, they were the other customers who demanded tangible information, a measurable ROI, or workable plans for creating jobs and providing affordable healthcare. Those were the ones that made me work harder and be better.

Despite what my decidedly liberal mother and in-laws might think, I am not a Republican. I did not vote for Obama on 2008, but I might in 2012 and yet a Democrat, I am not. Perhaps it’s my identification with being an “outsider” or the inherent issue I have with being told what to think or how to feel–either way, I do not align myself with either party. I don’t feel anything about these affiliations and their politicians and I don’t jerk my knee at stupid statements like “legitimate rape” or “death panels.” Because that’s all they are; ignorant, irresponsible, emotional firecrackers meant to ignite the base and create a false dilemma.

Everything has context. Most decisions have a grey area, an alternative explanation, another choice that is not being presented. The context for the latest sensational gaffe is a man whose been a politician for 23 years and (like all politicians) dancing around the emotionally charged subject of abortion and women’s rights which, by the way, happens to be the most impassioned false dilemma of them all. It’s black or white, people; better make your choice; stake your flag– because either we’re killing babies or infringing on women’s rights. Choose now America because we need your vote for life!

Horrible, insensitive, unfortunate choice of words by Todd Akin, I’ll give you that, but what is the fallout from this monumentally ignorant phrase? It gives us all a chance to re-up on our allegiances; put our fears in check and react again in a fervent, impassioned way to the issue of abortion and women’s rights. We all get to reaffirm our choice and the politicians get to count how many names are in their columns. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR, BE AFRAID EVERYONE! Don’t ever forget what you believe! It’s either right or it’s wrong!

I gotta say, few other things fire me up more than when people refuse to apply logic, reason and compassion when deciding who should run this country.

I am not against having a moral compass or belief system. I understand that everyone has different barometers of what is right and wrong. I understand that not everyone will come to the same conclusion (if there is just one conclusion). I expect that. In fact, I think that differing view points lead to better ideas.

But that’s not what happens. What happens is name-calling, demonizing, shaming and sycophantic levels of worship all of which have nothing to do with beliefs. Those are reactions to fear-based thinking, not a moral or ethical compass. It’s the antithesis to workable solutions and productivity. The only thing that slinging insults and blind worship will get you, is more hatred and delusions… and lots of partisanship–stark, polarizing, paralyzing, partisanship.

Do you want to know the TRUTH behind politics, politicians and people? We are not all that different. Nobody wants the reality of an unwanted pregnancy to be a choice anyone has to face. Nobody wants women to be raped in any fashion. All of us want to have the freedom to choose our destinies. All of us want a chance at redemption for our sins and poor life choices. And all of us want to live without fear and oppression of any kind.

Problem is, until we can stop the irrational reactions to our own fears, we’ll rarely make the most reasonable decisions about anything. Good decisions are not based on fear, they are based on a compassionate understanding that everyone is equal, deserves respect and the benefit of the doubt. That means everyone from the disheveled, drug-addicted, prostitute who’s claiming rape, to Todd Akin, himself.

Because what you believe about another person says more about you, not them.

Update: Today I found this in my Facebook stream posted by Paulo Coelho, a prolific, internationally famous author whom I adore.  Well said, Mr. Coehlho.

12 thoughts on “The Politics of Abortion

  1. This took courage and passion to write Shannon, I applaud you for doing so! The one thing you will never see me write about is politics. My position (however anyone feels about it) is that the presidency is a job I’d never want and one I’d be last to criticize someone else about. I know people like to think they have a lot of influence over what happens in the political race so they feel passionate one way or the other, but I just [personally] feel like it’s out of my hands. So, I concentrate on raising morally, emotionally, and physically healthy children and being passionate about what I believe God wants me to do which is to help others through volunteering in groups that support addiction for young people and abandoned children through the CASA program. The whole subject of politics is like the business of a circus to me…let everybody else get worked up, I don’t think it’s ultimately going to make any difference…

  2. Thank you Kimberly. I believe the reason people feel powerless is because they don’t fall into either side of the political divide. If they don’t plant their flag, they are alone in their beliefs and therefore powerless. Not so. People are more alike than we are different and we need to stop supporting fear-based political campaigning. That being said, your work is so important. I’m living with the devastation caused by addiction in my family right now and the world needs people like you.

  3. This is an excellent post. I can tell that you are an educated, well-informed thinker, and I LOVE THAT. I want MORE of that in my life. Yes, the fear mongers are winning for me today — FEAR FEAR FEAR! I’m all over it. It’s mostly because there are so FEW eloquent, all-points thinking people like YOU in the power positions. Sadly, the majority of people in either party are not well-versed in business, law, or inclusive beliefs systems. Yes, there are people who will stop to study the gray, but I do believe the majority can’t move past black/white, which can have very serious consequences. Which way will the Big Teeter Totter swing? I guess we will learn soon. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Blondie, I’m sorry for taking awhile to write back, this comment must have slipped past my radar. Thank you so much. I truly believe the things we fear and our instantaneous reaction to those fears is what makes most bad decisions. I’m not beyond being afraid, but I try to label my fear for what it is and then be intentional about coming from a place of compassion. It’s not an easy thing to do if you’re used to operating from a fear-based place. Thank you for commenting.

  4. If “nobody” wants women to be raped, then how do you explain the fact that rape happens every day? Or the rapes that are institutionalized, e.g., rape as a tool of war?
    “Somebody” DOES want women to be raped. A whole lot of somebodies, I’m afraid.

    • You’re right, perhaps I should clarify for the those of you who do not want to read between the lines of prose and understand the gist of the statement. “Nobody (who is sane and decent and kind) wants women to be raped.”

      And your last refrain of your sentence, is my very point. Thank you for making it.

  5. Pingback: Freedom with Fear | Moment A Day

    • Wow. Nice compliment to boost my day. Thank you Judith. PS…. I want, want, want to come to a Seattle writer’s meetup soooo bad. I open every email and sigh as I delete it because my life is so full right now. It’s going to happen one of these days.

  6. This post is rather long despite not saying much other than ‘think more about your choices and refuse to be manipulated by fear tactics’. I’m not saying that that message is bad I’m just saying it can be summarized in one sentence and the rest of the words just emphasized that sentence and therefore most of them seemed unnecessary to me.
    Not sure which point was supposed to be controversial as you didn’t state which ‘side’ you were on at any point (again, I’m not saying you needed to declare a side, as it’s irrelevant to what you *are* saying, I just don’t see how you can claim the post will offend people when you barely state an opinion at all, let alone a controversial one). Furthermore, the info generally applies to most things and has very little to say *specifically* about abortion. Not enough to warrant abortion being mentioned in the title anyway; this would lead me to think you put it there just to get more readers. As a writer, don’t you believe this kind of false advertising to be unethical?

    • Not sure how to respond to this Ellie? Sure, I could sum up the gist in a sentence, but you can sum a novel in a synopsis and it’s not the same thing as reading it.

      I said that people *might* be offended because talking about politics and/or abortion is a sensitive topic that tends to provoke deep emotions. If you weren’t offended, I would consider my effort a success because offensiveness was not my objective.

      I purposefully didn’t state my specific opinions because I didn’t want the post to devolve into being about abortion. It’s only meant to get people to think about why they believe what they believe and how politicians manipulate our fears to get our allegiance which stops us from thinking, and all too often, results in mud-slinging and unproductive partisanship.

      I think it’s aptly titled as it *is* about “The Politics of Abortion.” No gimmicks to get readers, just the subject of the post. I suppose that’s up to a personal style, but that’s what I chose.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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