Political Ideology vs Morality
We tend to say 'don't label me', but then embrace the label we like - liberal, conservative, libertarian, independent, moderate, etc. However, all of these fail to outline what is moral behavior...aside from meeting the tenets of that label.
Conservatives are supposed to favor the rule of law. However, in this case, the law clearly says that when an incapacitated person does not have any written directives for what to do with them, their spouse makes the decisions. Period. The legal answer in this case is that Mrs. Schiavo dies, as her husband desires.
Liberals are supposed to favor doing "whatever helps people", at least according to Mark. He calls it 'pragmatism', but I don't find that any less of an ideology. Anyway, if it is 'whatever helps people', and the government is involved (like most 'liberal' ideas), then as there are medical experts and 17 disability advocacy groups who are putting their weight into an argument that Mrs. Schiavo can have some recovery, clearly this line of reasoning should be to 'help' Mrs. Schiavo and give her nourishment and therapy.
As we all know, generally both sides say exactly the opposite of what their normal ideology requires. Why is that? Why do modern day liberals who want government intervention in nearly every aspect of life say that the G should back off? Why do conservatives deny the validity of longstanding law and ask for governmental intervention?
It's simple - it's a moral question, not a legal one.
You can tell the true organizations of political ideology and policy. Take the Cato Institute. Many feel they are a conservative think-tank, while they would describe themselves as libertarian - and they are. Do you know how you can tell? They have no position on abortion. Why not? The libertarian view can be applied to either case - either the unborn baby is not a human and the decision is exclusively that of the mother (how can you be a mother without a baby? Never mind), or the unborn baby is a human, and its individual rights can not be trampled on by another simply because it cannot express itself. What keeps the balance from tilting is that the decision of whether the baby is a person or not is NOT a libertarian-influenced decision. It is moral, perhaps scientific, but is totally without influence in the realm of libertarian thought. Therefore, libertarian ideals are NOT moral ideals...nor are any other political ideals.
The law does not even consider the likelihood that the spouse would NOT have the best interests of the incapacitated person at heart. Good freaking grief, the divorce rate is over 50%, people don't have the best interests of each other at heart at least that often! Think about it - no matter what the details are, divorce is always a result of at least one (and often both) spouse's unwillingness to put the other person's needs ahead of their own. So why the heck should the law assume that it would be that way for someone who can't express themselves? Mr. Schiavo, through his cohabitation with another woman, while still 'married' to Terri, and fathering of two children with this other woman, coupled with his wholesale refusal to have any therapy conducted on Terri, has shown that he is NOT operating with Terri's best interests at heart (did you know he waited 8 years to 'remember' that Terri allegedly told him not to keep her alive??).
According to the law, as correctly interpreted, Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube should be removed. I think it will stay that way, and she will die. However, it's a bad law. The constitution specifically says that the government exists to provide for the general welfare of the citizenry. It is this same line that is used to justify myriad government programs to 'help' people who need it. It certainly should be used to craft the set of laws that protect the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves.
I have noted that the libertarians have stuck to their guns on this one, for the most part. The flip flops by the others are more due to their dual moral-political classifications. ‘Liberals’ are also more morally liberal, and have less qualms with whacking folks who can’t vote…as long as they are not in another country. ‘Conservatives’ tend to be morally conservative, and favor protecting those who don’t have a voice…unless they are in another country. Get it?
I’m a Christian, not any of the above. Hence my seeming paradox.