Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Same-sex marriage, Barack Obama, progressive Democrats, and Gary Johnson--a second look

UPDATED--President Obama has now come out in favor of same-sex marriage--at least a week after it would have done the LGBQT community in North Carolina any good.

That does not change the underlying argument here that principles needs to be vocally opposed to politics at every turn.

I know, I know, I already posted about the opportunity in NC that the victory of Amendment One brings to Libertarian Gary Johnson, but there's more.

Two kinds of more, to be exact.

First:  everyone nationwide is now commenting on how same-sex marriage could backfire on President Obama in the so-called "swing states" (The National Journal):
“It’s clearly giving the White House and those in the campaign pause,” said Jay Campbell, a Democratic pollster. “I don’t think it’s just North Carolina that’s causing them concern. Every time this has come to a vote, with exception of one case, it has not turned out especially well for the pro-marriage equality side. That’s all going into their thinking.”

The problems for Obama are manifest across nearly his entire electoral map this year. According to the pro gay-marriage Human Rights Campaign, an array of battleground states have similar bans, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. If Obama were to embrace same-sex marriage, he’d be on the wrong side of majorities in those states. He’d also risk creating the perception that he is trampling over the decisions of state residents to determine what they consider the right course of action for themselves.
“You think you’re going to win a key state like North Carolina when you just thumb your nose at the voters?” said Brian Brown, president of the conservative National Organization for Marriage. “It makes no sense.”
Thinking strategically, appealing to those pro-marriage equality voters in precisely those swing states is what Gary Johnso's campaign needs to do.
Why?  Here's the second "more."

There's a thread about this running over at Delawareliberal.  For those of you out of state, this bears explanation.  Delaware is a solidly Democratic State--Obama will win handily, and there is literally nothing Governor Romney could do about that.
Delawareliberal is the most widely read political blog in the state, and shows the split between what I call the "realists" who want to win the election and the "purists" who are not willing to support what they see as hypocrisy for the sake of victory.  [Ironically, this divide almost exactly mirrors the split in the LP ranks, except that the realists are far more in control for the Dems.]
My point, however, is that what you can find in this internal state debate is what is going on in the Democratic camps all over the country.
Now, read down through here and you'll see what I'm seeing (I have abridged a lot, by the way, but not intentionally changed meaning; go see the original for the full flavor--and where twenty more comments were posted as I was cutting and pasting these):
DelDem:  In my opinion, the worst thing President Obama could do for equal rights in this country is to endorse gay marriage. Yes, I am serious. Equality can’t be a partisan issue. It can’t be an issue that people oppose just because Obama supports it, like so many other issues in our country.
socialistic ben:  I gotta disagree DD. What if LBJ decided not to get involved in civil rights because it might “politicize” the issue. The conservatives (from now on refered to as “bigots”) already think Obama supports forced gay marriage for straight men, and forced abortions for nuns. A president must embrace civil rights.
DelDem:  That’s fine. You can disagree. The point I am making is merely a tactical / strategic one anyway. And this all might be moot if the President surprises us today.
Valentine: Ben makes a good point. Although I am a strong supporter of marriage equality, I have been wrestling lately with the problem that the issue threatens to alienate one of the Democratic Party’s most important constituencies, African Americans (although I recognize that they do not speak as a monolith and are divided on the issue). And my rethinking has taken me right back to my original position: marriage equality is a civil rights issue and the Party needs to stand on principle. If we don’t have principles, we don’t have anything. And I also think that independent voters respect people who have principles, even if they disagree with those principles, and reject people who flap in the wind or obviously pander.
V:  I want him to be on TV TOMORROW shouting for marriage equality from the rooftops just as much as everyone else. But he has to be smart. This election won’t be a blowout and he has to pick his battles. If he’s going to go down in flames on an issue, I think he’d prefer it to be healthcare.
Valentine:  If he thinks a totally transparent and patently absurd position is going to help him win with independents, I am afraid he is sadly mistaken.
pandora:  Here’s what I see on this issue (btw, put me in the DD/nemski camp)… either NC Dems and Independents didn’t care enough about the ban to come out and, you know, vote, or they did vote, just not the way those polls, Valentine cited, predicted.  Either way, there is no reason for Obama to base his reelection campaign on this. First, he gets reelected, then he handles this issue. There’s a big warning in the NC voting results.  Have we already forgotten what cost Kerry Ohio?
occam:  I’m tired of leadership from behind. I’m not giving him any more money if he doesn’t endorse in the ABC interview.  If Delaware is in the bag (no reason to assume it won’t be) I’ll vote for a third party candidate who does believe in equality.
Valentine:  I agree occam. He crossed the line with me a long time ago. I am doing nothing for him.
nemski:  Good job, Valentine and occam, I hope you enjoy President Romney.
socialistic ben:  I really understand the need to “play the game”, But what we are saying is “your (to gay people) rights can wait until we win our election” count me out of that camp.
nemski:  Then we never win the election.
So what you see here is several commenters (all of whom are regulars, let me assure you) talking about voting for a third-party candidate as a protest vote.
Will any of them actually do so?  Maybe, maybe not, but know this:  if we appeal directly to them as standing on principle even when it is unpopular, we have a chance to pick off some of them.
If we fail to make that appeal--and Gary Johnson is the only candidate who can make that appeal--they will be standing at the voting machine in November reluctantly pushing the button for Obama again.
Final update:  President Obama is supposed to address the NC vote today.  Some look for him to come out for same-sex marriage.  I don't.  I think he comes down in favor of civil unions, says we need to understand everyone's view on this sensitive issue, and denies that marriage equality is a civil right.
What's killing us here is that virtually none of the MSM stories are mentioning the only candidate in the face who's unequivocally FOR marriage equality.  We;ve got to get that to change.

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