Saturday, June 9, 2012
The Essential Difference Between Left and Right
Twenty-eight words in the Bill of Rights illustrate the essential difference between Left and Right in contemporary American politics. Here is a case study: the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
The current debate over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) clearly illustrates the essential difference in world view between limited-government conservatives and most of the rest of the American political spectrum, especially liberals.
Here's some essential background.
VAWA provides funds for investigating and prosecuting violent crimes against women, requires restitution by those convicted, and allows civil suits in cases prosecutors choose not to pursue in criminal court. It created and funds the Office on Violence Against Women at the US Department of Justice. VAWA passed with broad support from law enforcement and victims' rights groups, among others, and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.
The Democrat-sponsored Senate bill to reauthorize VAWA this year includes language extending its protection to same-sex couples and allowing victims who are illegal immigrants to receive temporary visas. This bill, S 1925, passed the Senate on April 26, with Democrats unanimously in favor and most Republicans opposed. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives responded with a substantially different version of the bill, more acceptable to social conservatives. HR 4970 passed the House on May 16, with little Democratic support and very little Republican opposition.
Both sides seem willing to politicize the issue -- the Republicans by kicking and screaming about the provisions involving same-sex couples and illegal immigrants -- as if they are never abused or are unworthy of the law's protection -- and the Democrats by claiming that Republicans are making war on women -- as if we Republicans are incapable of appreciating the horrors visited upon our daughters, sisters, friends, and neighbors. But let's look past the political posturing. Let's also ignore for the moment the inevitable problem that federal money in this case, as always, comes with strings attached.
From the Left
Here are excerpts from recent columns on VAWA by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and a prominent Utah woman, Holly Mullen, who currently is Executive Director of the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City.
Valerie Jarrett wrote:
Holly Mullen wrote:
From the Right
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote:
Here is part of his further explanation, focusing on the first two objections he listed.
The difference between Left and Right on this issue is not that one cares more about women than the other, or that one deplores violence against women less than the other, or that one thinks there are important things which should be done for victims and the other disagrees. The difference is not that one side is more compassionate or more generous than the other. The difference is that most of the Right believes we should follow the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, while the Left believes that, when we think a matter is important, we should not let the Tenth Amendment stop us from addressing it at the federal level.
Here is the entire Tenth Amendment:
It's not that violence against women is trivial; I don't know anyone who thinks it is, except, perhaps, some of the criminals themselves. The Right does not argue that nothing should be done, or that no level of government should be involved at all. It argues that in the US Constitution the people did not grant Congress the authority to act in this policy area.
I agree with Holly Mullen; the victories are "worth paying for." But we can pay for them at the state level. The best thing we can do to protect everyone's freedom in this nation is to limit the power and scope of the federal government.
Copyright 2012 by David Rodeback.