WIN OR LOSE; THE CULTURE WAR UBER ALLES!

Glenn Reynolds asks whether the proponents of the Federal Marriage Amendment are being played for suckers. The Amendment is sure to fail, and its failure could embolden the other side to go ahead with the drive for same sex marriage.

So why are they pushing for it?

I think that the proponents are more cynical than they might appear. I think they know they are going to lose, and therefore they'd rather lose in a big public way -- before the election. This maximizes their leverage (at least their perceived leverage, which is what leverage is all about in politics), because the election will probably be close as hell, and if it is, they can claim that they were the "key" to victory, win or lose:

  • 1. Bush won because Americans are fed up with the homosexual agenda. Had Bush not stood up to the homosexuals, he'd have lost!
  • 2. Bush lost because he didn't work hard enough for the agenda of his "base," so they sat it out. Had Bush done a better job of standing up to the homosexuals, he'd have won!
  • Kinda hard to lose if you think that way.

    Even if you lose!


    MORE: Of course, if the defeat of the FMA means more gay marriages, this only moves the country towards the dramatic "showdown" activists tend to crave. It also increases the likelihood of a backlash, helps the anti-gay-marriage activists raise money, keeps them on television -- all the usual ideologue goodies.

    Forgive my cynicism, but I've seen enough single issue politics and enough identity politics to last a lifetime. It's a broken record. But they want us all to listen!

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking to this post. And a warm welcome to all InstaPundit readers!

    An additional thought: listening to Hugh Hewitt on the Liddy Show today, I realized that I overlooked another reason why some FMA proponents might go all out even in the face of certain defeat. They believe passionately in their cause -- all political costs be damned. Which of course fits right in with Glenn Reynolds' suspicions that they're being played for suckers. (My speculation relates primarily to those who are doing the playing.)

    I wish people would remember that the right compromise at the right time could have averted the Civil War.

    UPDATE (07-18-04): Thomas Frank, writing in the New York Times, speculates that failure was indeed the proponents' goal:

    Failure on the cultural front serves to magnify the outrage felt by conservative true believers; it mobilizes the base. Failure sharpens the distinctions between conservatives and liberals. Failure allows for endless grandstanding without any real-world consequences that might upset more moderate Republicans or the party's all-important corporate wing. You might even say that grand and garish defeat especially if accompanied by the ridicule of the sophisticated is the culture warrior's very object.

    The issue is all-important; the issue is incapable of being won. Only when the battle is defined this way can it achieve the desired results, have its magical polarizing effect.

    Which is another way of saying that win or lose, it's a victory. Of course, Thomas is silent about the equally cynical nature of those on the other side who pushed this issue into the forefront of American politics -- also to "magnify the outrage" -- without regard to the possibilities of a backlash, or of the permanent bitter feelings which make people unwilling to ever compromise.

    posted by Eric on 07.12.04 at 09:25 PM







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    » Many, many years ago in 2003 from The Pryhills
    Y'all remember back in June of last year, after the Lawrence decision, all the pundits said something similar to "The majority of Americans are opposed to same sex marriage, but don't expect it to be a big issue in the election." [Read More]
    Tracked on July 13, 2004 5:49 PM



    Comments

    It isn't about Bush, and the fact that Leftists and Democrats think it is only proves once more that the Left is the Stupid party. Bush is merely a puppet on a string, obediently serving his masters, Santorum, Bork, Falwell, Robertson, etc., etc.. Bush isn't a Hitler, he's merely a Hindenburg, merely warming the chair for the Hitlers to come. The homosexuals are their Jews. We are now living in Weimar America. The parallels are ominous. "Godwin's Law" is a lie.

    The advocates of gay marriage brought this divisive nonsense on themselves - and on their whole damn country - by trying to have same-sex marriage legalized by the least democratic branch of our governments, the judiciary. This debate belongs in the state legislatures, not the courts. Whatever happened to elected officials debating and solving problems? Isn't that what elected legislatures are FOR?

    Raging Bee   ·  July 13, 2004 9:47 AM

    I think the Civil War was inevitable given the compromise allowing slave states to leverage their slaves for more representatives in Congress.

    Democracy is not a sure thing. The longest any of the founding fathers gave it was 100 years. They might have averted this if they had given more thought to the Article on the Judiciary and placed some effective checks on judicial power, but they couldn't have foreseen how things would develop. I think they expected amendments to be easier than they have turned out to be.

    As it is, constitutional amendments seem to be the only way the people can respond to judicial overreaching. We are to this day still struggling against the legacy of William O. Douglas. It's like a chinese finger puzzle, courts slide easily in the direct of assuming greater power but find it hard to give it back.

    I would prefer a system where issues like gay marriage were decided democratically, but we have allowed the courts to take them away from the people, and we must live with the consequences. I never believed that I would live in a society that is so hostile to what I believe that it would deny me the right to vote for it.

    We are fooling around with the foundation of our civilization, but since we've been doing this for so long and seem to be getting away with it, we don't seem to fear this bold tinkering.

    This may be the tipping point, I'm afraid, because we will have overthrown the basic principle of democracy, that policy is determined by the most votes. It is being swallowed up by the misapplication of the "rights" of the few.

    AST   ·  July 13, 2004 8:14 PM

    What's cynical about it? Forcing a vote on a contraversial issue, just before an election, is a perfectly letitimate way to cut through all the evasions, and force legislators to publicly expose any difference between their real views, (As opposed to their public stance.) and the views of the public. Heck, forcing the legislature to vote on subjects they want to hide from is a public service in a democracy!

    Brett Bellmore   ·  July 14, 2004 6:07 AM

    Show me where the word "democracy" is mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. The United States of America is, or was (until Wilson), a republic _NOT_ a democracy. Our Founding Fathers were aristocrats who abhorred the very idea of a democracy, i.e., mob rule. They certainly were far more interested in protecting the rights of minorities than in letting the mob have its way.

    The Constitution was indended to be difficult to amend. Checks and balances, a bicameral Congress with the Senate represented by states rather than by population (this cannot be changed even by amendment), the Electoral College, limitations on suffrage to the propertied and educated, an independent judiciary, and above all, the explicit protection of our inalienable individual rights to life, liberty, and property -- all of these are intentionally anti-democratic.

    "The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated possessed not one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny, their figure deformity."
    -Alexander Hamilton

    "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property, and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
    -James Madison

    And here's wisdom from across the Atlantic:

    "If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience with public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of public expenditures. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will in due season find your property is less valuable, and your freedom less complete."
    -Benjamin Disraeli

    "The adoption of Democracy by all European nations is fatal to good Government, to liberty, to law and order, to respect for authority, and to religion, and must eventually produce a state of chaos from which a new world tyranny will arise."
    -the Duke of Northumberland

    All of that is happening today. If you hate minorities, if you hate elites, if you hate homosexuals, or Jews, or Negroes, or those wealthier, more intelligent, stronger, or more beautiful than the average, then you would be more honest to invoke the Jacobin Revolution, the Bolshevik or Maoist Revolutions, the National Socialist Revolution -- or any revolution other than our own, which might well be said to have been more a restoration of ancient rights.

    Good point RB!

    And Steven, that Disraeli quote spares no one!

    Eric Scheie   ·  July 15, 2004 2:39 PM

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