I’m breaking my promise not to write any more about the election than yesterday’s post. But there’s a good reason and it doesn’t include denouncing President Bush, not directly anyway. Allow me to explain my deep despair from yesterday and why, even when that despair dissipates, the fragile peace in my mind will still force me to never let up in defending my principles.
The Karl Rove impact on America is my issue. I’m not concerned that a majority of Americans differed from my view of President Bush as a war president or his impact on the financial health of our nation; majority will is the nature of a democracy. The minority within the majority is what concerns me. It’s the “We drank the Kool-Aid, it was really good, you must have some” crowd of the Republican Party who seem to have missed the point of freedom and democracy and decency. That small group of people makes me fret for the immediate future of our great country and the ideals we claim to hold dear. The belief that a heterogeneous society is not only what sets us apart, it’s what makes us so great.
But some among us don’t believe this. They wrap themselves in the flag and pretend that only they are the defenders of the real America. They’re the true patriots, they tell us. If we don’t like it, get the hell out. While others who didn’t vote for Kerry are proclaiming that they’re ready to move to Canada or the U.K., I’m not one of them. This wave of hysteria will pass, but only if someone defends the truth. I will play my small part in that over the next four years and beyond.
I give that introduction to lead into my primary anger at the election. I’m concerned because of the eleven state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage that passed. Marriage is a right traditionally reserved for the states, so a state’s citizens passing such an amendment is within their rights, regardless of how ridiculous and discriminatory I may find it. The citizens acted. Now same-sex couples (and singles and traditional couples and singles) know where the state’s citizens stand. They can stay and fight, stay and not fight, or move. As a tourist, I can choose not to visit the states that passed such amendments. All of that is democracy in action.
But that isn’t the whole story, is it? The argument over same-sex marriage (and homosexuality) has extended beyond ridiculous and discriminatory and slipped into hatred. Whatever causes that hatred is interesting but irrelevant. I’m ashamed at my country when I think that this is what people believe and vote into reality.
Here are two examples from e-mails received by Andrew Sullivan about the election illustrate the underbelly of Tuesday’s election. These quotes are the gist of what is wrong with how far today’s Republican Party has strayed from the core of Conservatism and how fanaticism has taken over America. Consider:
“I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message — true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I’m sure someone like yourself would consider me just an “extremist” that you don’t need to worry about. Well you are wrong — I’m not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country.”
“I’ll tell you, being a 16 year-old gay kid in Michigan just got a hell of a lot worse. When I woke up this morning and saw the anti gay marriage proposal had passed, I was shocked. I realized the situation I’m faced with everyday in school – the American people have just shown my classmates that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate. A direct quote from a ‘friend’ at school today: ‘It’s so cool that all these states just told all the faggots to eat shit and get the hell out…’ Because of the above events, I am at a crossroads … I’m the youngest card-carrying Republican in the county, and am constantly asked to get others involved for Bush/Cheney. Herein lies a problem, I can’t bring myself to do that. Bush totally lost all my support (I know I can’t vote – but I make a hell of a campaigner) when he supported the amendment to ban gay marriages, and I felt bad that in straying from Bush, I was abandoning Cheney, who I have an amazing amount of respect for. Many would say go Democrat… but I can’t do that (that signals the absence of a spine up here), and in the next year, I’m considering dropping my membership to the party. Especially this year, despite how undercut and violated I feel as a gay person, I couldn’t be happier that I am. I’ve got a stronger will because of it, and will lead my life just as strongly.”
Contrary to what some people believe, hatred is not a family value. We’re all in this mess together. Until we accept that, not only does legitimate debate and intellectual curiosity fade away, we increase the divide between those in power and those in the minority. Intentionally creating (or refusing to work to reduce) that gap has never led to anything good. Remember the immortal words of Ximinez, from Monty Python’s Flying Circus:
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms – Oh damn! (To Cardinal Biggles) I can’t say it – you’ll have to say it.”
That’s the America I see right now. I don’t like it.