On the "Restore Sanity/Fear" Rally

So, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a rally yesterday. (More here.) And Jon Stewart closed the event with a serious monologue urging cooperation, which I suppose was supposed to be profound, but is, frankly, utterly meaningless in the context he created of "both sides are just as bad."

Both sides are not just as bad, and both sides are not equally responsible for the antagonism that has led to the extreme political polarization which currently prevents cooperation.

It's evident in a Democratic president who's alienating his own base in order to work with the opposition—and an opposition who overly promise gridlock and talk about blood oaths to shut down the government if they don't get their way.

It's evident in a civil rights movement in which people want the basic rights to serve their country openly and marry whom they love, the equality guaranteed them by the Constitution—and their ideological opponents shutting down debate with lies and fearmongering and hatred mendaciously cloaked in religion, so they can claim a right to religious freedom, even as their religious beliefs oppress others.

It's evident in a debate about a legal medical procedure in which the people with the pro-choice position are said to be restricting freedom, though no one is forced to submit to the procedure under their paradigm; in which the people who support giving access to women to a life-saving procedure are the ones who are said to be murderers. People with the "pro-life" position harass patients and murder doctors.

The positions and strategies "both sides" of these issues—as on many others—are not equivalent.

The pro-choice position does not force anyone to get an abortion who does not want one; the anti-choice position, however, prevents women who want abortions from getting them. The pro-marriage equality position does not force anyone to marry a person of the same sex, nor require that any churches perform same-sex marriage ceremonies; the anti-marriage equality position, however, prevents same-sex couples who want to get married from doing so and prevents churches who want to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies from doing so.

The progressive position treats women and LGBTQIs as autonomous, rights-bearing human beings deserving of full equality; the conservative position treats women's bodies as state property and LGBTQIs as second-class citizens.

There isn't room for "compromise" there. There is only a fervent belief in the consent, autonomy, respect, and dignity of marginalized people—and a shameless, unapologetic movement to protect undeserved privilege at the expense of the same.

The progressive position allows for individual choice; the conservative position does not. The progressive position expands collective freedom; the conservative position limits it. Over and over and over.

Affirmative action. Immigration reform. Gun laws. Funding the social safety net. Rendition. Torture. Eavesdropping. War v. diplomacy. Pick any issue. It's always the same.

Because that's the nature of conservatism: To preserve privilege.

And lecturing "both sides" about cooperation when one side is about advancing opportunity and expanding access, and the other is about preventing both, is bullshit. The end.

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