middle ground

Is There A Middle Ground On Humanity?

Controversy has swept the nation for the last six months. Mass shootings continue to plague America as we witness the horrific deaths of customers at grocery stores, children in schools, and parade participants. Despite an outcry for gun control and reform, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of all citizens’ right to own firearms. In addition, the Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe v Wade decision of 1973. This effectively confers matters regarding abortion to the discretion of the States, many of which have already banned all forms of abortion.

To make matters worse, the United States seems to inch closer and closer to intervention in the Russian/Ukrainian conflict. Let’s not forget the ongoing occurrences of police brutality, a raging pandemic, and our worst financial recession. These are just snapshots into the burning house that is America, though it seems as if our elected officials time and time again function against the wishes of the people.

Take Joe Biden for example, who ran his campaign on a “reaching across the aisle” sentiment. In essence, this means he intends to find a middle ground with Republican opponents. On the campaign trail, this sounds nice and pleasant. It speaks to a utopia where people of different creeds can come together as Americans. *cue fireworks and release the bald eagle* However, in practice, this amounts to the most pressing of social issues drowned in Congress under bills and legislation endorsed by lobbyists and private interest groups. Hoping to find a middle ground with those who vehemently are against sweeping social change will have you right where you started; in the middle of the most controversial moments in American history.

On Guns

According to a poll conducted by Gallup, 66% of participants believed there should be stricter gun laws. In addition, most of the participants believed that there should be more government control over the sale, purchase, and distribution of firearms. What’s more interesting is that this is not a new phenomenon. Since the ’90s, most Americans believed that there should be stricter regulations on firearms. And for good reason, too. The Columbine shooting of 1999 is one of the earliest instances where unprecedented access to firearms backfired on America. Two high school students purchased and stored loads of ammunition and military-grade weaponry. Their supplier? Their local Walmart. In the aftermath, 12 students and one teacher lost their lives. Despite this tragedy and the hundreds that followed, Congress’ response has been silent in controlling guns.

The Second Amendment never explicitly states that gun ownership is a citizen’s right. It grants power to the States to maintain “a well regulated Militia.” This Amendment was inspired by the conflict with Britain to obtain independence. To offset the threat of tyranny by the federal government, States are allowed the right to arm their citizens. Today, this manifests as law enforcement and state military personnel. Protection and defense have always been the Constitutional language around guns. Quite frankly, I do not believe that the average citizen even really wants a gun. Owning a gun simply act as a deterrent from danger by someone else with a gun. With mass shootings and gun violence on the rise, some may feel safer facing these tragedies armed. However, if we were to see stricter access to guns, then we may see a widespread decrease in legal gun ownership.

Unfortunately, this problem is not of great magnitude to the federal government. As stated earlier, the Supreme Court ruled against stricter gun laws, arguing in favor of the Second Amendment. A lack of action while seeking a “middle ground” with the NRA and gun control activists has only left the door open for more tragedies to ensue.

On Abortion

This past month, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision in Roe v Wade. If you are unfamiliar with the case, I’ll break it down. In 1973, Norma McCorvey, known as “Jane Roe” for the case, became pregnant with her third child. She wanted an abortion, but she lived in Texas, a state that outlawed abortion unless necessary to save the mother’s life. She hired two lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, to argue on her behalf that Texas’ law was unconstitutional. Eventually, matters went to the Supreme Court. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court found that a woman had a right to an abortion per the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Planned Parenthood v Casey of 1992 solidified a woman’s right to abortion as well as restricted States’ abilities to hinder that right. That is, until June 24, 2022.

To tackle this pressing issue of women wanting to get abortions, anti-abortion politicians worked to gain control of both Congress and the Supreme Court. By using religious rhetoric, pseudo-science, and thinly veiled misogyny, politicians created road block after road block for women trying to get abortions. This manifested in States adopting their own restrictions on access to abortions and defunding local health clinics and Planned Parenthood locations. Even though conservatives painted women as baby killers, the Pew Research Center found that 61% of adult Americans believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Across party lines, the disparity is glaring; 80% of Democrats believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 38% of Republicans also feel this way. It is no surprise that the Justices who ruled against Roe v Wade were appointed during Republican administrations.

However, this is not a party issue. While adopting a centrist view, Democrats have failed time and time again to codify abortion rights. The flimsy foundation in which abortion rights, and subsequently women’s rights, are protected is liable to attack every election cycle.

Choosing Sides- No Middle Ground?

The issues of human rights are utilized to the benefit of the wealthy in the concert of politics. While on the campaign trail, politicians take to the streets to connect to “the average American.” If you’re any good, you can come up with enough promises to make Republicans and Democrats both see you as a viable candidate. When it comes down to it, neither party has acted in accordance with public opinion.

‘Polarization’ is a word that has surfaced in the media. It is the idea the divide between ideologies is becoming more and more extreme. In politics, this can be known as the far right and far left movements. Usually, the former is conservative and the latter liberal. When it comes to social issues, one side often calls for the stripping of human rights when the other calls for massive social change. I do not subscribe to a particular ‘party,’ but it is hard to not align yourself with the side that calls for social reform and action. I want to end this with a quote from Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

1 thought on “Is There A Middle Ground On Humanity?”

  1. Pingback: Republican Political Agenda Supersedes Human Rights - The DC Voice

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