Conservatives oppose the authoritarians
The cynical use by the US Republican Party of the Terri Schiavo case repeats, whether deliberately or accidentally, the tactics of Muslim fundamentalists and theocrats in places like Egypt and Pakistan. These tactics involve a disturbing tendency to make private, intimate decisions matters of public interest and then to bring the courts and the legislature to bear on them. President George W. Bush and Republican congressional leaders like Tom Delay have taken us one step closer to theocracy on the Muslim Brotherhood model.
The Muslim fundamentalists use a provision of Islamic law called "bringing to account" (hisba). As Al-Ahram weekly notes, "Hisba signifies a case filed by an individual on behalf of society when the plaintiff feels that great harm has been done to religion." Hisba is a medieval idea that had all be lapsed when the fundamentalists brought it back in the 1970s and 1980s.
In this practice, any individual can use the courts to intervene in the private lives of others.
The New York Times notes that traditional conservatives are waking up to the new conservatism's real agenda, noting that the G.O.P. Right Is Splintered on Schiavo Intervention:
This is a clash between the social conservatives and the process conservatives, and I would count myself a process conservative," said David Davenport of the Hoover Institute, a conservative research organization. "When a case like this has been heard by 19 judges in six courts and it's been appealed to the Supreme Court three times, the process has worked - even if it hasn't given the result that the social conservatives want. For Congress to step in really is a violation of federalism."
When the process conservatives realize that they'll be up against the wall after the social conservatives get through with the liberals, libertarians, gays, and scientists, some interesting alliances will form. Even David Brooks is getting in on the act.
Oh, there they are. The ACLU, Bob "B-1 Bob" Barr, Grover Norquist (Americans for Taxpayer Reform, who wants to drown the government in the bathtub), Paul Weyrich (Free Congress Foundation)David Keane (American Conservative Union), and leaders of various Second Amendment groups, including the Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the Second Amendment Foundation, and the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons have all joined together in a growing coalition called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. I bet that group of people have never been in a room together without throwing things at each other. Nevertheless, there they all are, working to overturn John Ashcroft's Executive powergrab.
Hope springs eternal.