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March 2004 (Updated by the 15th)



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Photo Copyright © John B. “WEDGING SOCIETY”
by Jessica Kuzmier

     Many of the social issues touted in this election year are issues that are either carried by or supported by a feminist platform. Abortion, gay rights and marriage, gun control, war, and the economy are all pertinent to what would be considered "women's issues".

     March has been designated Women's History Month, as though with blacks, only one month is needed to study one half of the human race. Then we all can get on to the business of Real History for the other ten months, and feel great that we gave some slack to the ladies and the umbrella of minorities under the banner of one race. March 2004 is also a month in which President Bush has declared that he will uphold traditional values by proposing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and Democratic contenders vie for the chance to unseat the incumbent president. Social issues such as gay marriage and abortion are wedge issues which may determine who the President of the United States will be in the next administration. Indeed, there are those voters whose stance on abortion will determine who they will vote for, regardless of what else the candidate stands for. The Right to Life Party, for example, was created in part to criminalize abortion, but also is against other death practices such as euthanasia and the death penalty. However, they have traditionally supported candidates who were pro-death penalty, if the candidate was against abortion.

     The abortion and gay marriage debate has also, in a sense, distorted the traditional stance of both liberals and conservatives. Liberals have historically supported nationalism, while conservatives have generally espoused the rights of state autonomy. President Bush's recent foray into criticizing Massachusetts and California for legalizing gay marriage and wanting a constitutional amendment banning the practice has distorted this view. Likewise, liberal Democrats who want each state to be able to make up its mind on these issues are reversing their traditional party position. The stance on nationalism versus state's rights is so endemic to each party that this reversal is analogous to Democrats supporting trickle-down-economy and Republicans taxing the daylights out of major corporations. It is obvious that social issues are such a driving force that people are willing to change longheld views to create a new paradigm of philosophy.

     Indeed, wedge issues that are considered "women's issues" are so strong as to change who is in office, and the political persuasion of those who are there. In the 2000 election, when President Bush was selecting a vice-presidential candidate, it was leaked out that on his short list was a Northeast governor. Debates as to whether this person was John Rowland, Christine Whitman, Tom Ridge, or George Pataki buzzed. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Governor Whitman was blasted by her own party for favoring partial birth abortion. And soon after that, Dick Cheney, the person who was heading up the vice-presidential hunt, found out the happy news that he had been chosen as Bush's running mate. Mr. Cheney, who has never been a governor and is not from the Northeast, is against abortion. Now, with the special creation of the Homeland Security Department, President Bush has been reunited with his longtime friend, Tom Ridge. Mr. Ridge, who is for abortion rights, was probably most likely the President's original choice as a running mate. However, he was nixed in favor of Cheney. Abortion is such a wedge issue that the appointment of Mr. Ridge with his pro-abortion stance, might have cost the President the election.

     Another incident of this is the election of Carolyn McCarthy, a Long Island Congresswoman. Mrs. McCarthy, a Democrat representative, was actually a registered Republican at the time of her election. Originally, as a non-elected citizen, she had broached her congressional representative to strengthen gun laws, being the widow of Dennis McCarthy, a victim in the Long Island Railroad massacre in 1993. Mrs. McCarthy, whose son, Kevin, was also seriously injured in the shootings, wanted her official to push for stronger national gun laws (the shooter, Colin Ferguson, obtained the gun legally in Florida), but her official did not consent. McCarthy ran against him, on the Democrat ticket, on what was mainly a gun control platform. She has been a representative since then. McCarthy has expanded her base, to views on the environment and breast cancer solutions, but initially the wedge issue of gun control ushered in her election, and caused her to change party affiliation, at least officially.
Photo taken by J&J
     What is evident from all this is that so-called women's issue are not irrelevant back-burner issues to be dallied with at tea time while the rest of us get down to Real Business. Pacifism, considered to be a feminist issue, is being more seriously considered, at least in the form of diplomacy, as more and more soldiers die in Iraq, and it is becoming more apparent that the show of force has not fully dismantled terrorist organizations. Indeed, as the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, it seems that the war on terrorism is turning into the proverbial plugging holes in a dam. Saddam Hussein is captured, and new terrorist affiliations move in, and guerilla insurgents feel emboldened enough to endanger the American turnover of control to the Iraqi people. Violent uprisings against President Aristide in Haiti have forced the sending of Marines to protect the American Embassy. In looking for WMDs in Iraq, it turns out the Pakistanis have been selling nuclear secrets to other countries, including Iran. And the ever-present problem of North Korea lingers; a cornered animal believing that everyone is out to bite them. Finally, all this war, and of this writing, Osama bin Laden is still free. The strong-arm tactic doesn't hold the same rah-rah as it did in the beginning, and while many troops who are being sent to Iraq and other places are eager to serve their country, the ones who have been to these places are beginning to want to come home. The idea of "kicking ass" may have great appeal by those who wish to see all involved with 9-11 dead, but as American troops come home in body bags, the dark side of "kicking ass" shows its ugly face, and sounds more like a hollow echo than a call to arms.

     The so-called yin fabric of society is as potent a force as the blatantly powerful yang factors. They are crystallized in wedge issues, which wielded expertly enough can change minds, philosophies, and reverse the direction of a country, or the world. It is important to realize their power, and use it wisely to create diplomacy and enhance the freedom of all.

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