Thursday, November 11, 2004

With Friends Like These...

One of the most important post-election issues is the Democratic Party's future. Already, there's a chorus of influential Democrats who want to give in on important issues in order to appeal to Middle America. As expected, one of the early memes here is to throw homosexuals aside because same sex marriage is a losing issue. Albert R. Hunt, the lone, regularly published left wing voice on the Wall Street Journal's Op-Ed page offered a couple of insights today that need some counter-commentary from the left side of the spectrum.

Hunt writes: "...more than a few voters in strategically important places, like Ohio, came away thinking John kerry was for gay marriage when he wasn't."

I don't dispute Hunt's facts here. He's probably right. But, what I think really hurt Kerry was not that people thought he was for gay marriage, it was that both he and Edwards sounded like idiots talking about the issue. Kerry and Edwards wanted to, uh, have it both ways. They didn't want to alienate their base by seeming homophobic, and they wanted to capture votes in Middle America by being against same sex marriage. Intellectually, I think both Kerry and Edwards are smart enough to realize that the issue is stupid to begin with and I'm willing to bet that, were they to reveal their thoughts in private conversation they would wonder "Who the heck cares if two men or two women get married." But, they didn't say that. Instead, they took what they thought was a politically expedient position and they looked like a couple of waffling liars doing it.

I suspect that Kerry and Edwards both know that they're on the wrong side of morals and history with their states position on this topic. I think that's why their ability to defend and articulate this position was pretty weak. I also think that looking weak was far more of a hindrance to Kerry than any of his positions were. People voted on image in 2004, not policy. And, really, they usually do.

Now, Hunt goes on to write: "When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom publicly conducted thousands of Gay marriages, it afforded the Democratic nominee a Sister Souljah opportunity, a chance for moral outrage, not at gays, but at a public official for flouting the law. It never occurred."

Quickly, I'll argue that it never occurred because, as I surmised above, I think Kerry's too smart to have really believed his official position on this issue. But, more important, Hunt's a smart and influential guy who basically advocated "moral outrage" at same sex marriages in San Francisco. Sure, he says the outrage should be directed at a mayor who flouted the law and not the homosexual community. But, that's really a dodge, isn't it? Wasn't the Mayor of San Francisco elected? Why, I think he was! Now, do you think an elected official would do something like perform same sex marriages if the community that elected him would object? I don't think he would. Newsom represented the people of his city. He wasn't flouting the law, he was acting in a democratic fashion, something too few politicians do these days.

And, let's be honest -- had Kerry or Edwards shown moral outrage, even if they phrased the outrage in Hunt's clever way, would the typical American take it that way, or would they take it as the Democrats criticizing the homosexual community? You probably don't have to think long to come to the obvious answer on that. And, of course, that's the answer. Because what Hunt wants is to criticize an unpopular minority without seeming like he's doing so.

Honestly, it's worth losing elections to be right. Let's no forget the death of segregationist George Wallace, a man who had to use his last breaths to apologize for his vigorous defense of an attitude that society abandoned. How many politicians will have to spend their final moments offering a Wallacian apology?

I don't care if this issue is popular or not. We have to support it because its a civil rights issue. When you think about it, there's never been a civil rights opponent who was vindicated by history. They've all, in retrospect, looked like fools or worse.


At 10:38 AM , Blogger tifanie said...

Very good rebuttal, my friend. I couldn't agree with you more. Hey, when are you going to start a personal blog? I miss your silly side.


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