No Mandates or Man-Dates

One thing I find amusing in the weeks since the election is the backpedaling of conservative pundits on the definition of a mandate.

If you’ll remember in 2004, when Bush “won” with a whopping 50.7% of the popular vote, you couldn’t turn on a television or radio without hearing the word “mandate” about a hundred billion dozen times per hour, as though the outcome was some sort of epic landslide. Robert Novak crawled out from his coffin in the cellar of a Transylvanian castle long enough to hiss out the following in response to a question on whether Bush’s “win” was really a mandate:

Of course it is. It’s a 3.5 million vote margin. But the people who are saying that it isn’t a mandate are the same people who were predicting that John Kerry would win. … So the people who say there’s not a mandate want the president, now that he’s won, to say, Oh, we’re going to accept the liberalism that the — that the voters rejected. But Mark, this is a conservative country, and it showed it on last Tuesday.

Peggy Noonan warbled out the following on the same topic:

George W. Bush is the first president to win more than 50% of the popular vote since 1988… The president received more than 59 million votes, breaking Ronald Reagan’s old record of 54.5 million…It will be hard for the mainstream media to continue, in the face of these facts, the mantra that we are a deeply and completely divided country. But they’ll try!

And, of course, all you have to do is toss this idea into the echo chamber of conservative commentators, and the message gets spread far and wide as incontrovertible fact: Move over, everyone — the country has spoken, and our Fearless Decider now has a free pass to oppress gays, privatize everything, create even larger gaps between haves and have-nots, and basically do whatever in fuck we damn well please.

Well, jump ahead four years, and what do these same pundits (and likely the myriad others who drink the Kool-Aid they make) think about Obama’s victory with 53% of the vote?

Here’s Robert Novak, just before grumpily slamming his coffin shut:

The first Democratic Electoral College landslide in decades did not result in a tight race for control of Congress.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt won his second term for president in 1936, the defeated Republican candidate, Gov. Alf Landon of Kansas, won only two states, Maine and Vermont, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by wide margins.

But Obama’s win was nothing like that. He may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.

[Emphasis mine.]

What did Peggy “our country is united under the banner of conservatism” Noonan have to say about this?

This is already a dramatic time — two wars, economic collapse — and people are rattled. “Moderation in all things.” It should be noted here that the split in the popular vote was 53% to 46%. That is a solid seven-point win for the new president elect, but it also means more than 56 million voters went for John McCain in a year when all the stars were aligned against the Republicans…Mr. Obama has a significant portion of the nation to win over. He acknowledged this in his sterling victory speech, when he spoke of “those whose support I have yet to earn.” He does have yet to earn it.

So 50.7% > 53%, apparently. I mean, that’s grade school math, right there, and they fuck it up so bad it’s pathetic.

Now, it’s true that over 46% of the country voted for John McCain — over 50 million Americans. That’s a lot of people, and an election victory doesn’t mean you get to just ignore that many people just because your side was victorious. Real democracy means considering the wishes of the minority as well. But, see, here’s the difference: Conservative policies tend to be extremely oppressive, or at least facilitating of oppression. Bush had to ignore the wishes and demands of liberals, because implementation of conservative policies is on the whole fundamentally incompatible with freedom.

For instance, it’s impossible to dictate who an adult can and can’t love while also giving that same adult the ability to decide for themselves who they do and do not love. It’s impossible to give religious freedom while denying the right to perform marriage rights to churches and individuals who believe they can’t deny any two consenting adults the ability to marry each other regardless of genitals. It’s impossible to force teachers to propagate the message that science has nothing to do with the scientific method while also allowing them to teach their students what science actually is. It’s impossible to outlaw abortion while still giving a woman the right to her own body. It’s impossible to ban pornography and contraception while at the same time giving individuals the right to sexual freedom.

Conversely, Obama can for the most part ignore conservatives’ wishes and demands, because conservatives in the end are still free to do as they themselves please (save for oppressing other people, which is a right they should unquestionably and forever be denied). Their churches don’t have to marry gays and they themselves don’t have to have gay relationships just because gay marriage is legalized. They can still send their children to “Sunday School” without worrying that some third party has the right to come into their Bible study classrooms and countermand everything they teach. They have the right not to get abortions or use contraception, and not to look at pornography.

Ultimately, it’s difficult to claim a real electoral mandate in the case of either a 50.7% or a 53% win. Obviously, Obama won by a larger percentage, substantially more electoral votes (which is really meaningful, given that the Electoral College is skewed in favor of more conservative states) and over 7 million more people, but anything in the range of just over 50% isn’t really a mandate. The real mandate comes from the fact that liberal policies give the individual the right to be individual — that they don’t oppress anyone in the same way conservative policies almost always do. The real mandate comes from the fact that oppression is wrong.

25 thoughts on “No Mandates or Man-Dates”

  1. Alas, the site has taken a turn I have long feared.
    Politics are where your heart truly lies, and the Chick disections have become a dead issue.
    Well, far be it from me to take issue with your views political and spiritual, tho I will admit to having a respectful disagreement with both. But this Christian admits to missing your on-target views of an extremist even by fundamentalist standards.
    Oh well, c’est la vie.

  2. Panda Rosa: Well, there was a Chick Dissection a few weeks ago, if you’ll recall.

    The thing is — and nepphi and I discussed this while working on the last one — Dissections are actually kind of a lot of work. Several hours go into each one, and many are maybe eight or more pages, all of which has to be concentrated cleverness with regard to either humor or religious philosophy. It’s not that the other writing I do here is less substantial, but jokes for the Dissections have to be more concise, and each sentence has to pack more of a punch or it just doesn’t work and ends up being a bunch of lengthy ranting and paragraph-length jokes and the whole format is left by the wayside. Even the collaborations take a lot of work, with coordination, proofreading, editing, formatting for the web with appropriate image links, etc.

    I’ve been trying to do Dissections when I can, but it’s going to be less frequently than back when I was doing one maybe every couple weeks. I hope to have another up sometime around the end of the year, depending on how everything else schedules out. Right now, I’m in the process of working on another novel, at least two short stories, an online TV show (that I’m going to start filming next weekend), and teaching myself to play guitar. This is all on top of working a full-time job and still trying to have at least some semblance of a life.

    The political essays aren’t getting in the way of Dissections (and the Dissections have always been themselves politically-oriented) — if I stopped with these kinds of op-ed-style pieces, the Dissections would still come about as frequently. It’s just that there would be bigger gaps of total emptiness between them, and that’s never what this site was about:

    The first post I ever made was a rant about how moral/cultural superiorists turned an inoffensive ad for Bailey’s Irish Cream into something completely narratively nonsensical because they couldn’t deal with a woman kissing her three male friends on the mouth. The second was about the CEO of TYCO blowing tens of millions of dollars of company money on personal things, which I extrapolated into a piece on general abuses of money and power. Political rants have been here since the very beginning, and there are many who, from what I can tell based on comments and incoming links and things, enjoy reading them and get something out of them. Plus, it takes me maybe half an hour or forty-five minutes to write one up, edit it, proofread it and get it out the door, so they’re not as daunting as having to sit down and try to be hilarious for hours.

    In any event, you’re more than welcome — in fact, strongly encouraged — to express your disagreements with me in comment form. There’s no rule saying “Commenters may only agree with my posts” or anything. Anyone can sit comfortably in their own bubble of disagreement; what’s actually productive and challenging is confronting others and allowing their questions and concerns to poke and prod and probe at your beliefs and ideals, examining them and by interacting with them modifying them in either a strengthening or weakening way, even if so subtly as to be almost imperceptible. You can either try to learn something from debating others (and every experience changes us to some extent), or you can declare you already have everything all figured out and avoid disagreement. I’ve written a lot of stupid shit on this site and elsewhere over the last six or seven years, and I’m incredibly thankful that my views and ideas have evolved and shaped themselves over that time due to my interaction — agreement and argument — with others.

    So, what do you disagree with, and why? Hopefully I can tell you why I disagree with what you disagree with in a way that’s helpful in not necessarily changing your mind, but getting you to understand my perspective.

    Anyway, hope this has clarified things a little, and I’m sorry about the Dissections, but… time is my nemesis, and I really hate that mean motherfucker.

  3. Truth be told, not everything is democratic, no matter what the public’s stance on a particular issue is. For example, if the majority of the public decide that gay weddings are wrong (or, in the case of some, a sin), it is not necessarily true, and so there should not be a vote on that sort of issue.

    Why? Because it’s obvious that the “positive” stance is the only right one in cases such as this — cases that involve rights.

    Cases that involve political questions, such as the new leader of a country, or whether or not to integrate into a democratic bloc of nations, deserve a vote. Only cases such as this, however, despite what the politically correct brigade tell you.

    When I refer to the P.C. brigade, I mean those who are morally conservative and insist on pushing their morals on the public at large. This is independent of political stance. For example, those who wish to ban public smoking are morally conservative, but this does not make them politically right wing — this justification can come from either side of the political spectrum. The right will justify a ban because smoking can be a sin, but the left ALSO can, because smoking is bad for you and offends oyur body-spirits, or some rubbish.

    Another example of this: Stalin was far-left, pro-secular and anti-theist, but very morally conservative — he despised ‘Western decadence’. This sort of overly-precocious Nimbyism is found in both left- and right-wing groups, which often explains why they can be united despite political differences: they are both morally conservative in some areas.

    Thankfully, this means that they are all allied — the God-botherers, who would often be opposed to the left in America, are aligned WITH them in Britain, so it makes combatting this with realism a whole lot simpler. You only have to fire in one direction, not two.

    This is often what happens in countries with left-wing Governments: they align with a religious group to help support their views. For example, in Mao’s China, the Three Self Churches were constructed as a propaganda tool to snare spiritually hunger Chinese civilians. However, in the UK, this religious group already existed — it’s called the Church of England.

    Think about it! Not only is smoking bad for you, like your grand left-wing Government says, but it’s also a sin! And you’ll go to Hell! forever! to burn in a firey lake! of shit!

    So is driving a big car! Or eating meat! Or nuclear power!

    Thankfully, combatting far-left idiocy will also be the death of religious idiocy, since they are so paralleled along the lines of moral conservatism, even if it isn’t religiously-based. See what I mean? Heck, even when I was a fundamentalist Christian, I felt more at home with the left-wing moral conservatism that the Anglican Church and Lib Dems provided. I even saw the fundies of the Deep South as decidely un-Christian.

    Still, I realise that even this is bad — and sometimes worse — for it aligns the hypocrisy of many religious ‘leaders’ with the hypocrisy and double standards of man left wing principles.

    Not only that, but the typical one-rule-fits-all, textbook thinking of your average theist is brought into the equation as well. You know what I’m talking about: “If my Holy Book says it’s true, it is true regardless of anything!”

    In short, they apply this thinking to ANYTHING they say, har, do or see being done — if it’s in the book or on paper, it HAS to be followed REGARDLESS of the situation. For ANY aspect of life, not just religious beliefs, including law.

    So you have far left hypocrisy combined with religious hypocrisy, as well as religous textbook thinking. If this is how a Government thinks, then they will follow laws to the end, even without thinking about possible ‘grey areas”.

    As a result, they assume that “if laws (one type of truth) are democratic, then all truth is as well!” And, so, the politically correct idiots who think this way will ALLOW a vote on gay marriages or other rights issues, taking democracy to places where it shouldn’t exist.

    The far right imbeciles vote AGAINST it, and the rights issue runs the risk of being outlawed- eg., gay marriages being banned.

    This is how far-right fascist groups get power — the politically correct, far-left moral conservatives allow them to have their say. Their textbook thinking tells them that “democracy is for everyone, and som we HAVE to let the fascist groups have their say and accommodate for them as well!” without using any common sense and thinking that it wouldn’t be a good idea to accommodate Nazi and other fascist opinions just because democracy says so.

    They have no common sense or knowledge of grey areas. Maybe Panda Rosa falls into that group. I don’t know. But the ChuRch would certainly allow the bigots to have their say, “for the sake of free speech”. Go away, Rosa, and don’t come back until you’ve grown some common sense and a realism gland.

  4. For example, those who wish to ban public smoking are morally conservative, but this does not make them politically right wing — this justification can come from either side of the political spectrum. The right will justify a ban because smoking can be a sin, but the left ALSO can, because smoking is bad for you and offends oyur body-spirits, or some rubbish.

    Let me get this straight: you’re arguing that what you do in a public space, owned by the public is your business, and your business alone. Riiiight.

    By the same logic, would you also like to defend exhibitionism?

  5. Indeed, the smoking issue is an anomaly because it directly affects the health and / or comfort of those around you. Arguing for the “freedom” to smoke in an enclosed public space is akin (to me, at least) to fighting for the “freedom” to piss on random people in public, or the “freedom” to stick sharp objects in people.

    Frankly it annoys me that smokers try and jump on the “liberty” bandwagon, as though it’s some fundamental right. It’s not. And the reasoning is very simple — it’s not just a personal issue, it has direct physical effects on the people around you.

  6. Uncle Sparticus: I totally agree with your comment. The dissections are excellent but are obviously require quite a bit of time to complete. I enjoy all facets of this site, not just the dissections, as humorous and entertaining as they are.

    LM and RICHM: No one is talking about taking away one’s “right” or “freedom” to smoke. Most places which banned smoking have accommodated smokers by giving them an area to get their nic fix. As Rich M has commented, it is not a personal issue or a personal right. Smoking isn’t a private thing. Unfortunately, what is not personally consumed by you is absorbed by others. I have asthma. I cannot be around smoke because it triggers an asthma attack. Yes, I have the choice of going into an establishment or not because of the smoky environment. I have friends who are musicians and I enjoy their music and their company. Unfortunately, I can’t frequent the establishments in which they play because of the thick smoke. Don’t I have the right to go where I want and the right to breathe free? If one goes into a restaurant and totally gorges himself with food, that is his business and his right. If this individual then began to vomit all that he consumed onto others that is a violation of others rights. Your cigarettes and your smoking is your personal choice. Your smoke and the second-hand smoke you create in a violation of my right to breathe clean air. If I want to see and hear my friends band am I supposed to sit outside for hours or would it be more fair to have you go outdoors for a few minutes to enjoy your cigarette and return to the establishment?

  7. I don’t personally get some libertarian’s ideas that individual luxuries and pleasures, like smoking, trump the larger public’s health needs.

    Oh, wait, needingsun; the only justification is moral conservatism and concern over “oyur body-spirits, or some rubbish.” I guess you just gotta buck up and quit whining, because your luxury of surviving and not choking on toxic fumes is trumped by the smoker’s dire need to enjoy their harmless past time.

    Personally, I enjoy small cigars, and love to go on walks smoking them. I never do it in houses, bars, or restaurants. Partly because it’s now illegal here, but partly because I would no sooner blow smoke up someone’s ass than to watch pornography in front of them, and my rights to do don’t trump other people’s rights to not do. At least, in my liberal, anti-forced smoking, anti-forced sex opinion.

  8. Ugh, I accidentally used tongue-in-cheek nickname up on my previous comment…

    I don’t personally get some libertarian’s ideas that individual luxuries and pleasures, like smoking, trump the larger public’s health needs.

    Oh, wait, needingsun; the only justification is moral conservatism and concern over “oyur body-spirits, or some rubbish.” I guess you just gotta buck up and quit whining, because your luxury of surviving and not choking on toxic fumes is trumped by the smoker’s dire need to enjoy their harmless past time.

    Personally, I enjoy small cigars, and love to go on walks smoking them. I never do it in houses, bars, or restaurants. Partly because it’s now illegal here, but partly because I would no sooner blow smoke up someone’s ass than to watch pornography in front of them, and my rights to do don’t trump other people’s rights to not do. At least, in my liberal, anti-forced smoking, anti-forced sex opinion.

  9. @needingsun: How do you define what is the freedom to do something without disrespecting the freedom of another person to not receive the effects of your actions? Personally, I don’t believe smoking should be legislated in that way. Laws are usually rigid, and I really don’t like the idea of government dictating that someone can’t smoke in such places or being restricted to specific areas, specially because it doesn’t allow each place to determine whether or not they accept this kind of behavior. I think that bars, restaurants, nightclubs and others establishments should indicate if they’re “smoker friendly” or if they don’t allow smoking inside without strict laws telling them that they simply can’t. I’m not a free marker enthusiast and neither an adept of american libertarianism (while I believe that the current state is corporatism and not really free market, I’m not too fond of deregulation and lack of checking), but I think that each establishment should put its own set of rules regarding smoking, and therefore attract a targeted public (like some restaurants prohibiting it and having a more family-oriented policy, while others allowing it and letting customers enjoy it).

    I have a few friends who work in a bar near my house, and them (and a lot of customers) smoke like crazy. One of them even said that smoking makes his work easier because it relieves the stress.

    Anyway, I don’t think this kind of approach is more adequate, there must be some kind of degree of autonomy to the owners and dialogue to the customers.

  10. sr92: Great idea, in theory. However, the policy of letting restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, etc. determine for themselves whether or not to be smoker-friendly or smoke-free has been done (at least here in the UK, and I suspect everywhere else).

    I mean, *before* the smoking ban, there was no law *forcing* these places to accept smoking. They were always free to be voluntarily smoke-free. We had that exact policy you’re describing!

    What was the result? Virtually no smoke-free pubs and nightclubs. Even smoke-free restaurants were relatively rare. And anyone suggesting “smoke-free areas” needs a lesson in basic physics.

    I’d love there to be a choice of smoke-free locations for me to go on a night out, but that just doesn’t happen without laws to protect non-smokers. Sad, but true.

  11. Oh, and getting back on topic to Jabberwock’s original post — making any public enclosed space “smoke free” does NOT take away anyone’s right to smoke. They still can, they just have to wander outside for a couple minutes. Mildly inconvenient, sure, but perfectly practical.

    When all’s said and done, the stance to take if you genuinely value maximum liberty is to enforce smoke-free rules in enclosed public places (with the only exceptions being obvious places like tabacco shops, etc.)

  12. We have family-orientated establishments and smoker-friendly establishments but I guess us “whiners” or should I say “wheezers” who have nothing “friendly” have to either put up or shut up because we can’t be “HEALTH ORIENTATED”. My mother-in-law never smoked a day in her life yet she died from a disease caused by second-hand smoke from breathing near her husband for years. She could have gotten out of the car while he had a butt and walked a bit until he was done and he could have picked her up and continued their journey. I can hold my breath if I want to go out and listen to my friends’ band and run outdoors for air or maybe even wear a gas mask to listen but it sort of doesn’t go with the outfit and smears the make-up. Not pretty. If someone smokes it is perfectly acceptable yet if someone walked into an establishment and started misting the air with all of the toxic chemicals that are in ciggies and second-hand smoke they would be arrested for terrorism. If you want to inhale chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness and even impotence that is totally your choice but why is it socially acceptable for you to make this same choice for me? I don’t want this crap in my body but yet YOU are making the choice for me. Is that fair? I can ingest any number of things that society may say are toxins and dangerous but that is none of your business. I am hurting no one but me. Smokers are making the choice for themselves and everyone around them. It as as though they are saying “Fuck you! If you don’t like it, leave.” Isn’t that nice. It’s all about ME! FUCK YOU! I don’t do anything that causes you discomfort or pain or ill health, can’t you give me the same courtesy? Oh yes, the world isn’t like that and courtesy is dead. Thanks for that lesson.

  13. @needingsun

    …I hope that last comment isn’t directed at me, but I can’t tell.

    I wasn’t condemning you or non-smokers at all. I was using sarcasm, mocking “smoker’s rights” libertarians who kvetch about non-smoking, who frame the issue as if smoking were a human right and breathing a luxury. I was hoping using sarcasm to mock the “oppressed smokers” idea would instead point out how ridiculous it is, but I’m guessing it didn’t work as intended. Oh, well, my first impulse was to mock the argument for unrestricted public smoking by using it to support unrestricted public masturbation. I’m glad I didn’t go that route.

    I don’t believe in prohibition. However, I would accept a prohibition-style smoking ban sooner than I would support some pseudo-civil rights position holding that smokers are oppressed and require the right to spew asphixiating clouds on those who don’t want to avoid breathing it — or to breathe. Smokers should be able to smoke in areas where it won’t force unwilling people to smoke as well, but they need to not stop other people from breathing.

    Again, smoking is like porn. I believe I have a real right to choose to smoke, and a right to enjoy porn. I don’t have a right to light cigarettes in areas where people who don’t want to breathe it might be forced to, just as surely as I don’t have a right to enjoy porn on the public bus, or in the office, or in a synagogue.

    It sounds like only one commenter on this page believes smokers are being oppressed, and that those who don’t want to smoke have to right to avoid forced smoking in public places. That commenter may not even believe there are any negative effects of smoking. I’d like to hear them defend and explain in detail why a smoker’s desire to inhale a mix of chemicals should be given more respect than a non-smoker’s desire not to.

  14. Randy: I did get your sarcasm in your posts. Unfortunately, many people in the area where I live have the belief “if you don’t like it, leave” and “non-smokers are all a bunch of whiners”. I once was a smoker over 25 years ago. I smoked over a pack a day. I would do this strange thing before lighting up of asking those around me if it would bother them if I did. I would also respect their objections and move to an area so as not to offend. It was called courtesy. I would not smoke in restaurants, other people’s cars, homes, etc. unless they lit up as well. It’s just a matter of respect. Respect for others as well as one’s self seems to be lacking more and more. It’s becoming a sad world.

  15. I’m going to respond to these as soon as I can. Tomorrow, or something. That said, I find it odd that the smoking issue was the only thing that I mentioned that ended up being picked on — my point is much broader than that, and the smoking issue is just one example. Perhaps you didn’t read the whole post; please do.

    I’ll reiterate what I said when I respond later. But, for now, life beckons.

    Cough, hack, splutter.

  16. OK, that’s good, I’m a little unsure of myself, especially when my comments are slapdash and thrown together.

    I like to think the whole “Oppressed smokers have the civil right to change the air you breathe, and if you challenge this, you’re what’s wrong with society” is not a substantial movement, but just a self-absorbed conservative minority among smokers trying to simultaneously exploit and mock civil rights issues by trying to make smokers appear to be martyrs if they don’t have unlimited freedom to smoke indoors, anywhere the whim strikes. It makes me think of the “Obama is a secret Muslim” meme; most U.S. voters, including McCain voters, saw through it, but those who believed it or simply wanted to propagate it did their best to be squeaky wheels.

    I can also empathize with you about living near self-absorbed who hate those who disagree. I lived for five years in rural Pennsylvania, in an area that was 80% Republican. Which wasn’t a problem in itself, but so many folks actively condemned blacks, gays, Jews, women, etc. (Condemned is putting it charitably.) I got stalked one year, and fired a couple of years later, essentially because I was openly gay. I will never want to voluntarily return there (aside from maybe visiting specific people and places I have warm memories).

    …But then again, it would have been much harder for me 50 years ago. I guess the message is that things change, not always in a smooth flow, but in a whirling eddy that may move in one general direction, but with small backdrafts or backlashes that don’t stop the general flow.

    I guess I’ll give up on trying to make sense and just go to bed…

  17. Felis, the jist of your rant I’m getting is that sometimes liberals and conservatives team up together to work against individual liberties, which I would agree does happen occasionally. The specific example of smoking doesn’t seem to be fair to me, it does seem like condeming laws against public masturbation as being a leftist and right-wing conspiracy against individual self-expression, sexual freedom, and love itself. I mean, one could make that arguement, but I would find it only slightly less convincing.

    Or are you talking about your point that if a long time visitor of the site likes Dissections better than politics, she should just leave instead of giving and receiving feedback, as happened above?

    But yeah, I am interested to read a post of yours defending your position. Especially if it’s concise, avoids vitriol about those who disagree with you, sticks to reality more than speculaion, and avoids stooping to kvetching about the Church of England, Muslims, and the left to make a point.

  18. Well, I’m kinda of lost in here, I don’t know if some of these posts were directed at me or the concept itself, but anyway:

    @needingsun: I didn’t even MENTION something about smokers being oppressed, I just said that laws are usually pretty rigid and I don’t believe that’s the way the issue should be faced. In case you’re wondering, I have asthma myself (though I never suffered from a violent attack) and my aunt almost died from pneumonia because of her vice. I’m quite aware of the risks of smoking. However, I still don’t believe that we should put a ban for all establishments because the owners are perfectly capable of judging if they want it or not. I can understand that most of the time they don’t even care about watching it and that most places would adopt a “smoker friendly” position to attract customers, but the customers could indicate if they are happy or not with the policy adopted by the bars/restaurants/etc. I know that this also a matter of public health, so if everything else fails, perhaps a ban of smoking in public places is proven necessary, but I don’t agree this is exactly the case now.

  19. @Felis: I did read your entire post, and it was interesting. The reason I picked up on the smoking thing was your assertion that “… those who wish to ban public smoking are morally conservative”.

    I’m a loooong way from “morally conservative”, but I do strongly support a smoking ban in (enclosed) public spaces. My post was therefore a justification of why this isn’t a contradiction.

    For comparison, I also support legalisation/standardisation of drugs (i.e.: in the same way nicotine is legalised, standardised, controlled, and taxed), I think porn is great, and sex before marriage is totally fine. If no one is being forced to do anything they don’t want to do, then hell, go nuts. But that’s the problem — smoking in an enclosed public place *does* force people (i.e.: non-smokers) to do things they don’t want to do, yet it’s trivial for smokers to modify their habit so that this isn’t the case — just wander outside for two minutes.

    – – –

    @sr92: But how do non-smokers “indicate if they are happy or not” if they have virtually no choice? This was exactly the situation here in the UK before the smoking ban came into force. None (yes, zero!) of the many bars I went to were non-smoking, so there was nowhere I could ‘choose’ to go in order to indicate my preference. The only option would be to resign myself to a mundane social life and stay at home every weekend. Not exactly a realistic option.

    You’re essentially proposing a free-market solution to the problem, but that has been tried in many countries and it simply doesn’t work.

  20. sr92: If you read my comment, I didn’t mention the word “oppressed” either. You are saying that you virtually have no choice and you’d have to resign yourself to stay home. Sort of what us non-smokers have to do now, isn’t it? BUT you DO HAVE an option of going out to a non-smoking establishment and going outdoors when the mood or nic fit strikes and having a cig while we non-smokers have no choice but to not go to the establishment AT ALL. You really don’t see the difference here? In many states smoking in public places with the exception of casinos and cigar bars has been banned. At first it was met with much resistance but the businesses soon realized that the volume of people had not decreased in the slightest and the small inconvenience of smokers having to go outdoors was no big deal. I recently went to CT where smoking was banned in bars. It was wonderful!! They had a very nice covered area with seating at most bars for the smokers and us non-smokers were able to go out, have a few cocktails, listen to some good bands and actually breathe. What was nicer was being able to go home without smelling like the bottom of an ashtray. My hair still smelled of shampoo and my clothing of fabric softener. What a treat! Michigan is proposing the same ruling and I hope it passes. As I said before, I have asthma and it is no fun to have an attack so I avoid things that trigger attacks as much as I possibly can. I need my lungs and don’t want further damage. I live in Michigan and in my state alone there are on average 142 deaths per year due to asthma. I don’t want to become part of that statistic. I love life, my husband, my children and want to be around for my grandchildren one day. Call me selfish but your smoking could jeopardize that. Smoke if you want cause that’s your choice but don’t make the decision for me as well.

  21. Others have already made pretty good arguments, here, but I figured I’d throw in my $.02:

    The right to breathe always already supersedes the right to smoke. There are enough people with one or more of various sensitivities to cigarette smoke that allowing it in businesses effectively bans a large number of people from patronizing (and working at — bars and clubs are no different from any other work space, and often the only jobs a lot of people can get, and you really can’t expect businesses to police themselves in this matter or they already would be doing so and they’re not) those businesses. Smokers can always step outside for a smoke, but it’s hard for non-smokers and people with smoke sensitivities to have to step outside for every breath they have to take.

    In any event, you choose to smoke, you choose to deal with the consequences that accompany smoking, one of which is having to step outside for two goddamned minutes when you want to have a cigarette. It’s not like people are asking for kidneys, here. If you don’t want to step outside, don’t smoke. Nobody’s taking away your freedom — you can smoke all you want outside and on/in your own property. Just because you can’t have sex in the middle of a bar, it doesn’t mean people have “taken away your right” to have sex, and just because you can’t shit in the middle of a bar, it doesn’t mean people have “taken away your right” to go to the bathroom.

    Grow up. :rolleyes:

  22. Lotsa stuff here. I just came in here to suggest a possible conservative rejoinder to the actual main body of the post, about conservatives and mandates: they “learned” from 2004, when they got their mandate and promptly got dropkicked out of Congress two years later.

    Truth be told, not everything is democratic, no matter what the public’s stance on a particular issue is. For example, if the majority of the public decide that gay weddings are wrong (or, in the case of some, a sin), it is not necessarily true, and so there should not be a vote on that sort of issue.

    Why? Because it’s obvious that the “positive” stance is the only right one in cases such as this — cases that involve rights.

    If it were “obvious”, the majority of the public wouldn’t disagree with it. Why? BECAUSE IT WOULD BE OBVIOUS!!!

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