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Marriage Equality as a step on the road of reform, not a final destination

The discussion on gay marriage has been in the forefront of my little sphere of social media lately, especially with this case being in the news.

I've already been asked by one person why I haven't changed my facebook photo to the big red equal sign everyone in support of gay marriage is using for a public statement on the issue. I've already had to explain that it isn't because I don't support equal treatment of various partnerships. It's because I don't support "marriage" in the U.S. as it exists and is treated today, and I don't support federal use of the word marriage.

My argument for the latter:

The first amendment of the United States Constitution is often paraphrased with "separation of church and state." That's not what it says, but what it does say tells me that the state cannot use a religious term and dictate what it does or does not mean. The first half of the first sentence in the text of the first amendment is as follows:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

The meaning of this is that the government may neither force upon the populace a religious doctrine, nor force upon the church a secular doctrine. The government may not make a legal standard strictly dependent on a religious standard, and the government may not restrict the religious from adopting among themselves and adhering to a religious standard.

If our government is going to use and recognize a term to describe a legally binding agreement between adults to form an intimate partnership, application of the first amendment dictates that the term cannot 1) require the partners to adhere to religious doctrine in order to make the agreement, or 2) require the religious to admit into their existing definition of the term a status or standard which is contrary to their doctrines. Using the word marriage, the government would have to do one or the other.

I was unable to take a position on this until a few years ago, when I first heard suggestion that the term Civil Union be used for same sex partnerships. My first and consistent thought on this has been, why just same sex partnerships? The term has no religious connotations. Use of it would not inflict upon any group the religious subtext that goes with the term "marriage," which really doesn't cover open partnerships, same sex partnerships, polyamory, or any other arrangement which doesn't fit into the strict religious use of the word.

Government use of the term Civil Union for all legally bound intimate partnerships would not prevent people from calling their partnerships marriages. It wouldn't stop churches from having wedding ceremonies using the term "marriage" or its variants. It wouldn't stop communities from referring to partners as spouses, husbands, or wives. It wouldn't change what goes on in the home, in the workplace, among family members, among friends. It wouldn't stop religious partners from adhering to religious tenets related to their partnership.
It would only keep the citizens and our civil servants from having to choose between inflicting a religious standard on a government action (recognition of a legally binding agreement) or secularizing a religious term, and would therefore invalidate religious objection to inclusion of currently excluded groups from the access to government sanction for their partnerships.

I honestly do not understand why this has not been previously suggested at the state or federal level. It is such a simple solution to the debate: Because the objections to the use of "marriage" to describe same sex partnerships are religious, we should simply stop using religious terms to denote government recognition of any intimate partnership.

My argument against government-sanctioned, government regulated marriage in general, on the other hand, is a little more negative. I will start with the fact that yes, I am a married woman, and I am not going to give that up because of this argument. My husband and I have a great partnership because we put ourselves into it, and we put each other first. Our marriage isn't just about how we feel about each other. It's about having goals together, having a committed interest in each other's welfare, each other's success, each other's happiness, and each other's experiences, each of us having that relationship to the other as part of our accepted identity. We don't focus on fairness. We don't focus on 'what's in it for me.' We focus on enjoying our lives together.

That's not to say that we don't also have separate interests. We're still individuals, not joined at the hip. I'm a men's rights activist with libertarian leanings. He's not politically active at all, but he fully supports my interest in politics. He's a prolific artist and hobbyist, always working on interesting projects. I'm not generally involved in his creative endeavors, but I fully support his efforts. We take pride in our own accomplishments, and in each other's accomplishments. We have friends in common, and separate friends. Our separate interests do not take precedence over our home, our family, or any aspect of our connection with each other, and we do not allow any interest to jeopardize our connection to each other. There is nothing either of us can do or have that is worth inflicting hurt or even risking inflicting hurt on the other.

That's not a balance that just happens. We work for it. We sacrifice for it. Sometimes, we suffer for it. Sometimes, the effort required involves keeping our attention on a bigger goal than the immediately obvious one. When we do not agree on a topic or issue, discussion happens with a subtext. No matter what the argument may be, it's made with the fact in mind that each of us is talking to that person to whose welfare, success, happiness, and experiences we're committed, not an individual whose relationship to us is scant and shallow. When we talk to each other, we're applying a sculpting knife to the structure of our relationship, and we're mindful of that, taking care to continue to shape it for strength, endurance, intimacy, and (to us) beauty, and to not cut chunks from the supporting foundation, slice away the defining features, or tack on distracting, ruinous scraps.

Again, there is nothing either of us can ask or insist that is worth inflicting hurt or even risking inflicting hurt on the other. It doesn't mean we can't get frustrated or impatient during a disagreement. It means that feeling that way is not an excuse for either of us to lash out at the other. It means taking the time and making the effort to better communicate, and listen to each other, and arrive at an understanding even when we can't arrive at an agreement. And it means knowing and trusting in each others' strengths, and knowing and accepting our own weaknesses, so that we each know when to capitulate and fall back on the other's judgement, even if we feel adamant about the point. When issues come up that are deeper or broader than we're accustomed to confronting, and we have the occasional slip-up, we have to be ready to admit our roles in that. We each have to be able to admit, I screwed up. I was selfish, arrogant, careless, short-sighted... whatever lapse in effort and judgement led to the failure to adhere to the formula that has made our partnership last. And it can't be something only one partner does for the benefit of the other. We both have to be honest in our self-assessment for the benefit of the relationship. Nobody can always be right, and nobody can always be the one to compromise.

I will fully admit that we sometimes drive our circle of friends and family nuts. We're obnoxious. We finish each other's sentences. We flirt like we haven't been together all this time. We hold hands and kiss in public. We go on dates. We giggle at each other about inside jokes like teenagers. We razz each other like buddies. We get asked "How long have you guys been together?" and answer honestly, "not all that long... just fifteen years." It doesn't seem that long to us, especially when we have seen family celebrating 50th and even 75th anniversaries. It seems like an eternity from the outside, in today's 'disposable relationship' environment. 

Looking around, I don't see that level of effort in a lot of other marriages, or a lot of other relationships. My peers don't just discuss things with their partners and come to a conclusion or stasis; they fight. Often, partners end up fighting like siblings or even enemies, totally losing sight of their concern and consideration for each other during a conflict, lashing out like they're dealing with someone they do not love. Outside the home, they are focused on themselves; their careers, their hobbies, their political or religious interests, their outside relationships, their continued desirability. This leads to hurtful, selfish behavior that chips away at the foundation of their relationship with their partner, and pollutes the structure with extraneous factors. It is very common to see people put everything from their own interests before the unity of their partnership, and still expect the partnership to work. That's not productive, and it isn't ever going to be.

The people I see working hardest at their long-term partnerships, the ones whose focused, concerted efforts are on their partnerships and their families, are those whose relationships aren't taken for granted. Those who haven't had legal wedding ceremonies or whose relationships have been under attack, who have to fight back against a tide of disapproval or destructive effort, have had to do what we do. They've had to make their relationships their highest-rated personal interests. They've had to put up a partnered resistance to the potentially damaging effects of outside influences. They've had to accept compromise, to rely on each other, to refine themselves in terms of their ability to team up, and to assert their unity upon an environment which is continually assailing it with toxic elements. That environment breaks relationships like a ship slammed against a rocky shore when the partners involved do not maintain a level of commitment to each other that is sufficient to resist the natural opposing forces life presents. It strengthens relationships when the partners involved determine to be that committed and follow through with that determination.

Too often, people treat the marriage ceremony as the conclusion to a journey instead of a step into the next phase of it. They get on the boat, but don't expect it to ever sail on rough waters or through rough weather, or they expect to be able to sail it in separate directions, and they end up fighting over the helm. When they hit those rough times, they fail to work together to stay afloat, and they end up shipwrecked, clinging to the flotsam and jetsam of their shattered partnership, plunged into the icy and shark-infested waters of government sanctioned, government regulated divorce.

Government involvement seems to reduce everything it touches, bringing the standard down to the lowest, the laziest, the least considered, the least attended. The more involved the law becomes in an institution or aspect of human behavior, the more easily decayed and corrupted that aspect becomes. The problems that cause this are fairly simple; the larger the group to which a set of standards and conditions must be applied, the less likely those standards and conditions will be to fit everyone in the group, and the more likely it is that some within that group will evade or seek to avoid those standards and conditions. The larger the area over which an authority has power and responsibility, the easier and more tempting it is to abuse that power and neglect that responsibility, especially when social conditions and standards contribute to a lack of oversight where that authority is concerned, as is the case with government interaction in domestic relations. Abuse of such systems becomes easier and more tempting as they are more broadly applied and shallowly overseen.

The family court system in the United States is nothing short of a massive, community-encompassing train wreck, the fallout from which has impacted upon everything from individual family relationships to society as a whole. It is the executing agent of our society's greatest disaster outside of war, having destroyed from the inside some aspects of the strength and unity of our nation's populace. It has enabled and encouraged animosity between political groups, social groups, the genders, the sexualities, and the religious vs the secular. It incentivizes surrender in the face of adversity by paying a segment of the relationship's partnership to quit and move on, regardless of the value in the relationship, and the result has been a generation to generation decline in the structure of the family such that it has become more 'normal' to have a broken family than a united family, as  individuals within the population are no longer conditioned to cooperate and collaborate on achieving and maintaining united relationships. That entire system really needs to be dismantled, laid bare, and disempowered to make room for a more functional, less intrusive, less imposing system, but chances are that is not going to happen until we reach such a state of crisis that the mishandling of domestic partnerships and family law can no longer be ignored by the general public.

While this doesn't lead me to advocate treating same sex partnerships and other ways of life differently in terms of acceptance and acknowledgement, or in terms of the law, it is reason for concern over the potential consequences of inflicting upon these communities the conditions that come with government involvement in their relationships. Not that these relationships should ever be considered less valid, less deserving of recognition and rights, less committed, or less serious... I simply fear that expanding the current government handling of family relationships without addressing the problems inherent in the system will have more of a destructive effect than a benevolent one.

I believe that the effort to reform the government's involvement in human relationships needs to include both goals; the push to eliminate prejudice against relationships which do not fall into the currently accepted, religiously dictated standard for government acknowledgement, and the push to stem the tide of government poisoning of the spirit of human partnerships with incentives to eschew commitment and embrace conflict. I don't want to see the horrors of modern American divorce court inflicted upon those families within the currently excluded communities which remain strong through the long haul. I want to see the return of healthy functionality to modern American relationships brought in with the reform that eliminates their exclusion from social acceptance.

I support partnership equality, but I do not support polluting the currently excluded communities with the straight community's existing dysfunction. Reform of the government's recognition of and involvement in citizens' intimate partnerships absolutely needs to happen. But please, do not for a moment think that expanding the current model to include currently excluded communities is the solution. While expansion of legal acknowledgement and protection of partner relationships is a step that needs taken, it's vital to the welfare of American society that we don't treat it as a final step.

We will still have a long way to go.

This is the 21st century. We should already be past the point of arguing whether that step needs taken or not. It's time to get over our ridiculous, puerile arguments over religious opinion vs social behavior, accept the antiquity of the current system, and redefine government involvement in intimate partnerships in terms of civil law rather than religious doctrine: Adopt "Civil Union" as the government term for recognition of an intimate partnership, and eliminate religious criteria as required conditions for recognition. Create a standard set of conditions applicable to a civil union, and make allowances for variations on those conditions as long as those variations are put into writing and accepted by the involved partners. Stipulate that unless otherwise specified in writing by the involved partners, the contract qualifies them as partners for any benefits or conditions which apply to family units, such as joint financial status, insurance status, responsibility for the family's care of involved minors, ownership, control, and inheritance of property, and involvement in the medical care of one's partner (such as right of visitation and ability to authorize emergency care). Set up basic default standards for areas which can lead to legal dispute, and let individual families decide whether to alter these stipulations for their specific agreements, and how other aspects of their partnership are to be handled.

Once that step is out of the way, we as a society can begin working toward minimizing government involvement in and influence upon intimate partnerships, so that its destructive influence may be diminished and contained. Until we are able to acknowledge that we must do that, striving for "marriage equality" will only mean dragging currently excluded partnerships out into the storm with the rest of us, rather than pulling them under an umbrella of benevolence and protection.

Feminism, your hypocrisy is showing.

There is a story I came across writing a recent post which just... stuck with me. I knew as I read and re-read the post, trying to figure out why it remained on my mind, there must be a reason. When I compared it to recent events, and recent discussion, I realized the detail which had been tugging on my attention.

At one of the links, a woman describes her experience of, after telling a man no, being beaten and subdued by him, forced onto a table, her legs tied apart, being drugged, and having foreign objects and his hands inserted into her vagina against her will.  
The story came out in 2011. I only learned about it recently as I dug into the story I was highlighting in the post, about that man's lucrative business endeavors and their relationship to feminist activism on a specific topic.   
So, there's this story, out in 2011, describing this horrendous experience which is obviously violent, forcible rape. It made national news - ABC published it. I have not seen a single blog post, comment, call to action... nothing from feminists.

Total. Radio. Silence.  
Why? Why let something so heinous slip by? Where is the outpouring of support for this woman? The calls for prosecution? The demonization of the perpetrator and anyone with anything in common with him, as feminists tend to do with such cases? 
There won't be any. This woman's experience does not follow the rules. It isn't something they can use to further their agenda without hurting another agenda which is apparently more near and dear to their hearts than preventing rape.   

This rape happened to involve an abortion, one the patient didn't want.  
Family members brought her to the clinic against her will. She was in the treatment room when she told the doctor the truth. This is a physician, accountable to the Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm. This doctor, whose job it is to help the patient, instead violently forced her onto the table, stripped her, restrained her, drugged her, and performed the sexually invasive surgery against her will. And not one feminist organization has stood up to protest that behavior. No organized support has been offered to the victim. No organized effort has been made to ensure that this type of atrocity is not committed again.

Feminist groups support victims whose experiences they can use to further their political goals. When a victim's experience doesn't do that, these groups are more than willing to leave her by the side of the road and continue on their quest for political power.  
Similarly, feminist groups only descend upon and demonize an individual or group in the context of their advocacy or ideology when doing so provides a springboard from which to further their political goals. Their hatred and ire are reserved for those upon whose broken sociopolitical 'bodies' they can stand in order to feel that they've elevated themselves to a more persuasive position, from which they can more effectively lobby for the enactment of law and policy that suits their political agenda. When an individual or group's dysfunction or malevolence cannot be used in that manner, feminist groups are not averse to cooperation with them, sometimes even willing to offer them some protection, sometimes to the point of sacrificing the interests or well-being of those for whose benefit they are claiming to advocate. They'll compromise everything to prevent said dysfunction or malevolence from staining the image of the feminist crusade.

This is one reason among many why the men's rights movement must not fall for the claims, often made by individual feminists, that the two ideologies are opposite sides of the same coin, one benevolently fighting the good fight to end discrimination against men, the other fighting the good fight to end discrimination against women. It's not true - mainstream, active, real-world-affecting feminist groups do not give a rat's ass about ending discrimination against women. They care about political issues, and they're willing to be as ruthless, heartless, and sexist as it takes to further those goals.

If MRAs start losing sight of that fact, and begin trusting this two-faced, backstabbing, pathological frenemy that keeps trying to invade and control the evolution of the men's rights effort, we'll allow into our midst the equivalent of Tolkien's Grima Wormtongue; a living poison whose only goal is to subdue and control the movement's activism for its own gain, ready and willing to turn on any ally the moment our efforts are in even the slightest conflict, or even just whenever we cease to seem useful to them.

Oversight and Abortion: The skeleton in Feminism's closet

Pro abortion activists repeatedly claim that their advocacy is about keeping the procedure safe. However, as a group, particularly among those identifying as feminists, they respond to efforts at applying standard medical and legal oversight measures to the clinical practice of abortion as if proponents are suggesting an atrocity. For example, Rhode Island's chapter of the National Organization of Women protested proposed 2011 legislation (H5505) requiring that abortion clinics provide patients with information on the procedure's risks, on the risks of continuing the pregnancy, the probable gestational age (information relevant to the risk level,) and access to the name of the doctor performing the procedure. During a discussion on feminists and abortion, upon bringing this protest up, I was asked why the patient needed to be informed of risks, and why the patient should need to know the physician's name.

The answers to both are related. Abortion is a surgical procedure performed on a human body by an individual ruled by a human brain. It is as risky as any other surgical procedure of the same complication or simplicity. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, failing to acknowledge that fact is dishonest and unproductive. Opposing the requirement that the patient be given the chance to determine the level of risk she's willing to take completely undermines the argument that one supports legalized abortion "for the benefit of women." If you don't want women to know they're taking medical risks, so that they can be ready to seek treatment for any complication which might occur, or decide another option is a better choice for them, you're not really supporting the legal status of abortion because you're pro-woman. You're supporting it because you're pro-your-pet-political-party, which happens to have pro-abortion in its platform. If it upsets you to think that learning the risks of the procedure might cause women to choose not to avail themselves of it, then you are not just overly loyal to party politics, you're an ideologue.     
The second part requires a bit more attention in order to be understood. First, remember what I pointed out about the surgery - it is performed by an individual ruled by a human brain. The significance is that at the very least, this will sometimes lead to errors in performance. Because it's being performed on a human body, errors can be damaging, and egregious errors can be permanently damaging. It is possible for an injury to occur which would lead to temporary disability, or the need for surgical repair. While this is not an expected result of the surgery, if it occurs, the patient has the right to the same recourse as any other patient having any other procedure done. She has the right to sue for malpractice.

Again, if it upsets you to read that an abortion patient might sue her doctor for malpractice, should the doctor mistakenly injure her, your advocacy is not for women. It's for politics. If you're advocating for the rights of women, then you understand why these patients deserve as much right as any other patient to protection from unscrupulous or careless physicians.
Political proponents of abortion, from those simply defending its legality to those advocating government funding, have fought tooth and nail to prevent oversight of any kind from being legally mandated for providers. These groups argue as if everyone involved in the industry is there out of magnanimity, these angels of mercy whose only desire is to help poor, desperate women escape the burden of unwanted pregnancy, and therefore oversight is simply unneeded.

Occasionally, personal stories emerge which paint another picture. Abortion advocates are quick to claim that those are "pro-life" influenced, or to call them outright fabrications.

I wonder how they're going to rationalize this:

The Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Trial Will Sicken You  

Worse were the alleged practices of Gosnell and his staff: late-term abortions conducted with minimal anesthesia, high-school students working in the operating room. After his arrest, one former patient described her horrifying experience at the clinic:
Reid said she planned to tell Gosnell that she didn't want the abortion and was going to sneak out of the clinic.
"When I said no, the doctor got upset and he ended up taking my clothes off, hitting me, my legs were tied to the stirrups," Reid said.
Clicking on the link in the quote will take you to an ABC news page, where the story is paired with video from a broadcast report on the shooting of Dr. George Tiller, followed by a report on Roe vs Wade, despite the lack of relevance of either story to the events in the one being reported. The story on that page goes on to describe the assault in more detail, including the fact that Gosnell drugged Reid, and performed the abortion against her will.

Also From the abc link:

Alleged Victim Calls Philadelphia Abortion Doc Kermit Gosnell a 'Monster'
Nicole Gaither, 38, was five months pregnant when she said she visited Gosnell in 2001 . Her cousin and others that she knew had used the clinic.
Since it was Gaither's first and only abortion, she didn't know what to expect.
Following the abortion, Gaither said that she was in excruciating pain.

"When I finally went back to work I could barely sit down at the stool," Gaither said. "The pain started to get worse."

Gaither returned to Gosnell. He did an ultrasound and told her that he had left fetal remains in her, Gaither said.


"There were scores more. At least one other mother died following an abortion in which Gosnell punctured her uterus and then sent her home. He left an arm and a leg of a partially aborted fetus in the womb of another woman, and then told her he did not need to see her when she became sick days later, having developed a temperature of 106 degrees. He perforated bowels, cervixes, and uteruses. He left women sterile," Williams said in the grand jury report. 

Where is the magnanimity in this story? Where is the benevolent doctor, working tirelessly to provide a safe, clean environment for a procedure that has been touted as safe because it is legal? What really is the procedural difference between Dr. Gosnell's clinic and a back alley abortionist?

According to the stories of his patients victims, nothing of great significance.

Gosnell's defense against the murder charges he faces has been the claim that with the exception of the woman he drugged to death, the murder victims were "not viable," and that the prosecution is racist for pursuing the case.

His stated reasoning for the claim of racism is the location of his practice in a poor neighborhood, and its clientele, who were mostly minorities. According to prosecutors, Gosnell wasn't generously helping these women, but capitalizing on their desperation.

Gosnell catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women, and made millions of dollars over 30 years performing illegal and late-term abortions in squalid and barbaric conditions, prosecutors said.
It was reported in the Atlantic Wire story in the first link that $240,000 in cash was found in his home at the time of his arrest. 

More on Gosnell's clinic:

Worker Describes Gruesome Practices Inside West Phila. Abortion Clinic

Worker admits cutting 10 babies at abortion clinic

Grand Jury Faults State Agencies in Abortion Case

Grand Jury recommendations from the Investigation of Women's Medical Society

Probably the creepiest aspect of the story, even though it is by far not the worst accusation, is a bit of information mentioned in passing in several reports.

Gosnell kept severed little baby feet in jars of fluid in his office.

This is the hidden side of the abortion industry. This is what you're talking about when you protest the promotion of oversight in the name of "safe, legal abortion;" the ability of practitioners to spend years secretly using and abusing the desperate and the afraid, capitalizing on the culture of combined loyalty and shame which keeps women from coming forward to complain following the commission of such an atrocity.

And that is the nature of feminist advocacy; claiming human rights as a motive while concealing and fostering the perpetration of atrocious human rights violations. Feminist groups are much more concerned about furthering their political agenda than they are about advancing the protection of human rights.

Dear Princess Butthurt of Femitopia

...they never gave up on me...

That's the point - these organizations continue to support accusers even after being presented with conclusive evidence that the accusations are, in fact, false. Under the Violence Against Women Act's guidelines, it is virtually impossible to obtain an acquittal for a male defendant in a domestic abuse case, as these cases are heard on a guilty-until-proven-innocent standard. In order to do so, one must have concrete, irrefutable evidence against the accusations involved, such as a demonstrable alibi proving his absence from the location of the alleged incident. In order to do so repeatedly, one must maintain constant, vigilant documentation of one's whereabouts and activities. For a case to continue over a period of years, with repeated accusations found meritless due to that level of documentation, supporters of the accuser must be willing to ignore her lack of credibility, and to accept the act of attempting to obtain a domestic abuse conviction against an innocent defendant.

That these agencies and the advocates associated with them are willing to support female false accusers even after seeing concrete evidence that their case has no merit is reprehensible, and a clear demonstration of the anti-male sexism inherent in the system.

Here, we have a clear example of the type of person being supported in such cases; an individual so obsessed with her perceived enemies that she has has spent over a year stalking one of her opponent's witnesses, and petitioned organizations to assist her in silencing speech which she does not approve, even when she is not a direct target.

My answer?

Tough shit, Princess Butthurt of Femitopia. Your delicate sensibilities are not my problem.

If your advocacy cannot hold up against criticism from an obscure Google blogger, you might want to consider the fact that your position is unsupported by reality. Beyond that, if you're so obsessed that you find yourself stalking an individual to the point of inviting others into your personal vendetta, I suggest discussing your obsession with a shrink, pronto. Such behavior is not the product of a healthy mind.

Politically unpopular epiphany

American politics is like a severely dysfunctional intimate partner relationship, where the general public is a male partner, and the political parties are female partners, with Democrats and Republicans representing the primary relationships, as they have the biggest followings overall.

The Democrats would be the gold digging trophy partner, who trades her attractive appearance and the provision of favors for power and financial gain. She is accepting and tolerant of a variety of characteristics others might find objectionable... but in return she expects her partner to tolerate a pattern of infidelity and lies. She has a very controlling attitude regarding health-related behavior, but in return she promises lifelong care. She is a high-maintenance partner, requiring ever increasing financial gifts and flattery to keep her happy.

Republicans would be the publicly presentable partner, who trades promises of stability and the appearance of propriety for power and control. She is less tolerant of variety in personal characteristics, objecting to unapproved religious practices, sexuality, and other lifestyle choices. She promises to be less intrusive into the privacy of her partner, then initiates blatant intrusions in the name of protecting against outsiders. She is more frugal than her counterpart, but she still overspends, often while complaining about the spending of her counterpart. She is a finicky and demanding partner, requiring conformity to certain social and religious standards to maintain her approval.   
The general public is obviously dissatisfied with both relationships, and has made his thoughts known on multiple occasions by arguing against the behavior of his partners - the Democrats spend too much, and the Republicans aren't all that far behind. Both parties are too critical of Mr. Public, making demands ranging from slightly unreasonable to outright ridiculous. A great deal of conflict results from this, with Mr. Public regularly becoming so fed up as to evict his current partner from the house in favor of the other one, only to reverse his decision, reject the other partner, and go back to the first after a few years. At the same time, Mr. P. has a regular habit of flirting with other parties, knowing full well that his partners like to play with other constituents, as well.

Lately, both partners have become creepy-stalkerish, threatening interference with Mr. P's internet communication, taking liberties with Mr P's privacy, and exploiting Mr. P's fears to trick him into allowing his rights to be slowly and carefully chipped away. There are even hints that, as has happened in the past, our partners are in part poised to begin using violence
Instead of leaving the relationship, Mr. P has on occasion strayed from it, dabbling with Libertarian and Independent affairs, but no matter how abusive his partners have become, he always returns to the perceived security of the known relationship. With a minority of more aware exceptions, this is the dysfunction suffered by the American public; we know we're being used, abused, misled, and manipulated... and yet Mr. P keeps returning to the same system that does it to us because of the history, the promises, the guilt trips, a belief that there is no escape, and a fear of what will happen if we try. Instead of blaming our politicians for their own actions, we blame each other. 

So, that's it, I guess. My epiphany is that America suffers from Battered Voter Syndrome.   

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