Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More on Schiavo

There are some provocative letters in the NYT today. I particularly like this one:

To the Editor:
Washington's intervention in the Terri Schiavo case is a grotesque spectacle. The only person qualified to make a decision in this tragic situation is her husband. So much for the sanctity of marriage.

William C. Brown
Urbana, Ill., March 21, 2005

It's ironic that Republicans are supposed to be the party that champions a smaller, less intrusive government. Apparently, that's the case in every instance -- except when it comes to the most intimate, personal decisions of citizens, like who to marry or when to die. We can't tax ourselves to assist African nations in conflict, or even to restrict businesses from dumping chemicals into the water we drink...but when it comes to a single family's life-and-death decisions, the government must wade into the fray.

I'm tired of being told that as a liberal (who does not identify as a Democrat), I am an unpatriotic whiner who should move to Canada. I don't think that people like me -- or our conservative counterparts -- are the anti-Americans. Rather, it seems our own government is out to redefine our national identity in detrimental ways. Again, from the NYT editorial board:

...President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.

For a party that sings paeans to states' rights, it seems incongruous to stampede over Florida's legal decisions in the Schiavo case. It doesn't make much political sense, either, since a large majority of Americans are opposed to hooking up the feeding tube again. Maybe this really is about making an overture to the hard-right backers who helped reelect the President...but the President seems to forget that a lot of other people voted for him, too, and that they aren't necessarily going to be comfortable with this turn of events.

When it comes down to it, I'm still just outraged and frustrated that our legislature can gather the resources to enact an eleventh hour policy on this very, very special case -- yet it can't find the motivation to do anything substantive about real issues that affect all of us? Why does it take decades to make a decision about health care or global warming when it only takes days to "help" one family?

Gaaah! They say every empire must fall; historically, those tumbles are precipitated by a collapse from the inside. I'm not really interested in following the path of the Roman Republic, the British Empire, or any other world superpowers from days of yore -- but the powers that be seem intent on marching us into the darkening days ahead.

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