“There are many issues that seriously and sometimes narrowly divide the country, but same sex marriage is not one of them,” one of America’s Holy Rollers said in explanation of Tuesday’s elections. “The upsets in the Senate and House races and the 11 marriage amendments showed that no matter where you lived, people came out to support the kind of values that founded and built this great nation. This is the Year of the Values Voter.”
Well. I guess you can put it like this.
Still. Lurking beneath the undeniable popularity of this basketful of so-called “value” issues, which holds such brightly colored eggs as “same-sex” marriage, “abortion,” “stem-cell” research, and, last but not least, the utterly manipulative “character” issue—and please note that this basketful of issues predominated in the minds of something like one-in-five of the Americans who voted Tuesday—is the desire not only to be on the right side of these socially corrosive “wedge” issues. But, more important, to smite those Americans who, for whatever reason, happen to fall on their wrong side. (According to righteous opinion, that is.)
Recalling the important (and massively documented) Chicago Council on Foreign Relations-Program on International Policy Attitudes opinion surveys that were released on September 28 and October 1: If, on November 2, a referendum on the Ohio ballot (non-binding, obviously) had asked voters whether they thought the Federal Government should conduct its foreign affairs (i.e., its relations with the rest of the world—outside the confessionals, bathrooms, and bedrooms of this great nation) within a multilateral structure of institutions, even when the decisions taken within this multilateral structure may not be the first choice the Federal Government itself would have taken, there would have been some kind of plurality in favor of such a structure. Maybe even a majority. (Though note that my phrasing of the question on multilateralism here combines a lot of more specifically targeted questions. And you’ll simply have to look over the very extensive CCFR-PIPA questions to see what I mean.—And while you’re at it, maybe also “If Only the World Had a Vote” (Oct. 16), and “A Hall of Mirrors” (Oct. 19).)
And if, on the other hand, a referendum on the Ohio ballot asked voters whether they wanted to adopt a statewide constitutional amendment denying to same-sex partners the same legal protections of “marriage” that heterosexual partners traditionally have enjoyed in their State, there was going to be some 62 percent of voters who responded “Yes.” Along with implications for the final vote tallies for the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets in the State. As well as similar consequences, at least across the other 10 American states were these loaded “same-sex” marriage referendums were held.
Now. It is a tribute to the abject failure of the American Democratic Party’s leadership to provide any kind of clear alternative in 2004 that placed their positions on truly important issues before the American public and kept them there (e.g., launching aggressive wars is criminal and wrong; national health care is right—and ought to be a Right), while permitting loaded, “wedge” issues such as the genitally-related ones to remain at the forefront of so many Americans’ minds.
(Quick aside. Maybe next time, George Soros ought to just roll up all of his ill-gotten cash into one big pyramid-shaped wad, and set it ablaze? It’ll probably warm more homeless people then, than it persuaded “undecided” voters now that the Bush regime had to go. I will gladly provide the gasoline and the match, come the Democratic primaries in the winter of 2008. Imagine how many of the heroes of the Great Democratic Revival since Soros decided to speculate on something other than the currency markets and Central and Eastern European states he’d take with him! I’ll bet they’d really move on, as soon as their Sugar Daddy’s money dried up.)
(Quick aside to this quick aside. And the next time any of you click-on The Nation‘s webpage, and see one of Soros’ splashy advertisements there, running right across the top of their homepage—I suggest you move on, too.)
Likewise, Tuesday’s outcome is a tribute to the success of the Republican Party’s manipulators (Can’t really call them strategists. Can we?)—like the ones whose great thoughts I happened to overhear discussed on the Christian Broadcasting Network late Tuesday night—to place and to hold the diversionary “value” issues before the American public—the State of Ohio being only one case in point. With next-to-zero challenge from the American Democratic Party’s leadership and campaign manipulators, it’s worth adding. All of whom are doubtless studying the exit polls to determine how their candidate could have come in a distant second on the genital-related issues, so that in 2008, their next presidential candidate—Hillary Clinton? Al Gore? Barack Obama???—will capture the genital-related vote. Finally. Once and for all. And come in first.
But Tuesday’s outcome, both statewide in Ohio as well as nationally, is also a tribute to the deep-seated inclinations of the Americans who swallow this kind of crap in the first place. For on its intellectual merits alone, and without this substantial and growing segment of the very screwed up and in many ways decimated American public, the “value” issues never would receive more than a fraction of one percent of the attention in the first place.
Only the American state bestrides the planet like a colossus, posing a constant threat to peace and security internationally, and increasing the risk to its own population in direct correlation with every time it places the populations of other countries at risk.
And yet, in this country, on Tuesday, November 2, in the Year of Our Lord, 2004, it was the “value” issues, foremost among which was the Genitals Factor, that decided the day.
Think about it.
Postscript. Here’s one that originally appeared in Friday’s New York Times (Nov. 5). Yesterday, I deliberately avoided providing a link to it. But since it has now enjoyed a considerable afterlife—in venues that ought to know better (e.g., Portside, Common Dreams, ZNet)—but, then again, maybe not—I’ll touch on it for a moment. Then let it drop. Permanently.
“It is a revolution that plans to overthrow the aristocrats by cutting their taxes,” in the one sentence from the afore-linked New York Times commentary worth citing here, without the need of a footnote to remind readers that something is terribly amiss with this commentary, and that you’re only citing the piece because it’s a highfalutin instance of everything you’re not. (My god. How everything that glitters isn’t gold. Well. No kidding.)
Whereupon, the piece’s author, clearly eager to seize the podium of the Op-Ed Page of the New York Times, and to show the nation how to outwit the pundits-slash-pollsters-slash-advisers at their own game—an inherently dirty game, let’s not forget, no matter who plays it, no matter for what purpose—then prescribes how best to gather up all of the loose-ended beliefs and attitudes of the American public, and out-manipulate the Republican Party’s manipulators in time to win the next presidential election, four years hence.
Now there’s a champion of the common man for you.
Only not me. And I wouldn’t step one foot inside the Big Top where the people who like to play these games also like to hang out together.
So let’s begin Campaign 2008 with a simple principle.—OKAY?
Each of us has ten fingers, five a hand. I am willing to grant every person who wants my vote the chance to state one basic principle for every finger I have on my two hands. (Not getting overly technical about thumbs, of course.) Count them: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. But that’s it. No more. Anyone who doesn’t want me to laugh them off (flip them off, too) has to keep it simple. But, more important, anyone who needs more than ten fingers to state what he or she believes about the affairs of everyday life in the world I will immediately presume a crook, trying to cover up something his or her advance-pollster doesn’t want me to know.
Principle No. One, let’s call it. Namely: That whatever you believe and whatever you stand for, this is what you believe and what you stand for. Period. If you stand for X, affirm X, plain and simple. Ditto for whatever you reject. And trying to figure out how to contour, how to adjust and to package—how to market, to sell—your “message” so as to slice off a large enough chunk of the votes cast for the Bush Package in 2004 to give your party the edge in 2008 is not just a loser’s strategy. It’s a strategy that no true democrat (small ‘d’) would touch.
Above all: Stop addressing people as potential voters to be manipulated. (You may as well address them as the “Injuns” you’ve just signed a Peace Treaty with. Or as the residents of Fallujah, given one last chance to cry “Uncle Sam” by God Almighty.)
(Quick aside. This is kind of tautologous with: Don’t bother addressing people from the Op-Ed Page of the New York Times. Because your Everyman rhetoric aside, all you’re really addressing is your fellow pundits-slash-pollsters-slash-advisers.)
(Quick aside to this quick aside. Definitely tautologous with: This ain’t the Left. And don’t insult me by pretending that it is.)
A shameful attitude to take towards people. No matter how dirty one may think the forces one is opposing are.
Postscript II. According to Reuters (Nov. 7), none other than the victorious Republican campaign manipulator Karl Rove appeared on Fox News Sunday and pledged that during his second term, the American President would “push the Republican-controlled Congress for a constitutional amendment…to ban same-sex marriage as essential to a ‘hopeful and decent’ society,” as Reuters puts it. “Renewing his push for an amendment—despite its slim chances of success—would be a way for Bush to reward his conservative base,” Reuters continued. “The amendment would face a steep hurdle winning the needed approval of three-fourths of the states.” (“Bush to Seek Gay-Marriage Ban in New Term—Aide,” Nov. 7.)
According to one of the Religious Right’s websites—and notice that in the United States, there is no Religious Left to speak of—and why should there be? The Left in the States utterly decimated, religious or otherwise—
25 percent of Ohio voters called themselves evangelical—a number higher than the national figure of 22 percent. Among those Ohio evangelicals, 76 percent voted for Bush.
Compared to 2000, the 2004 election in Ohio saw an additional 900,000 voters cast ballots. Bush won this year by some 136,000 votes.
Could the amendment have been the difference? It’s possible. During the campaign to pass the amendment, churches and pro-family groups were involved in registering 54,500 new voters. Thousands more, who were registered but rarely voted, are thought to have voted for the amendment, and subsequently for Bush.
“I had seen polling data from six months ago that if this was on the ballot, that it would help the president by 3 to 5 percent,” said Phil Burress, who as chairman of the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage organized a petition drive to place the amendment on the ballot.
“But that’s not why I did it. I did it to protect marriage. Apparently, it did have an impact.”
The gentleman was crowing after a sweet victory, of course. But this is America, don’t forget. And in 2004, the genital-related issues made a huge—and perhaps decisive—difference.
“Did the same-sex ‘marriage’ issue hand Bush a victory in Ohio?” Michael Fourst, Baptist Press, Nov. 4, 2004
“Bush to Seek Gay-Marriage Ban in New Term—Aide,” Randall Mikkelsen, Reuters, November 7, 2004
Postscript III. Here’s a link to a very fine analysis by Alexander Cockburn:
“Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You,” CounterPunch, November 6/7, 2004
Too good for any sect that would feature the New York Times‘s Op-Ed Paging Thomas Frank, I’m afraid.
“Gays look ahead with uncertainty,” Sonji Jacobs, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 3, 2004
“Gay Marriage Bans Passed,” Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, November 3, 2004
“Same-Sex Marriage: Amendments to Ban Practice Pass Handily in All 11 States,” Chicago Tribune, November 3, 2004
“Same-Sex Marriage: 11 States Back Bans on Gay Unions; Georgia, Ohio Bar Partner Benefits,” Elizabeth Mehren, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2004
“Constitutional Bans on Same-Sex Marriage Gain Widespread Support in 10 States,” Sarah Kershaw, New York Times, November 11, 2004
“Rain, Lines and Litigation Slow Smooth Effort in Ohio,” Ford Fessenden and James Dao, New York Times, November 3, 2004
“Issues: 11 States Nix Gay Marriage,” Charisse Jones, USA Today, November 3, 2004
“Same-Sex Marriage Measures Succeed; Bans in Several States Supported by Wide Margins,” T.R. Reid, Washington Post, November 3, 2004
“For most voters, values trumped terror and taxes,” Frank Langfitt, Baltimore Sun, November 4, 2004
“Was Gay Marriage Kerry’s Undoing?” Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe, November 4, 2004
“President taps into potency of faith in getting out cultural conservatives,” Michael Tackett, Chicago Tribune, November 4, 2004
“A drubbing for same-sex marriage,” Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor, November 4, 2004
“An Unexpected ‘Moral’ Victory,” Janice D’Arcy, Hartford Courant, November 4, 2004
“Rise of moral issues produces a shift right beyond the Democrats,” David Usborne, The Independent (London), November 4, 2004
“State Bans on Gay Marriage Galvanize Sides,” Elizabeth Mehren, Los Angeles Times, November 4, 2004
“An Electoral Affirmation of Shared Values,” Todd S. Purdum, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“Some Backers of Bush Say They Anticipate a ‘Revolution’,” David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“Same-Sex Marriage Issue Key to Some G.O.P. Races,” James Dao, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“War? Jobs? No, Character Counted Most to Voters,” Kate Zernike and John M. Broder, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“Polls show faith, morality issues drew voters to Bush” Tina Susman, Newsday, November 4, 2004
“Measure 36 Win Returns Marriage Fight to Courts,” Bill Graves, The Oregonian, November 4, 2004
“Election Shows Voters Split on Cultural Values,” Michael McGough, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 4, 2004
“In Ohio, Voters Talk of Kerry’s Inability to Connect,” Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 4, 2004
“Bush reaches out; Moral issues: Dems caught by surprise,” James Sterngold, San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2004
“Gay Marriage: Did issue help re-elect Bush?” Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2004
“Same-Sex Bans Fuel Conservative Agenda,” Alan Cooperman, Washington Post, November 4, 2004
“Victory Bears Out Emphasis on Values; GOP Tactics Aimed At Cultural Divide,” John F. Harris, Washington Post, November 4, 2004
“Evangelicals want big payback for election turnout,” Susan Baer, Baltimore Sun, November 5, 2004
“Religious right relishes chance to push agenda: Abortion and gay marriage to be targeted as moral crusaders demand election payback,” Oliver Burkman, The Guardian, November 5, 2004
“Campaign Strategist Is in Position to Consolidate Republican Majority,” Todd S. Purdum and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, Noevmber 5, 2004
“President Benefits From Efforts to Build a Coalition of Religious Voters,” Laurie Goodstein and William Yardley, New York Times, November 5, 2004
“Religious political revival; Many conservative Christians see huge turnout of brethren for Bush as a mandate for their social agenda,” Carol Eisenberg, Newsday, November 5, 2004
“‘It’s a Victory for People Like Us'; Bush Emphasis on Values Drew Ohio Evangelicals,” David Finkel, Washington Post, November 5, 2004
“Is America Ready To Vote?” ZNet Blogs (the old ones), April 23, 2004
The Captive American Mind, ZNet Blogs, August 13, 2004
The Crap that Fills Americans’ Minds, ZNet Blogs, August 20, 2004
Whitey’s America, ZNet Blogs, October 1, 2004
If Only the World Had a Vote, ZNet Blog, October 16, 2004
A Hall of Mirrors, ZNet Blogs, October 19, 2004
The Great American Genitals Caper, ZNet Blogs, November 3, 2004
An Appeal from Fallujah to Kofi Anan and the UN, Kassim Abdullsattar al-Jumaily, President, Center for the Study of Human Rights and Democracy, Fallujah (In case you’re wondering, I’ve included this Appeal because of its real-world relevance and the immensity of the challenge.)