It's the Intolerance, Stupid!
by Bad Cop Brendan
First of all, fuck this "broad victory" shit. If you want to see what a broad victory looks like, try 1972
and even 1992
. Bush received about 3 percent more votes than Kerry. That's it.
The American people have spoken, and 51% of them have decided that this
is just fine and dandy.
Large chunks of the world -- some of which are very, very consequential for us -- are sure to see the election through this angle. And I'm sure people like Osama Bin Laden will be more than happy to remind them. Oh wait, he wanted Kerry
to win. My mistake.
But from the looks of it, the 2004 election may have been decided by a form of consensual
sexual activity. So say CNN's exit polls
According to the voter breakdown that CNN is currently hawking, the top reason that Bush voters gave for supporting their guy was not the economy, not Iraq, not even the war on terrorism. It was "moral values." That's right, with American soldiers dying overseas, Al Qaeda still gunning for us at home, the deficit spiraling, the gap between rich and poor growing, Social Security on the brink, etc., etc., Bush's reelection was driven by a bunch of folks freaked out over the thought of gay marriage and stem-cell research.
God save the republic.
You know, some people are going to sit in front of microphones or computers and talk/type about how Bush overcame the obstacle of a liberal media, or "the MSM", to win re-election. They'll do it, and I can't stop them.
But how the fuck can the media really be liberal if they keep using the phrase "moral values", when the obvious meaning of those words is "anti-gay"?
Yes, it appears that young Americans, while their turnout numbers were strong, did not turn out dramatically higher than in past years proportionally
. But shit: If you're a Bush-voter, I hope you're damn happy that you voted for a candidate whose campaign strategy's centerpiece was to court the vote of ignorant, unreformed bigots.
I am not a religious man, but I have respect for religion and spirituality. I know that the majesty of one's belief in a higher power cannot be quantified (see Barack Obama's convention speech, notably his invokation of "an awwwe
some God" and "belief in things unseen"). Religion is not the problem in America. The Bible specifically condemns things like wet dreams ("seed that chanceth him by night"), but such condemnations are no longer operative among Americans, religious or otherwise. Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible (Leviticus), yet many among America's evangelically religous circles hold on to these condemnations, and even vote based on them.
(I'm going to put the next paragraph in bold, just because)
The greatest crime of the Republican Party in this regard is that they have, in large part, welded together bigotry with religion, thereby absolving the bigotry in the eyes of the mainstream. They've even tricked the American media into calling it "moral values".
(Coupled with that, the greatest mistake of the Democratic party in this regard is to let them do it. Every liberal I've seen on campus and elsewhere who bemoans the "christian right" and George W Bush "the religious nut" is feeding the Republicans' ability to associate themselves with "religion", particularly "Christianity", and mask the prejudices of many of their party members within it.)
The above welding was Karl Rove's ace in the hole last night, the added factor that put his guy, George Bush, over the top in the election. The evangelical gay-haters did not turn out for "compassionate conservative" Dubya in 2000, but they came out in droves for the "fag-hating, Abu Ghraib conservative" Dubya yesterday.
I'm willing to put good money down that there's a lot of overlap between those who vehemently oppose same-sex marriage and those who weren't outraged by the torture at Abu Ghraib. (by us, that is) The ideological descendents of Puritan witch-burners are sure to be suckers for a little sexual humiliation.
What's the solution to this for the future? I don't know, I'm a bad cop, solutions aren't my game, yelling at motherfuckers is.
...Okay, okay, fine, I'll give you a solution, but because I'm a bad cop, I'll try and keep it rude.
For the good of the Democratic Party, and for that matter America, we need to perform open-heart surgery on religion, and extract the bigotry from it. Since being coopted by the Republican Party, religion as a political concept has been taken over, body-snatcher style, by the virus of hatred, bigotry and ignorance present in many conservatives, particularly in the south. The secret isn't just Rove's evangelical vote, it's also the association: Just
enough fair-minded Christians, who are otherwise tolerant people, identify with the packaging of Bush as "a good Christian man of faith" and unwittingly endorse an agenda of intolerance.
These are people who can be trimmed from the Republican slate with just a little political effort. I'm not yet going into how
we go about separating the intolerance from the religion and call out the intolerance, but it's something we must do.
One suggestion I would give to the Democrats is to further secularize the issue of reproductive rights. The Democrats have clung so hard to the choice issue that they have contributed to it becoming a dynamic of "choice versus the religious right", and by advantageous simplification (for Republicans), "choice versus religion". Remove it from its religious context, and one of the consequences is that religion, as a concept, has less of a side
in the issue. I'm not
encouraging the Democrats putting forth anti-choice candidates and confirming anti-choice Justices. I'm saying, from top to bottom, don't target the religion, target the intolerance.
Getting back to Rove's "Intolerance to 51!" coaltion... In the long run, I, the bad cop, am very
happy with yesterday's results. You see, for the extent that the Falwells and Ralph Reeds are problematic entities in our political process, they are helpless to stop the overarching trend: America is becoming more individually tolerant and accepting, and it always will be. We started with slaves, the three-fifths clause and white-male-only voting. Then we freed the slaves. Then we gave women the vote. Then we ended Jim Crow. Then we blew our money at Indian casinos. More tolerant.
A few years ago, Howard Dean, then Governor of Vermont, had to wear a bulletproof vest--in New England
--because he supported a bill to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples in his state. A few years later, civil unions are the fall-back position
for Democratic candidates.
States can pass ballot initiatives if they want to, but the ultimate trend, the one they can't stop
, is toward tolerance and social equality. Sooner than we think, not only will gay marriage be legal, but opposition to equal rights being given to gays will land people in the range of public opinion somewhere between Trent Lott and David Duke.
One day soon, Karl Rove and his proteges will wake up on election day and realize that they don't have the same coalition that they had before, and they'll wonder why. They won in 2004 -- improving over their loss in 2000 -- because they constructed a superficial, short-term, hate-based coalition that was doomed to disappear as time went on.
The Republicans are running out of prejudices to use for electoral gain. One of their essential components for electoral victory is an internal "other" to fear or scapegoat, without which they will lose. Mexicans wont work nationally, using them doesn't work in California anyway. By leaning on homophobes, all they are doing is putting off a 5-alarm identity crisis. When that comes, it wont be pretty.
When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, he predicted that it would cost Democrats the South electorally for a long time. Some of the choices he made in the course of his presidency surely caused him insomnia and a post-Presidency mental breakdown, but he certainly didn't lose any sleep over having made the right decision about civil rights in America. THAT
, motherfuckers, would be "moral values". I hope that Bush voters who fancy themselves as tolerant moderates think about the ignorant, fearful hatred with which they have sided, hatred the media has dubbed "moral values". Sleep well.
(note: "good cop" to follow either tonight or tomorrow, motherfuckers)