Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keeping a Republic

After the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what had come out of it.  Franklin famously answered, "A Republic, if you can keep it."
The first Constitutional Convention was truly an amazing things.  Thirteen sovereign nations brought their shared goals and some knowledge of English Common Law to the table and created a set of laws like no other.  An independent judiciary.  A free press.  Checks on the executive branch's power.  No state established religion.  The right of private citizens to bear arms.  Fair treatment to those accused of crimes.  Rights guaranteed to the state governments.  And, as time went on, these protections expended to include the creation of the electoral college, the abolition of slavery, equal protection and voting rights for all citizens, and term limits for our head of state.  The Constitution of the United States of America has truly been one of our treasures for 230 years.
Is it coming to an end?
Last Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven different countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and the Sudan).  It applied to all immigrants from those countries, even those who had green cards or US passports.  People flying in from those nations when the order was signed were either detained at airports, instantly deported, or removed from flights.  Americans protested in airports from New York to DC to Chicago the Boston to Philadelphia.  Others sued in federal court.  By the next night, a federal judge in Brooklyn had declared a partial stay on the order for those who had already arrived, and ordered them released from detention.  Three more federal courts followed suit.  Checks and balances ruled the day.  And there was much rejoicing.


It didn't last.
By Monday, we learned that Customs and Border Patrol were defying the judicial orders in favor of the executive order (which had effectively been overturned by the court.)  Moreover, they were denying the detainees access to attorneys and advocates.  Several members of Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, attempted to intervene on the detainees' behalf, but were also turned away.  By Monday night, the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, was fired by the president for refusing to defend his executive order.
Somehow, none of this looks like my idea of "making America great again."
This series of events started with immigration and has gone on to be an attack on the very foundations of our government.  We have always prided ourselves on our smooth transitions of power, our checks and balances.  However, those checks and balances seem to be on life support.  Our freedoms are in jeopardy, as the president muzzles government agencies and his office presents "alternative facts" (how Orwellian).  Protestors are derided as "snowflakes" and "sore losers."  And the freedoms that we take for granted are being denied to those who have already been granted access.
It's time to ask ourselves: Can we keep this Republic?

Coming out of retirement--Lysistrada and personal responsibility

So, I had to go underground for a while because anything I blog could and would be used against me in a court of law.  However, as of April 2016, that is no longer an issue, since I am no longer espoused to Builder (hereafter known as Mr. X) in the eyes of G-d or the courts.  And there was much rejoicing (Yaay!).  Much has changed, of course.  I have gone from homemaker to mathematics student (because STEM fields pay enough to support two kids in the most expensive city in America).  The girls are in school, and hating every minute of it (Le sigh).  And now, I get to be a lot more outspoken!
So, on to our wonderful political scene, or that which has brought me back into blogging.  There has been a lot of discussion of late about the dismantling of the ACA, or Obamacare, by our new administration.  One of the first items on the chopping block was the mandate that insurance companies fund contraceptive devices.  (Remember, as always, contraceptives are not abortifacients.  You can't terminate a pregnancy that never happened.  All comments referencing abortion will therefore be deleted.)  The pushback against this rule always came down to statements about how women should take "personal responsibility."
OK, I'm game.  We'll take a page from Lysistrada, a Greek play about women who stopped having sex with their husbands to protest a war.  From here on in, all women of childbearing age should simply stop having sex with men.  Husbands, fianc├ęs, boyfriends, one night stands are all off limits.  And, should your man protest, just bat your eyes coyly and say, "Oh, honey, I'd love to, but I'm exercising personal responsibility."  My guess, it would take about a month before contraceptives are funded 100%.
See, when we talk about "personal responsibility" in the context of contraception, we are talking about women having sex.  We frame the conversation as though every woman who dares take the Pill or get fitted for an IUD is one of those slutty slutty mcslutty whores who just want to sleep around scot free.  Not like the pure virgins or matrons who have earned our respect.
Except--those sperm cells don't differentiate between the squeaky clean pure married ladies we hold up as exemplars of womanhood and everyone else.  A woman's ovaries don't stop working just because she had those 2.8 kids the statisticians discuss.  Any woman who has any intercourse with any man--ring on her finger or not--can find herself having more children than she can support.  And suddenly, we sneer in our contempt, "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."
So, we take steps to avoid it, while still participating in sex acts that enhance relationships for 99% of us (about 1% of the population identifies as asexual).   We exercise our "personal responsibility" by using contraceptives.  The end result is fewer pregnancies, fewer families in poverty, and--surprise! fewer abortions.
Women are already trapped in a horrible place when it comes to sex.  We are expected to provide it on demand to our spouses (spousal rape may be illegal, but good luck having a prosecutor actually take you seriously), but when we get pregnant as a result, we have to bear an enormous strain on our bodies.  We lose jobs.  We could lose healthcare.  We have the added burden of another mouth to feed--and expected to do it as valuable legal protections for women, access to healthcare, and our social safety net are rapidly dwindling.  The only low-cost provider of pre-natal services in some areas is Planned Parenthood--which may lose access to Medicaid reimbursement for care under our current administration.  So, when we try to utilize the insurance we pay into (and all taxpayers pay into Medicaid in some form or other) to prevent a(nother) pregnancy, we are shut down with "It's not my job to pay for your birth control!  Why don't you keep your legs closed?"
Fine.  Challenge accepted.  We stop putting out until the conversation changes.  Then maybe our society won't be so quick to yell about "personal responsibility."