You may know about the popular video game, Angry Birds. In this game, players use slingshots to launch angry, wingless birds at pigs that have taken the bird’s eggs. As players advance, new birds appear, and some of them have special abilities. The goal is to destroy all the pigs on the screen.
When I think of Angry Birds, I can’t help but think about the political landscape in this presidential election year. I’m not the only one (see for example NPR NH Republican Primary ). Most of the comparisons to this video game focus on the GOP candidates — campaigning politicians hurling words at each other and about the President like wingless angry birds, hoping they’ll aim well enough to knock themselves into the White House come November.
There is little substance in the debates I’ve heard. We’re engaged in semantic games defined and played by men acting like school boys fighting over a ball during recess. We have politicians in Congress who are making decisions, not based on engaging the pressing needs and issues of the moment, but on their signed pledge to vote unilaterally regarding raising and cutting taxes. And instead of treating women’s healthcare rights as the complex issue it is, politicians are waging a simplified culture war over women’s bodies.
The recent debate regarding contraception coverage and between pro-choice democrats and pro-life republicans (who, by the way, also tend to be pro-death penalty) is based on a fallacy. The real issue is, of course, more complex and concerns a woman’s right under the Constitution to pursue happiness — to define the contours of her life for herself. While the Founding Fathers did not necessarily have women in mind when they signed our nation’s governing document, this statement applies to women as well, the citizens of this country who shoulder the bulk of contraception costs. If the cost of Viagra is covered through health insurance, why not The Pill? To allow the views of a few powerful men to frame or ignore the private needs of women and families in this country is unconscionable.
It’s no surprise that the focus on the campaign trail turned to social issues when we started seeing slight decreases in unemployment numbers. Who knows how long this heightened political and media attention to social issues will last. For now, at least, there’s an opportunity to take all the anger being slung around and transform it into energy towards inter-party change. For the Democrats to grab the current culture war and actively reframe it and engage in it as a war for lasting and systemic social and political change. 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a culture war…
The danger is that, if we can’t shift from the current iteration of these culture wars, if we can’t move beyond anger, what is best for this country and its people will not be politically possible.