What's All This Then?

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

I was listening to Bill Press on the radio the other morning and learning about the great "victories" in Ohio and Mississippi a few days ago. In Ohio, the anti union legislation championed by Governor John Kasich was "roundly defeated" 61 to 39 percent. Had it prevailed, the rights of public employees to belong to a union and to be able to negotiate the conditions of their employment would have been close to non-existent.

In Mississippi, it was apparently a surprise when voters rejected the notion that human life, with all of its rights guaranteed by the Constitution and by State law, exists at the moment of conception. Being a southern State where it was assumed that religious beliefs and mores would prevail over logic and reason, the 58 to 42 percent defeat of the State’s "Personhood" amendment was also considered "resounding."

There’s a whole barrel of celebration going on in liberal circles around the country. They consider those two votes as "victories" - and major victories at that. You’ll pardon me if I don’t join in the festivities. Not that I’m in favor of turning public employees into indentured servants or of criminalizing the use of the "morning after" pill. My absence of joy can be attributed to the very numbers that have aroused it in others. They are celebrating 58 and 61 percent. I am concerned about the 39 percent that voted to hell with unions in Ohio and the 42 percent that voted to award the successful meeting of egg and sperm in a woman’s fallopian tube with the same rights that they enjoy as human beings.

As winning and losing percentages in an ordinary race for political office - local, State or national, they would not be considered to be unusual. It’s not unusual for incumbents to be reelected by much larger margins -70 to 30, 75 to 25. But those are votes to elect an individual to a political office. Sure, voters may be swayed by the positions taken by the political opponents, but still they’re electing men and women, not voting yea or nay on a specific topic. And for that reason, I am not encouraged by the losing percentages of 42 in Mississippi and 39 in Ohio.

Ohio is probably not as worrisome as the folks in Mississippi who want to extend the Constitution of the United States to the Fallopian tubes of the female American population. There’s probably no way of knowing how many of Ohio’s 31% would be considered or consider themselves "workers." Workers as opposed to "suits." Presumably, they are not union workers. Voters I know can sometimes exhibit an incredible depth of stupidity but I can’t imagine many of them voting to eliminate themselves. So what we have in Ohio is an unknown number of workers voting to do away with or severely restrict the bargaining power of a surviving segment of a movement whose determination and sacrifices over a period of decades, were responsible for "rights" that they take for granted. A reasonable number of hours that they are required to work in a week and an additional wage for time worked in excess of those reasonable number of hours, Two days a week off!! Paid vacations. A health insurance program. Reasonably safe working conditions. No locked doors preventing them from leaving the work place in case of fire.

There are those who voted to curtail the union rights of public employees because their work situation is not as good. They earn less money. Their pension isn’t as good or perhaps they don’t have one. And they feel that since public employees are being paid from the taxes they pay, they have a right to complain, not stopping to think that public employees pay the same taxes. These are people who vote from their gut instead of their head. They don’t realize that if the efforts to kill the union movement succeeds, many of the "rights" that they now enjoy in the workplace would likely also disappear. Along, very likely, with the middle class to which many of them belong. Fortunately, there were enough people who stopped to think and didn’t vote from their gut after eating a dozen hot dogs swilled down with four pints of beer. But the fact that 39 percent of all the people who came out to vote didn’t understand which side of the question was in their best interest is worrisome.

The "Personhood" defeat was much more worrying, particularly when I read that the Mississippi effort was just one of what may be several more to follow. It sometimes makes you wonder if the idea of "sovereign" states is the best idea for a "united" nation. I’ve touched on this before with regard to the varying penalties for murder. Now we have people in some states who want to have their own version of when life begins and to extend whatever penalty they have for murder to the zygote inside a woman’s body - and I would imagine that death would be the penalty for murder in such states.

What truly shocked me about Mississippi was that the measure was expected to pass because it is a "Red" State - as if a "Red State" was some sort of foreign country where people live under laws that would be totally unacceptable to Americans. It is such a natural order of things among our divided States that when the measure was defeated 58 to 42, it was reported as a "surprise" - not as a shock that it wasn’t defeated 99 to 1 or that sane people were dismayed that such a measure could even get to the point where it would be voted on. There is no doubt in my mind that the people behind the effort to afford constitutional protection to zygotes think of themselves as conservatives and decry any attempted intrusion into their private lives by any level of government. Yet how different is what they want from the measure of control that some other nations that I’ve alluded to have over their female population? It’s not an answer to say that control isn’t being sought over the woman but only over her fetus. It’s insanity.

So while some may celebrate these "victories" I am saddened that at this stage of our "work in progress" democracy, there are still a sizable number of Americans who want to undo pieces of the progress we have made and turn the clock back to a darker time.