Maybe you’ve been accused of wasting your time on a soft political issue when there are “bigger problems” in the world. There are no “soft” political issues. Know why? Because if somebody cares enough about it to march in the streets, post about it on social media or put a sign in their front yard, it’s probably touched them on a deeply personal level.
There are no soft issues because we’re all in this together, and what hurts some of us hurts all of us. You may find some inspiration below for the next time you need to make the case that one person’s fringe issue is somebody else’s life-and-death.
LGBT Rights and Gender Identity
One of the most obvious places to start on our tour through political issues that are anything but soft is LGBT rights. Even some self-identified liberal politicians have some catching up to do when it comes to rights for human beings who identify as something other than heteronormative. It’s not okay that most states in the ostensibly welcoming land we call America still legally allow discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.
And as far as gay marriage is concerned — which some political nobodies still can’t believe is settled law — this is not an issue that exists in a vacuum. Currently, every straight person in America may marry any other straight person of their choosing. Extending this right to those who don’t identify as straight is not a special legal boondoggle or a frivolity — it’s equal rights, plain and simple.
How could that ever be a “soft issue?”
Funding Planned Parenthood
Access to timely medical assistance, rendered by a trained professional in a clean, well-equipped, conveniently located facility should not be a luxury purchase. It should not be something that only affluent people enjoy. It should, in point of fact, be recognized as an inalienable human right. Can we make it any plainer than that? The United Nations has already done so, in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The U.S. signed that document — we just don’t act like it.
That so much of the developed world recognizes basic healthcare as a human right makes it particularly disturbing that Republicans always seem to target women’s healthcare infrastructure when it comes time to either make the budget work or shut down the damn government.
It’s true — Planned Parenthood’s target demographic is largely women who are pregnant, want to become pregnant or who don’t wish to be pregnant any longer. But if you believe for an instant that abortions are their bread and butter, you’ve been lied to. Abortions represent a tiny percentage of the services provided by Planned Parenthood:
Specifically targeting Planned Parenthood clinics — when every dollar invested in family planning programs saves taxpayers seven bucks and when, in some parts of the country, Planned Parenthood is literally the only source for competent and affordable healthcare and family planning services — has absolutely nothing to do with “fiscal responsibility” or bringing the federal deficit to heel.
Eliminating the Confederate Flag and Other Iconography With “Baggage”
Finally: A brief word on a topic that even some liberals wave off as a soft political issue. The Confederate flag has generated quite a bit of controversy over the last couple of years. For many in New England, it was enough to make them ask: “Is that still a thing?”
Yes, it’s still a thing. Folks still want you to believe waving the flag is about “states’ rights,” but that’s not true — at all. The leaders of the Confederacy admitted their actions during the Civil War were explicitly about slavery — not states’ rights.
We shouldn’t need a history lesson to get to the bottom of why flying this flag on government property is not something that needs to be done in the year 2017 or any other year. The flag is an open wound, and it’s time to stitch it up.
I get that there’s a delicate balance here where freedom of speech is concerned. For my part, I believe the only official punishment you deserve for flying this flag at home is the well-deserved contempt of your neighbors. Nobody should be taking it from you by force. Just — have some class, would you? And take a remedial history class while you’re at it.
Let’s All Be Friends
In closing, don’t be dismissive about other people’s hot-button political issues. You’ve almost certainly got plenty of your own. But by learning to talk cogently and calmly about why certain issues hit as hard as they do, we can start to bridge our partisan divide and find our way back to some much-needed common ground.
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