Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Defense of Whoopee Act: Protecting Your Right to Make Love to Your Sweetie

If the Democrats were smart and interested in winning elections (neither of which am I convinced of), they would be jumping all over an opening conservatives have been handing them recently. One of the most successful wedge herrings of the last couple of decades for the Republicans has been abortion. But as anyone who has been paying attention (and this excludes the media) realizes, abortion is not about abortion.

Abortion is part of a cage and frame strategy designed to do two things, (1) focus all of the time, resources, and energy that would have going to advance and defend women's rights and tie it all up on this one issue, and (2) act as the tip of the sword in a movement that wants to place a radical evangelical Christian theology deep within our governmental structure.

What is interesting is that in trying to woo primary votes from the Republican conservative base, some of the contenders for the GOP's nomination have gotten sloppy and let another issue out of the cage, an issue that (1) clearly shows the game they've been playing and (2) is an issue they can easily get creamed on if only Dems had the nerve to take it to them.

The issue is contraception. Abortion is not about preserving life. As their advocacy of war and the death penalty and their hatred of the SCHIP program providing health insurance for children shows, they don't have a deep regard for life; what they do have is an odd paranoia about sex. Occasionally they'll be honest and argue that their really opposition is based on the bizarre concern that if abortion is legal, more people will have sex and it is this that must be stopped. Fornication is seen as a horrible pox on society and it is the making of whoopee that we must end in order to preserve decency and our way of life.

Of course, not only is this nonsense, but finding a reframing of this issue in an advantageous way is almost as easy as playing "spot the white guy" at the Republican National Convention. They see all sex not intended to impregnate as problematic. Of course, human sexuality is an incredibly complex thing and our sexuality finds expression for all sorts of reasons, some good and some not. But their opposition to the availability of contraception turns out to be a war on making love to your sweetie. Whether your sweetie is your spouse and you don't want more kids because you couldn't afford college for any more, whether you are in a long term-monogamous relationship and are thinking seriously about whether or even when marriage would be the right move, or if your partner happens to be of the same sex and these defenders of "values" are doing their best to discriminate against you by denying you civil rights, they want to make sure that your most tender and intimate moments do not happen.

If Democrats had it together, they would grab this issue and include it in every public appearance, every campaign speech, and on every talking head program. Bring forward a proposal to enshrine it in law, the Defense of Whoopee Act. When asked whether we really need a law, the talking point response, of course, is "In order to repel attacks by right-wing fundamentalists, we need a wall around making love, a whoopee cushion, if you will, to protect intimacy." All the Presidential candidates should sign onto a public promise to defend people's right to make love to their sweeties and challenge the Republicans to do the same.

It's a wedge to drive between libertarians and social conservatives, it's a winner with singles, young people, and pretty much anyone who loves someone or would like to. The ability to express our warmest, most caring feelings in the privacy of our own home with the person we love most in the world should be protected from government intrusion led by fundamentalists. These people are undermining what is good about America. Why don't they go to Iran where they belong? Make love, not war.