On alienating homophobic voters

After the 2004 election, which Republicans won based on appeals to American nationalism , xenophobia, and anti-gay bigotry, I called on the left to launch a culture war against these hatreds. I predicted that Democrats would move to the right in a pathetic attempt to "neutralize the issue", giving them no electoral advantage but deepening America's culture of intolerance.

Fortunately for the Democrats, the deterioration of the Iraq war and the Hurricane Katrina debacle turned voters against the Republicans and there was no need to swing to the right on cultural issues. But Democrats have certainly not stood up against nationalism and homophobia either.

The latest evidence is the response to comments from General Peter Pace - operational commander of the mass murdering organization called the US military - who said that homosexuality, of all things, is immoral. When asked if they agreed that being gay is immoral, both Clinton and Obama refused to answer.

Clinton said:
"We are being deprived of thousands of patriotic men and women who want to serve their country who are bringing skills into the armed services that we desparately need, like translation skills. [That's a weird thing to say. Because they're gay they can't fight, but they have a facility for language? -Jake] And one can argue whether it was a good idea when it was first implemented, but we know [sic] have evidence as to the fact that we are in a time of war -- when we really need as many people as we can to recruit and retain in an all-volunteer army -- we are turning people away or discharging them not because of what they've done but because of who they are."

But is it immoral?

"Well I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," she said. "I'm very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country and I want make sure they can."
And Obama:
Newsday caught Obama as he was leaving the firefighters convention and asked him three times if he thought homosexuality is immoral.

Answer 1: "I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow."

Answer 2: "I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they're doing all the things that should be done."

Answer 3: Signed autograph, posed for snapshot, jumped athletically into town car.
So not only did they refuse to simply say "no", they also promoted service to American imperialism in the process.

I wasn't really expecting any better from Edwards, who like Clinton and Obama opposes gay marriage, but here's what he had to say:
Asked by Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room whether he agrees with Pace's comments, Edwards replied, "I don't share that view."
That's not as strong as I'd like. You would think a Democrat could by now come out and say, "Homosexuality is not immoral. And our country has no place for this kind of hatred." But, as with other issues, in the face of Clinton and Obama's political cowardice, Edwards looks pretty good.


Patrick said...

It's just flabbergasting that Edwards' disappointingly minimal comment is so much better than Clinton's and Obama's responses.

Eric said...

Yeah, this whole thing has been a sorry show. One of the many reasons I'm out of the presidential fight until much closer to the time.

Jake said...

i'm not sure that's a good idea. the campaign is developing extremely quickly, and the media are already threatening to eliminate edwards by lack of coverage. they've already eliminated everyone except clinton, obama, and edwards.

it seems like there's three options: support edwards as the most progressive viable candidate, support kucinich as the only truly progressive democratic candidate, or support the green candidate as the only truly progressive candidate in the general election.

i've done the latter in the last three presidential elections, but this time we're in kind of a weird situation where a democrat who has solid progressive policies on some issues is viable. so even tho some of edwards's positions, especially foreign policy, are execrable, it's tempting to get behind him or risk a repeat of the bill clinton presidency.

Patrick said...

As you pointed out, Edwards' campaign is also a critical time, scrambling for money and media exposure. There's no hypocrisy in working for Edwards now, trying to get his (relatively) more progressive policies near the top of the Dem ticket, while also working for some more progressive candidate. (As far as I can tell, there's no Green candidate yet and may not be for many, many months.) Your own final decision on strategic priority can be deferred until we see whether Edwards even makes the cut for mainstream viability.

Bloggernista said...

The answers from each of the major Democratic candidates was pretty damn disappointing. Sure they were better than the Republicans who avoided answering the question at any cost. But, that's not enough. if the Democrats want our votes and our money, they have to do more than the lame ass responses they gave when asked this question.