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The last week saw the culmination of one of the longest struggles in American political history: the pro-life movement and the Republican Party's successful quest to overturn Roe v. Wade. We've published some pieces that we feel are worth your time, in trying to understand the changes Roe's demise will bring to the American political landscape.
As is our wont at Wisdom of Crowds (see our about us page), we're not interested in polemics or convincing you over to a particular side. It's probably too late for that, in any case. We do think that the debate over Roe is a perfect distillation of why it's never been more important to understand the role of ideas in politics and how they come to be. How do people come to believe what they claim to believe? This requires digging down into first principles—the deep and often unrealized assumptions that orient our perception of the world.
In early May, we recorded a podcast episode with Time's Molly Ball on how the end of Roe v. Wade may (0r may not) change American politics—and what it will mean for such a divisive issue to be exposed to the vicissitudes of democracy.
Is this what democracy is for? Or will subjecting rights to democratic bargaining reveal the weaknesses of the democratic idea? The subscribers-only portion of the podcast expands on the discussion, with Shadi, Damir, and Molly debating what the decision will mean for "legitimacy"—that notoriously slippery concept—as well as for liberal notions of progress.
That same week, we published an essay by Shadi, exploring how abortion exposes the deep and dynamic relationship between politics and religion. Conservative Christians weren't always pro-life. They became pro-life. It is important to understand why, and to track what was a slow but unmistakable cultural and religious revolution. American Christianity as we know it was changed. In this sense, theologies are not timeless. They change, adapt, and morph into something new.
This "updated theology—emphasizing the ensoulment of the fetus—drove and fueled conservative activism in turn," Shadi argues. But newness hardly entails made-up. Just because something is created or manufactured doesn't make it any less real. It becomes just as real as anything else.
Finally, this week, Damir chimed in with an argument about the less-than-helpful role that rights have played in our domestic discourse.
Damir isn't so sure that the GOP will be able to moderate the maximalist demands of its pro-life constituency.
The pro-life movement may be new, at least compared to our major political parties and institutions. But this week, we all felt the reality and sheer force of its convictions. And whatever side you happen to find ourself on (or perhaps no side at all), it is a reality we will grapple with for years to come.
At Wisdom of Crowds, we hope we can provide a different method of approaching contentious issues. There is a place for anger and disappointment—or perhaps joy and triumph—but there is a place for contending and wrestling with the power of ideas, including our own.
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