I’m going to get this out of my system today and then move on. It’s been a tense and fervent campaign season across the country, and I take full responsibility for my role in making it so here on Lakeland Local. I regret nothing I’ve written, and I would do it again. I stand by all of it. But it will be a relief to deflate a bit.
However, I do want to recount an experience I had yesterday that I find to be a bit of a metaphor for where this country’s politics are now.
I showed up at a South Lakeland church serving as a precinct early Tuesday to hold a sign for Scott Thompson. (That didn’t work out so well.) I was wearing an Obama shirt. (Maybe that was a tactical error for that precinct. I have to admit zipping up my jacket after a while.) Anyway, two women were already there holding McCain signs. One was passing out what I assume to be Christian voter guides. I walked up with a Thompson sign and smiled at the ladies. They smiled back, and then the woman with the guides, seeing my shirt, said: “Oh you look like you need one of these [guides] because I know you don’t want to vote to kill babies.”
“I beg your pardon,” I said. She then went on to talk further about my babykilling.
No “Hello”. No “Good morning”. No “How are you”? No “Isn’t our democracy majestic?” It was straight to babykiller. First sentence. As you might imagine, I might not have been the most receptive person she could have said that to. We had about five minutes of vigorous discussion, and then she decided to leave. I didn’t see her again.
But among the things I said to her before she left was: “This is why you’re losing.”
The Republican party has succeeded in uniting virtually everyone not white and rhetorically conservative against it by attacking who they are. Calling them babykillers, or lazy, or criminals for crossing the border to find a better life, immoral, Godless, etc. Republicans made this election about real Americans versus fake Americans. But they didn’t do the math. When you add blacks, hispanics, gays, white liberals, and secular constitutionalists of all stripes together, guess what you get in this country now: a majority. This was always going to happen, but Obama and Republican immigration hate – see Limbaugh, Rush and Dobbs, Lou – have accelerated it. Free advice: in a polyglot country, don’t use a guy’s name as a campaign issue if you care about winning. You of the Republican persuasion ought to think about that before you hitch your wagon to culture warrior Sarah Palin in the years to come.
Bottom line: The modern Republican party has become rude.
What’s that you say, Billy? You’re the rudest guy in Lakeland. Where do you get off calling us rude? Fair question. I think I’ve been responding to rudeness after years of shrugging it off. I thought Sarah Palin gave a rude speech. I thought Republican rallies were far ruder than Democratic rallies. I thought the Godless ad was rude. I think that woman at the church was unspeakably rude.
And more than anything else, these anti-gay relationship amendments are rude. I offer no congratulations whatsoever on their passage. They accomplished nothing except hurting real people for no reason. Given that I believe this, I’m not sure what anyone would expect me to say differently in defense of my friends. I’m not going to be quiet in the face of what I see to be injustice and cruelty. If that hurt people’s feelings, so be it.
Of all the many subjects in the Bible, Jay Dennis chose to get politically involved in homosexuality. It says much more about him than it does about the people whose love and commitment he considers meaningless. Divorce will continue to ravage his congregation and everyone else’s, and he’ll manage to take no political action on that. I’m going to point this out, once a month, for as long as I write. Call it the Jay Dennis Marriage Protection Divorce Amendment Time Tracker. It’s now been about 12 hours since Dennis helped protect marriage from gays. How long will it take him to protect it from heterosexual divorce?
One of the downsides of the Obama coalition, from my point-of-view, is that blacks and Hispanics as voting blocks, appear just as hostile to the dignity of gay relationships as conservative Christian whites. It is probably true that both the California and Florida amendments passed because of the black and Hispanic turnout generated by Obama’s fabulous campaign organization. That’s a sad irony to me, and it makes today bittersweet. We have much work to do in convincing voters from all groups. Obama needs to step up and do the right thing and talk about this publicly.
The good news is they will be convinced. California might flip in 2010. It was very close there this time. And young people of all kinds just don’t see the big deal.
Check out these presidential voting stats, broken down by age and percentage of the electorate from a national poll I read:
18-29 – 18 percent – 66-32 – O
30-44 – 29 percent – 52-46 – O
45-64 – 37 percent – 50-49 – O
65-up – 16 percent – 45-53 – M
Only the oldest, whitest group voted for McCain. And they gave him a pretty big margin. That’s the math of a new political reality. Cultural politics isn’t dead, and economic conditions might even help squeeze out a Joe Sixpack election or two in the years to come. But guess what, we fake Americans now form the core of a pretty big majority. And we appear to have chosen a future where rudeness has less currency.