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April 01, 1980 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-01
Note:
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Page 8-Sunday, March W 1980-The Michigan D

9

U U

7W

S

contraception

U

C'

" (Continued from Page 7)
What he fails to point out is that over $300 million of
oral contraceptives are sold every year. Syntex alone
has yearly sales in the $30 million range. Furthermore,
about half of the sales are to the United States Agency
for International Development, which then distributes
the Pill in foreign countries.
Still, Djerassi's support of the Pill and the phar-
maceutical industry gives the reader an important in-
sight. Ask a technologist how to tackle problems with
technical, social, cultural and political dimensions-as
the controversy over birth control and world
population growth has-and you will get technological
solutions. It's as if some invention can be discovered
which will make all other ramifications of the issue
disappear.
Even more distressing is Djerassi's insensitivity to
women. His chapters on future prospects for male and
female contraception include frequent and flagrant
examples of sexism. In one interesting passage, he
quotes Drs. Marian Diamond and Carol Korenbrot
from their book on contraception, in which they note

that the development of male contraceptives has been
hampered because of the threat to men's libido.
Meanwhile, women report adverse affects on their.
libido without hindering the use of the birth control pill.
Djerassi's response: "One must agree with the im-
peccable logic of Drs. Diamond and Korenbrot, but I
must point out that a woman with reduced libido can
still participate in sexual intercourse, while a man
unable to get an erection is unquestionably in worse
shape."
He staunchly defends the male libido from chemi-
cal attack, despite acknowledging the "enor-
mous" psychological component associated with
sexual potency in the male. Djerassi reasons that if
"men were primarily responsible for developing the
female contraceptive pill, perhaps it is only fair to wait
for women scientists to develop the first male libido
enhancer."
Djerassi is clearly prejudiced against development
of contraceptive methods for men. In introducing
discussion of a valve that was suggested as a way to
achieve reversible vasectomy, he observes that sim-

ply reading about how the device works will "terrify"
some men. In another example, research into a male
pill is called "theoretically interesting," while in-
vestigation of the analogous hormonal system in
women is "exciting."
Elsewhere, he criticizes of "the overriding concern
regarding female hormonal contraceptives (as a)
possible link to cancer." But when the discussion turns
to men, the risk of cancer gives him pause in recom-
mending this avenue of research.
This is meant to illustrate that The Politics of Con-
traception is a political document in its own right.
Djerassi appears to be writing with policy makers and
journalists in mind, rather than the average reader
looking for unbiased guidance.
But this does not make reading the book a waste of
time. Just-don't expect a critical evaluation of birth
control. What can be expected is an attempt to per-
suade the reader that the complex issues of fertility
control. can best be handled by giving the phar-
maceutical industry a freer rein, compliments of the
taxpayers.

l !

w............

I

The party'~s over.

primaries

(Continued from Page 4)
passe. The case of Jimmy Carter's
struggle with his own House of
Representatives over decontrol and gas
rationing was not an extreme one. Un-
fortunately, that show of mutiny was
more the rule than the exception in the
Carter presidency. Washington Post
political reporter Bill Peterson once
referred to Jimmy Carter as "the Rod-
ney Dangerfield of American politics."
From the members of his own party,
the president just don't get no respect.
Britain's Margaret Thatcher or West
Germany's Helmut Schmidt would
never have been so embarrassed by
such a blatant display of party
disloyalty. li parliamentary systems,
the chief of government could never
have attained that position. unless she
or her had at least a ma-
jority coalition.. So in those
parliamentary systems, the legislation
gets passed. Mrs. Thatcher or Mr.
Schmidt can always rely on their party
to vote as a bloc. When the prime
minister loses that majority, and the
government can no longer function, the
leader is thrown out on a vote of con-
fidence and replaced by one who can
muster a legislative base of support.
That is precisely what happened when
Mr. Clark of Canada was ousted last
month.
In this country, the government is not
functioning. The President has over-
whelming majorities in both legislative
houses, but he gets virtually nothing
done. And in terms of progressive or in-
novative legislation, like comprehen-
sive national health insurance, the
president all but concedes it has no
chance of passing Congress. This is a
sad indictment of our system of non-
government.
The theory of party reform to end
such problems is an old one, with its
roots in the academic writings of
Woodrow Wilson. In 1950, a group of
eminent political scientists sat down to
work out a coherent theory of how best
to reform American government by
reforming the political parties. The
work of the committee is embodied in
its report, Toward A More Responsible
Two-Party Syystem, the bible of the
Constitutional reformists.
Simply put, the reformists suggest
that to end government impasse the two
political parties must be revitalized.
Parties must be based on the premise
that the electorate should be offered
two radically distinct systems from
which to choose.,
Parties would campaign on specific
policy commitments, and the election

would then be interposed as a mandate
to move the country in a specific direc-
tion. This implies that the leader's par-
ty would automatically get a legislative
majority.
Critics of the party reform system
will readily point out that American
government was meant to be slow to
change. And the current autonomy and
cumbersome pace of the legislative
branch makes it necessary for any
president to build a national consensus
of support across party lines for his
programs, instead of using his electoral
victory as a mandate to leap headfirst
into sweeping social change.
B UT GOVERNMENT BY consen-
sus is government by com-
promise, and as the Jimmy Car-
ter experience has shown, trying to
walk a tightrope between the country's
various political factions usually means
stalemate and ineffectiveness. Carter
himself said the energy crisis is real,
and to come to grips with our energy
problems requires bold, imaginative
leadership. Instead, the president
seems most concerned that he not of-
fend any one side with drastic
proposals. His solutions so far to the
"moral equivalent of war" have been
tardy and timid.
What the political parties need now is
a dose of old-fashioned discipline to
whip unruly members into line. And the
key to whipping the party into line
means first making sure that the
presidential nominee-who may even-
tually become the president-is first
and foremost the leader of his party,
and not a Jimmy-come-lately through,
the ranks. The primary election system
is valuable in testing potential
nominees for personal popularity and
vote-getting ability. But the system
needs a stop-gap, some fail-safe
mechanism that strikes some respon-
sible balance between the old, closed
system of the past and the current
unruly system. (One need only remem-
ber that in 1972, George Wallace was
well on his way to becoming the
Democratic party's nominee because of
the primary system--and Wallace was
wholely unqualified for the presiden-
cy).
Jimmy Carter based his appeal to the
1976 primary electorate on
promises-promises which have been
left largely unfulfilled. His appeal
worked, if only because the electorate
did not have the capacity to judge
whether this Washington Outsider
would actually have the resources to be

able to keep those promises. Had there
been some role for the party leaders in
the selection process-a role that need
not replace the primary system en-
tirely-the nation may have been
spared four years of inaction, impasse,
and malaise.
On November 23, 1976, just two weeks
after he defeated Gerald Ford for the
nation's highest office, President-elect
Jimmy Carter went a-callin' to the
Congressional Democratic leaders in
Washington. Carter met with O'Neill,
the newly-elected House speaker, and
Robert Byrd, the Senate majority
leader. In a whirlwind day of meetings

he had been a campaigner. Indicative
of the initial receptiveness to Carter,
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey
remarked after the Carter visit: "It's
been a long time since I've heard talk
like that."
Since then, Carter's relations with his
Congress have slid steadily downhill.
After eight years of divided gover-
nment, a government of veto, a
Democratic president and a
Democratic Congress had promised to
get the nation moving again. The
balloon of euphoria soon burst, however
as the White House adopted the same
bunker-style atmosphere that charac-

GeOr eUh~~
FOR PRESIDENT

and conferences with Democrats, the
president-elect, whom most of his
colleagues had never met, promised a
new era of cooperation and harmony
betweenthe White House and Congress.
"I will be consulting in an almost un-
precedented way with congressional
leaders on major pieces of legislation in
the embryonic stages," Carter said.
The new Democratic president-elect
dazzled the leaders of his party.
Perhaps this outsider wasn't so bad af-
ter all. Perhaps this unknown, who took
over the -party through the primary
process, would indeed make as good a
president and as good a party leader as

terized the Republican ad-
ministrations. In terms of effective
government, of moving the legislature
in a specific direction, Jimmy Carter
was no more effective than Gerald
Ford.
The only real hope for the country
now lies in learning from the Carter ex-
perience, and revitalizing the two-party
system. Unless, and until, there is
responsible party government, the
malaise will continue. And Carter's
"crisis of confidence" will be in our
system of government and our political
parties, not in the hearts and minds of
Americans.

Sundagj,
Co-editors
Elisa Isaacson RJ Smith
Asociate editor Adrienne Lyons
Cover photograph by Peter Serling

The Citizens' Party
tests the water
Supplement to The Michigan Daily

Masculine tech
and the Pill

Keep your e
off the tabk

Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sunday, March 30, 1980
.s i + .! 4 *.,4 .t p ._ r?, SX':- # i** '#cif1i .S *kt *. t g ~

I-

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