Election 2014

'Why can't I have a gun and get an abortion?'

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Obama and Boehner
White House

In a Los Angeles Times piece about how disappointment with the economy, distrust of government, and distaste for President Obama drives many Iowa voters to favor Republican candidates this year, and many others to sit out the election, a great summary of the lousy choices posed by the two major parties comes from the mouth of an Iowa City waitress.

"Why can't I have a gun and get an abortion?" asks Heather Molyneux, who won't be voting in the midterms, not out of lack of interest in the issues, but revulsion at the Republicans and Democrats. "Really, they're both so extreme," she says of the two political parties that have made themselves the quasi-official either-or choices for most Americans for generations.

Pundits like to echo that second sentiment, arguing that "moderation" and "common sense" policies will bring Americans together and solve the nation's problems. But what these calls for centrism usually amount to is mashing together the authoritarian tendencies of the left and the right on which newspaper columnists agree so that we can have have both gun control and high taxes. Moderation, to them, means a big, bossy government that avoids the extremism of leaving people alone.

But Heather Molyneux wonderfully captures the opposite sentiment. To her—and to many Americans—extremism means the tendencies of Republicans and Democrats to lard their policy positions with authoritarian presumption. People, she adds, should "make their own choices."

That's a moderation we should all be able to get behind.