The PN: left, right and centre
Many Europeans must have woken up with a sigh of relief last Wednesday with the news of the re-election of Barack Obama as US President for another four years. Not because he did everything right in the past four years but because the alternative was, to put it mildly, too uncertain.
The problem with Mitt Romney was whether he actually believed that what he was proposing is the right path for the US or whether he was just saying the things that assured him of the Republican nomination for President.
Indeed, his stances in the presidential electoral campaign contrasted with the bipartisan way he ran Massachusetts as its Governor, even to the extent of pioneering what was practically the model of ‘Obamacare’ on a state level.
Romney’s giving in to the pressures of the fundamentalist sectors within the Republican Party – notably the so-called ‘Tea Party’ – in order to secure his nomination in the end proved his undoing.
The ‘explanation’ that his fiscal policies – which simply consisted of less taxation for the rich – were not to be taken literally as they were dished to persuade the fundamentalists who vote in the Republican primaries, was untenable.
The right-left divide in Europe is quite different from that in the US. For Europeans, describing Obama as a Marxist socialist because he took steps to give health coverage to the over 40 million US citizens who had none is complete poppycock. Yet this is what the fundamentalists among the Republicans really believe, while for Europeans Obama corrected what was a scandalous disregard of humankind.
All political parties have vociferous fundamentalist wings, and those parties that become enslaved by these minority groups end up driving straight into a concrete wall. This is what happened to Romney.
Meanwhile, in Malta, we also have our two main political parties being hampered by their own fundamentalists. Talk of a new Labour government going back to the economics of the Mintoff era and boasting of the ‘achievements’ of that way of doing things does untold harm to Labour.
Joseph Muscat sometimes seems to be struggling with saying that different times need different solutions without alienating the fundamentalists within his party.
After coming across as a fundamentalist conservative party during the divorce referendum campaign, the PN tried to reinvent itself as being more liberal than its small core of fundamentalists would like it to be. In November last year it approved an unequivocal political update (Our Roots) to assure everybody that the fundamentalists are not calling the shots. Incidentally, Simon Busuttil had more than a hand in its drawing up and approval.
At the time I had commented that the PN was attempting to dust the stables and convince everyone – especially its disgruntled voters – that it is still a forward-looking modern political party. I had also predicted that “the next issue, about which the PN has to decide in the light of its belief in the separation between Church and State, is the regulation of IVF through legislation that should be based on scientific, rather than on narrow moral considerations”. Today it is legitimate to ask whether in proposing the new law that regulates IVF without mentioning IVF, the PN has succumbed to the pressures of its fundamentalists.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Labour MP Michael Farrugia criticised one interesting aspect of the proposed law: the setting up of an ‘Authority for the Protection of the Embryo’, a five-man committee of medical and bioethical specialists who will also be certifying prospective parents as to whether they are eligible for IVF.
Farrugia criticised harshly the very idea that a State authority would be deciding whether a couple should be allowed to undergo fertility treatments or not, saying that this aspect of the law was a ‘Big Brother’ stance that undermines the medical professional.
I perceived quite a dose of historical irony in the news that a Labour spokesman attacked the PN for a ‘Big Brother’ attitude and for undermining the medical profession. Judging by my political compass, it does seem as if left has become centre and centre has become extreme right. Is my political compass old and rusty or have the two parties veered from their ideological positions?
While every man can put his sperm near any woman’s egg within her body, with the State supporting the ‘product’ whenever necessary, a couple would have to ask for the State’s endorsement to place the man’s sperm near his wife’s egg if the rendezvous of the meeting is outside the wife’s body.
For me this is an unacceptable intrusion of the personal dignity that each citizen has a right for and we expect the PN to defend.
While there are other aspects of this law that I do not consider myself competent and qualified enough to comment about, I consider this State-imposed humiliation as flying in the face of the PN’s core beliefs.
Are the fundamentalists still pulling the strings, in spite of all the good intentions behind the PN’s policy document approved barely 12 months ago?