For the past two months, there has been a very specific political sign littering my neighborhood, and it makes me see red. I can’t drive past it without yelling at the owners of the lovely two-story houses with their dogs, stopped by an invisible fence, barking at me as I clench the steering wheel.
The yard signs proclaim that Proposal 3—the state ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights into Michigan’s constitution—is “CONFUSING. EXTREME.”
These signs, and the TV ads that call Prop 3 “too confusing and too extreme,” are plainly wrong. But I’m terrified they’ll be effective.
The measure itself is simply not extreme. It arguably doesn’t go far enough to protect abortion rights because it would essentially put Michigan back to where it was before a 1931 state law got resurrected by the end of Roe v. Wade. That 1931 law is extreme—it bans almost all abortions and punishes abortion providers.
But the accusation that Prop 3 is extreme is being used by a lot of its opponents, including Catholic leaders. According to Bridge Michigan, pastors have sent letters, used Facebook videos, and gone door to door to attack Prop 3. Given that a majority of people believe that abortion should be legal, calling the proposal extreme instead of saying all abortions should be banned is a clever and potentially fatal move.
Still, it’s the “too confusing” part that worries me even more.
Everyone is tired. This year has been a decade. Nobody reads anymore, and the world is in flames. It’s so easy to dismiss something as “too confusing” and end there. Telling people that they might need to do a spot of research is an easy out. It’s a terrible reason to not vote or to vote no, but I’m terrified that it will be effective, especially given that the opposition has spent millions of dollars persuading people that this “confusing” measure needs to be a no.
All this doesn’t even touch on the fact that saying something is both too confusing and too extreme defies logic. You have to understand something in order to know that it’s extreme; therefore, it’s not confusing. Or so I yell at those dogs barking at me on my way to the local polling station to vote yes.