Parting Shots

Choosing Wisely

Even though I’m 'conservative,' I’m repelled by the thought of the tentacles of government reaching into an arena that is absolutely the most private, personal, morally fraught corner of life

By Dave Skinner

In a way, it’s good my brilliant career as Montana’s finest newspaper pundit is at an end. Yep, I’m done. Beacon editor-in-chief Kellyn Brown has hunted down a replacement wordsmith whom I’m sure you’ll enjoy, possibly much more than me. But not too much more, please.

The neatest thing about this game has been the need to look down the road a ways, trying to pinpoint what will matter tomorrow, what might come next. Digging deeper for contextual material that frames today has been a happy challenge that I’ll miss.

But I’ll admit there’s been some topics I promised myself to never touch, they’re so toxic. With this final deadline, it’s now or never, right? Sure, so please enjoy my last little dance before I step on the third rail.  

I’m a Republican because it mostly fits my outlook. For one thing, I’m a capitalist. I’m not very talented, but the sustenance I earn with my own sweat has been more satisfying to me than sustenance I might be “entitled” to from the sweat of others.

More importantly, I’m an American, a proud and prickly citizen of the United States of America, a constitutional republic. Our republic is viewed by political “scientists” worldwide as an exceptional, and exceptionally successful, political experiment.

I’m not aware of any other nation on Earth founded upon the literally-Revolutionary idea of a nation comprised of self-governing ordinary citizens. Sure, revolutions (actually, civil wars) begat the Soviet Union and Communist China, but the results were, and still are, profoundly evil.

All other nations are more-deeply rooted in historic ethnicity, religion, and/or geography. For example, most former European monarchical empires have evolved somewhat into “democracies” under various forms of parliamentary “self-government.”

But America does self-governance best. More importantly, we do human freedom so well, nobody else even comes close. Compared to the individual human rights enshrined and guaranteed in our Bill of Rights and other civil-liberties Amendments, the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” is meaningless word salad. Did you know Britain has no bill of rights?

Anyway, some years back, Dad and I were watching the Sunday political shows. While fast-forwarding through the commercials after a particularly painful guest interview, he turned and asked “Kid, do you know what the worst part of being Republican is?” “Oh, I could guess, Dad, but tell me.” “Abortion! Don’t any of these hypocritical numbskulls realize that women have rights?” “Probably not. If they do, they don’t care.” “Which is why I’m not voting for that blankety-blanking idiot!” “Me neither!”

So – what’s my position on abortion? Well, it’s irrelevant here. Oh, it’s nuanced, uncomfortably arrived at after hours and hours of intimate, often intense PRIVATE conversations with great, deeply trusted friends and loved ones. I’m grateful my position is totally theoretical, less grateful I’ve voted accordingly – at least in Republican primaries.

We all agree important life decisions should be made by those most affected, correct? We also all agree that having kids (or not) is the most profoundly life-shaping decision any of us ever make. By far, raising kids is the biggest responsibility any of us are ever tasked with, and by golly, some of us don’t handle that responsibility worth a doodly.

Furthermore, simple biology dictates that women, by orders of magnitude, are more affected by a pregnancy than anyone else. Period.

So, even though I’m “conservative,” I’m repelled by the thought of the tentacles of government reaching into an arena that is absolutely the most private, personal, morally fraught corner of life. I personally and privately simply cannot infringe on the rights of others. Those willing, even eager, to publicly infringe on those rights?

I must wonder, what other rights would they restrict if enabled through an election? Should I enable them with my vote?

Well, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, citizens of the respective states will have to decide what rights half of them keep. Kansas already voted, and I think chose wisely. When Montanans get their chance, as an American citizen my duty will be to choose, however reluctantly, just as wisely.

Thank you, and goodbye.