Conservatives Are Liars: Ends Justify Means

PinocchioLast week, Donald Trump announced that women who get (or try to get) abortions should be criminally charged. His campaign quickly walked back the claim. But Katha Pollitt made an excellent point about this in an article in The New York Times, Abortion and Punishment. Basically, she says, “Why not?” If conservatives really believe abortion of a zygote is murder — that a 2n diploid cell is a full human being with complete Constitutional rights — then shouldn’t any woman who attempts to get an abortion at least be guilty of attempted murder?

As Pollitt noted, the anti-choice movement gets around this problem by claiming that the women are victims. They don’t really want to get abortions, it is just all of us pro-choice advocates who push them into it. I would take this argument more seriously if these same anti-choice proponents were for a strong social welfare program. But in general, they want women to have no choice in when they have children and then to abandon them to a Dickensian life. But regardless of that, Pollitt said, “If you consider how determined a woman has to be to get an abortion in much of the country these days and how much energy states expend trying to dissuade her, it’s hard to see her as a frail flower.” Indeed.

So the anti-choice movement will use their “states’ rights” argument right up to the point that they get them. Once Alabama can outlaw abortion, the conservatives will turn on a dime and claim that states should have no right to allow women to have abortions.

But the truth of the matter is that the anti-choice people are just liars. What they want right now is to overturn Roe v Wade — either in the courts or through a Constitutional amendment. In other words, they want to allow the states to decide. But how does that make any sense? So abortion is murder in Alabama but not in California? The truth of the matter is that they don’t want to overturn Roe v Wade, they want the opposite of it; they want abortion to be considered murder everywhere.

It’s just like with the old (and still quite common) conservative complaint about liberal activist judges. Well, there pretty much are none of them. The activist judges are almost entirely conservative. But conservatives didn’t care about activist judges then and they don’t care about them now. They only care that the judges provide decisions that they agree with. And I’m not against that. I want the same thing! But I don’t go around claiming that I alone know what the Constitution means and therefore any decision I don’t like is the result of a conservative activist judge.

So the anti-choice movement will use their “states’ rights” argument right up to the point that they get them. Once Alabama can outlaw abortion, the conservatives will turn on a dime and claim that states should have no right to allow women to have abortions. This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy about conservatives: there is no consistency. The ends always justify the means. When it came to same sex marriage, they thought it shouldn’t be up to the states and we got the Defense of Marriage Act. But when it is about abortion, it is just the opposite — for right now.

As for me: I’m a federalist. One of the biggest problems with Scalia’s death is that it can end up with different federal law in different areas of the country. It has the potential to turn us into a confederacy. And we’ve tried that and it failed. When people talk about states’ rights and when libertarians claim that local control is always better, what they are really saying is that they want their own little preferred laws — usually really vile ones. My friends, the conservatives represent the most unpatriotic movement we have in this country.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

18 thoughts on “Conservatives Are Liars: Ends Justify Means

  1. Honestly I want to know what the end game is here. Let us say they get everything they wanted. Women are prohibited from having abortions and face prison if they get one. Women are prohibited from having birth control and face prison if they use it. Meanwhile since they hate schools, taxes and all of that, they shut down the school systems so kids have no school to attend.
    They also impose stiff penalties if women neglect their children so women spend time in prison.

    I mean it is nuts. They want to impose their dream of what humans should be and damn the consequences. Yet they won’t admit it no matter how hard you press them. Damn that is depressing.

    Thanks conservatives.

    • I’m pretty sure the end game is a slave-labor economy, using prisons and constant surveillance instead of overseers. And you’re absolutely right, the worst things is they won’t admit it.

      • I still maintain they have no end game, but they would be fine with this end game. That’s the whole point. The “bad guys” will be punished and the “good guys” will be rewarded. They’re moral reasoning is no greater than a slow 8-year-old’s.

      • The end game is to make as many humans as miserable as possible I think.

        They believe suffering is good for us.

        • I appreciate the sentiment, but I don’t think that’s actually true. I think most pro-life voters don’t think in terms of reality. They think in terms of an innocent little baby inside a woman’s tummy. Really: conservative thought is mostly divorced from reality. It is mythic in nature. This is why Ayn Rand was obsessed with romanticism and hated realism. But will people be reading Atlas Shrugged in 200 years? I don’t think so. But I do think they will be reading The Grapes of Wrath because it is about actual people making the best of a bad situation. The ending of the book is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Meanwhile, Atlas Shrugged is just one long whine.

    • End game?! Hahaha! There is no end game just as surely as there is no end game for a toddler. They just want what they want. Overall, I think they are fine with a Dickensian world, because they believe that our system makes the lives of the unworthy too good and the worthy not good enough. There are people who are anti-choice who really do care about mothers and children, but these are the exception. Most of them just don’t care, but they see it being all about “those people.” You know what they call it: Christian love.

        • There will always people who want to back to before the Renaissance. We have to fight to some extent just to stand still. We have to fight like hell to make progress.

  2. Meantime, in Canada, there has been no law against abortion for 25 years. We’ve had very limited anti-abortion terrorism. This is, of course, what murders of doctors and firebombing of clinics is, terrorism. Say it loud and proud. I haven’t followed her enough to know: is HRC willing to call it what it is? I hope so.

    By the way the current US cabinet, including HRC, has been very active in privatizing schools. Please own it, if you support her. If you want more information, check out Diane Ravitch under Frank’s ‘Weekly Reads’.

    As in most countries, Canada doesn’t have this crazy system in which manslaughter can get you life in one place, 5 years in another. Criminal law is federal here.

    • That sounds like a far better criminal law system — for Canada.
      With the level of corruption in US politics, we’d probably bungle it up.

    • Well, Canada is much better than the United States in many ways. You will get no argument there. And, since I’m paid from the UK in US dollars, I would be making a lot more money if I lived in Canada too!

      But I disagree with having to own every policy of a politician you support. I’m a strong Sanders supporter, but I don’t agree with everything he believes. Although I have to say that his statement to AIPAC brought me to the point of believing there isn’t much we disagree on. But if you by “own it,” you mean accept it, admit it, live with it, then I’m okay with it. If Clinton is the nominee, I will happily vote for her despite disagreeing with her greatly on a number of issues.

      But I think the love affair with charter schools is ending — especially in the Democratic Party. The problem is, there is always another way to waste a couple more decades doing nothing positive. And interestingly, Ravitch used to be a big proponent of all that education “reform” nonsense. That’s one reason she’s so great. She knows it from the inside.

      • I don’t think every person must own every policy favoured by politicians they support. But if that policy is highly definitive of that politician’s behaviour and attitudes, and especially if you are critical of others exhibiting those attitudes and behaviours,, then it just is not reasonable to underplay it or ignore it.

        If your candidate has many views that you disagree with, you might still support them for pragmatic reasons. But if you are loudly in favour of that candidate based on past performance and attitudes, then if you are rational and honest, you’re committed to their performance and attitudes.

        A very large fraction of the next President’s supporters cite motherhood progressive ideas as reasons for this support. They often don’t realize that she has acted strongly in favour of policies that oppose directly those progressive ideas.

        Obviously, the charters schools and related assholes are unreliable allies for the Democratic Party. If there are signs of a sea change here, I’m glad. I hope the President refuses to appoint cabinet ministers sympathetic to those assholes, and then orders Rahm Emanuel’s deportation. Not to Canada though.

        • It’s not just that they are unreliable allies of the DP; they are largely the DP itself. The modern DP is always looking for neoliberal policies to fix problems when old fashioned centralized government would work best for. One of the best things Thomas Frank is talking about in his new book is how the Democratic elites love complexity. Just having a centralized, well managed educational system is just too simple for them. Instead, we must use the supposed magic of the market. But if the market were so magical, wouldn’t it have put public education out of business a long time ago? And is it really the market when the government is footing the bill?

          I’ve been very disappointed with some of Clinton’s statements about Sanders recently. She doesn’t even know if he’s a Democrat? She can’t just say that he’s qualified to be president? Come on! (I’m also very unhappy with how Sanders stupidly responded.) I mostly don’t like to see delusion anywhere in the DP. And I hate to see the Clinton campaign lash out at Sanders when there is really no threat. All I can think is that Hillary is the same as Bill in being unwilling to “lose” a news cycle. That’s one thing I have to give Obama credit for: he thought long-term regarding the media. Clinton should be running a general election campaign now and doing her best to appeal to Sanders supporters. She isn’t. For a long time, I’ve been of the opinion that political consultants are some of the stupidest people on the planet.

  3. Slacktivist had a good post a few days ago about the folksy “of course we wouldn’t punish the women” line from the fundamentalist perspective. The purpose of the line is (i) to deflect the conversation and (ii) to keep the religious person saying it from thinking too deeply about the issue.

    Regarding letting the states decide on abortion, I’m reminded of what an anti-abortion activist had to say back when Bork was being considered for the Supreme Court: Bork will turn the issue back over to the states. Great, now we’ll have divide up our resources and attention into each of the 50 states rather than focusing our full resources and attention at the federal government.

    • Right! Although I know they say the same thing about us: we don’t want a mixed economy; we want a Stalinist autocracy. But the truth is that this is all projection. Liberals have things to think about: fixing problems. Conservatives have nothing to think about, so they turn into delusional maniacs who assume that the other side is as crazy as they are.

      I’m not in a good mood right now.

  4. Might I point out……if you continue to add your own ‘call-outs’ as in this article, you might attract interest from the wrong kind of publisher. Wink.

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