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Where Politics and Principles Collide

“My body, my choice!” – This short phrase just two years ago was understood nationwide as an argument for expanding accessibility to abortions. “My body, my choice!” now millions cry out as government officials and private sector executives are mandating vaccinations in many parts of society. Individuals’ views on abortion and vaccine mandates are independent and frequently mixed and matched across political lines. That is healthy and normal, but how did we get to the point where many pro-life activists are unironically chanting the slogans of their adversaries?

This article is not meant to argue in favor of either side of the abortion debate but rather to examine one of the most drastic contradictions in plain view of the electorate today. The pro-choice movement argues that abortion is included in “a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body,” in the words of Vice President Kamala Harris. The pro-life position objects to the previous claim on the grounds that the fetus’s body is separate, and thus a woman does not have the right to consciously harm it. This much is common knowledge. However, the fact that both sides agree with the principle that a person has a right to bodily autonomy is often overlooked. Although the Democratic and Republican parties disagree about how it applies to abortion, they have united over the principle that no government or private entity can force an individual to undergo or abstain from medical procedures – right?

Wrong. Enter COVID-19 and the vaccines engineered in response. Many of the same politicians that affirmed bodily autonomy in the arena of abortion are pushing for robust vaccine requirements for workplaces and public spaces. President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are three high-ranking government officials that fall into this group. The vast majority of elected Republicans stand against the policies of their Democratic counterparts, arguing that vaccine mandates violate the human right to bodily autonomy.

The political left attempts to reconcile this contradiction by stating that there exists a right - which supersedes all other rights - to be safe from an unenumerated set of hazards.

In their view, the government may do anything in the name of protecting the populous from COVID-19, including violating our right to bodily autonomy. This argument is not new to the leftist arsenal. Public mass shootings are another hazard on this nebulous list, and the left has argued that the government may neglect the human right to self-preservation in its alleged effort to protect us. However, the list of threats seems to be selected haphazardly. For example, the large quantity of fentanyl being supplied from overseas presents a substantial danger to the lives of Americans. Nevertheless, the hypothetical right to be safe from fentanyl smuggled across the southern border does not supersede the supposed right of foreign nationals to be welcomed into the country after illegally crossing the southern border. This hazard is not on the list.

Ironically, this exact logic can be used to justify pro-life policies without debating whether it violates a pregnant woman’s right to bodily autonomy. The safety of the unborn in the womb is jeopardized by abortion, so the government may neglect rights to bodily autonomy to protect the unborn. This is the issue that arises when one strays away from principled behavior. The left will use a principle to support one prong of their ideology and then be forced to tear it down to support another.

The key to making sense of the Democrat’s contradictory agenda is understanding how they decide which hazards to include on the nebulous list. It boils down to the theory of intersectionality. For several years, the Democratic strategy has been to divide the population by demographic category – race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. – and gain overwhelming support from the minorities in each category. It is an astute play. Should their appeal remain high amongst minority factions, they will continue to grow their combined majority support as national demographics shift toward greater diversity. To generate appeal, the Democrats seek to exploit one thing among minority groups: historical and often abhorrent mistreatment in the past by the governing majority. The Democrats have portrayed themselves as fighters for the oppressed, and they argue that historical injustices equate to modern-day oppression. Those who cannot claim membership to a victim group are labeled as benefactors of “the system” since their demographic historically held the most power.

Democratic ideology holds that nobody should be allowed to suffer at the hands of the system. Any hazard that can be blamed on capitalism or racism is added to the list. This can even include forces of nature. Climate change is blamed on capitalist industry, and COVID-19 has been called racist. However, there is an assumption that intervention by a government controlled by Democrats cannot create problems or cause harm. This notion is flawed. To name just one example out of many, the border crisis results from reversing policies meant to secure the border. As a result, thousands of foreigners and Americans have been hurt financially, sexually abused, and killed by the cartels or by violent aliens.

Conservatives and progressives actually agree about a great many things. We all agree that middle and working-class Americans are struggling economically, that the education system is failing our youth, and that the environment needs protecting, to list just a few. We disagree primarily about solutions.

A fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives is that progressives seek to use the power of government to solve problems with brute force. In contrast, conservatives concern themselves with a process of thought, discussion, cost-benefit analysis, and incremental changes consistent with their principles.

I do not want to ascribe motive without certainty to the Democrats who control progressive policy. Given the terrible outcomes of their policies and the abridgments of our civil liberties, it isn’t hard to imagine potential ill-intentions. However, they may just as easily be well-meaning and incompetent at governing.

Either way, it takes extreme hubris to violate one’s own principles when it is politically convenient to do so and then claim moral superiority over those who adhere to those same principles.

Most progressives in the electorate support the policies they do because they are compassionate. Although they may be shortsighted, the policies are often designed to address a problem head-on. Some people can’t afford healthcare? Give them free healthcare. Mass shootings? Ban guns. Women are suffering from medical complications following table-top abortions because laws are restricting licensed abortion? Repeal the laws. Global pandemic? Stop the disease by mandating preventative measures. Regardless of whether the actions are appropriate or the outcomes are positive, the intent of Democratic voters is to help people. They don’t want to destroy America, and they have nothing to gain from doing so. In fact, many unvaccinated, life-long Democratic voters certainly have conflicting feelings about politics because of this issue. This should give conservatives hope.

People generally like principled governance. All that is left to do is convince them that principled policies are not only effective, but compassionate too. //

Madison Culper


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