Wednesday, March 23, 2005

As a few of you have asked me about it, here's my quick take on the Shiavo case:
a) The federal government may resolve social issues only when those issues pertain to constitutional rights (think the ERA) or interstate commerce (think the federal drinking age).

b) There's no discrepancy here between the constitutional rights guaranteed Shiavo by the state of Florida and by the federal government; nor does Shiavo's case pertain to interstate commerce.

c) The federal government has no grounds to intervene in the case.
Simply put, this is a matter for the state of Florida alone, and specifically a matter for its judiciary. Since Florida's courts have already decided whether Shiavo would have wanted to live or die in her present condition, the issue should be closed.

That it isn't begs one central question: why has the Bush administration -- which purports to support small government conservativism -- pressed the federal government to intervene? Answer: because the moment the Republican party began relying on the religiously conservative vote, it opened itself to an inevitable contradiction. Against the politically conservative core of the GOP there emerged a competing faction whose absolutist beliefs centered on social values rather than political process -- thereby setting the stage for conflicts such as this, in which social conservatives insist that the Republican party realize their agenda in any way possible, regardless of specific political process, and political conservatives demand that the party adhere to its more foundational position of limited government. Clearly, the Bush team in this case sided with the social conservatives over the political.

In the end, what the Shiavo case makes me wonder -- and I imagine this differs from most other commentators, since I haven't been exposed to what by all accounts is some rather repulsive political and media exploitation -- is just how wide the social vs. political conservatism divide has to become before the present alliance between the two factions is no longer sustainable.


Anonymous M.K.E.H. said...

I have to agree that the federal government has no right, nor precedent to intervene in this matter. Furthermore, despite my wish that Schiavo should live, I do not question the correctness of the court's decision. My question is what does Bush stand to gain on this matter? This is not an election year, and is he hoping to gain support from this action, which clearly can lead nowhere? What irks me the most, even more than an attempt by Bush to show his human side?, is the media coverage of this tragedy. If you have an English teacher ranting and raving about children getting arrested for bringing water to Schiavo, then the teacher has missed the point. What the English teacher, and other members of the viewing public are missing, is that this is just the media trying to capitalize on yet another tragedy. I doubt Shiavo would have ever wanted to be in the spotlight of a country whose media is always on the search for the next flashy story, in an attempt to keep the public happy, and "informed."

2:20 PM  

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