Early on in the presidential race, I said that I supported Dennis Kucinich, because he was the only candidate who held positions that were fully opposed to U.S.-led nationbuilding in Iraq, and which didn't make concessions to the Republicans that the rights of homosexuals should be anything less than equal to the rights of any other person in this country.
Those who had a love affair with Internet culture, however, loved Dean. Those who wanted a compromise loved Kerry and Edwards. However, now that the rights of gays and lesbians are on the chopping block and practically nobody in the Democratic party has the integrity to come out in support of their rights, people are finally coming around to Kucinich as having been the right person with the right platform from the very start.
Of course, Kucinich now has no realistic chance of winning the election, in no small part because people weren't willing to back him when it really would've mattered. Too little, too late."First they came for the ______, and I didn't speak out, because I was not a _______."
Now, I'm not saying that either Kerry or Edwards are bad people. I think that either could beat Bush under the right conditions. Neither do I think that a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriages would pass under their watch. That said, both are vulnerable to attacks which position them as wishy-washy.
Kerry is already "moving towards the middle", by saying, for instance, that his position regarding same-sex marriage is the same one held by Cheney. The Republican tactic in this case will be to position this race as a choice between Bush and Bush Lite, leaving the grassroots uninspired, and possibly putting votes into the Nader camp.
Dubya made a speech the other night which uses framing
and positioning tactics to expose Kerry's vulnerabilities. Here are a few examples of what we have to look forward to for the next several months. "Candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions. For tax cuts and against them. For NAFTA and agaisnt NAFTA. For the Patriot Act and Agaisnt the Patriot act, in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."
"So far all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger. Anger is not an agenda for the future of America."
"It's a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving the economy forward, and putting burden of higher taxes back on the American people. It is a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence, or an America which is uncertain in the face of danger."
"They now agree that Iraq is better off now that Saddam is out of power. They just didn't support removing Saddam from power. Maybe they were hoping he would lose the next Iraqi election."
Ouch. Framing (and vast oversimplification) is a powerful tool, isn't it?
So, am I suggesting that we should all throw our votes and support over to Kucinich? No. Personally, I'm torn. I believe that people are better off suporting brave, ideologically consistant candidates early on when they still have a chance. I even sent the Kucinich campaign director a document (which he appeared to use) providing advice on how to run a more internet savvy campaign. I met Kucinich, heard him speak, and I think that he is a brave, honest, decent man, and would be a great president.
That said, I also think it would be a courageous thing for Kucinich to bow out of the race and throw his support to Kerry before Super Tuesday, and before the obvious underlying ideological divides in the Democratic party are allowed to come to the surface. Now more than ever, we need unity.
Why? Because Kerry is going to win the nod, and -- like it or not -- he is going to have to position himself at times as a non-scary, middle-of-the-road candidate. That being said, we are all fixating too much right now on how Democrats are positioning themselves in an election year. Sure, they can be a bunch of hypocrites when push comes to shove, but you have to admit that they are under a lot of pressure at this particular moment in time. This race isn't about what the candidates say during an election year, however... it's about who wins control of the political apparatus for the next x
years. Once the White House belongs to the Democrats, all the rules change.
Kerry can either have widespread support throughout the whole Democratic party, or he can face attacks and sniping for another month or two for selling various constituents out, and have a harder time mobilizing the grassroots of the party come October and November, watching Nader siphon off some of the support he could potentially get against Bush. Your choice. All of our choices, really.
Yes, same-sex marriage is a very important issue... Yes, Gavin Newsom was right to make it an issue for the courts... but the thing is, the timeline for making any constitutional amendment takes years, and we still have yet to hear what the courts will say. Perhaps they'll be wise enough to make same-sex marriages the law of the land, in which case the general public could have several years of getting used to the idea before any decision is made at all. If Kerry gets elected, then the drive for a constitutional amendment will fold like a house of cards. If not, then a widespread civil disobedience movement should be considered, the likes we haven't seen in this country since the '60s.
I believe that a Kerry presidency could lead to same-sex marriage, albeit not through initial open support, but through letting the courts work and letting social changes run their course. I also believe that a Bush presidency could lead to same-sex marriage, through shutting down the system, and through open harassment and violence against non-violent protesters that buy time, change public opinion, and let social changes run their course.
In other words, I think that same-sex marriage is inevitable, so long as we stay united and fight the right battles, keeping in mind who the enemy really is. That enemy, however, isn't John Kerry. Like it or not, he's the horse we've got. You can either beat him like a mule in a hopeless attempt to get him to go foward at this particular moment (and risk wounding him in the process), or you can suck it up and learn to fight the right battles. Last I heard, there's one coming up later on this year which will really need your help...