Gay Dads for Equality

The fight for marriage equality from the viewpoint of gay parents

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Reflections about elections outcome: The Democrats lost the elections because of their reluctance to stand up to Homophobia

Like many are horrified by the outcome of the elections. As some of you may know, I have been active in the campaign through MoveOn and ACT, and volunteered in Pennsylvania for the Kerry campaign. I knew there is some chance we will lose, but I could not imagine that Bush will win the popular vote so decisively. Putting circumstantial and tactical issues aside, how did it happen?

We know that Bush won deep not wide. The country is more deeply divided. But it is also clear Democrats in blue states were not as motivated to show their support as were Republicans in red states.

It is clear now that Karl Rove's strategy won: the Evangelical vote was fully mobilized, some black churches were turned against the Democratic party, Priests were threatening excommunication. All eleven state constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage passed by wide margins. The conservatives managed to set the agenda, mobilize million to vote against their own economic interests due to a perceived "threat to their way of life."

This campaign faced almost NO response. The mainstream Democratic party tried to duck the threat and avoid the issue. The Democrats lost the elections because of their reluctance to stand up to Homophobia.

It perhaps makes good sense to try to deny your opponents attempts to shift the agenda from issues where you have the upper hand. It may have been tactically advisable for Kerry try to "level the playing field" by emphasizing his faith, etc. But my take from the election results is that the progressive side will not regain support without facing Homophobia head on!

How many straight progressive people, even those who know us and our kids and understand what this agenda will hurt real people, still think that gay rights is non-pressing luxury issue, something to be dealt with by future generations?

Well: think again. Today we are ALL stuck with Bush. The failure to confront the underlying ignorance and moral arguments that drive bigotry left the Democrats vulnerable to Karl Rove's strategy. Sweeping the issue under the rug will not work.

Some will claim that the opposite is true. That the Democratic party is "out of touch" with the values of the American people. That they need to move more to the center. Maybe Kerry should have done some more hunting? But look at people like Barak Obama and Senator Feingold. Progressive candidates can win by large margins, even in relatively conservative states, if they stand up for their beliefs. Young voters will also be better motivated if presented with a positive agenda, not just a defensive "defeat Bush" one. Fighting for civil rights is not the sole task of the oppressed minority, and neglecting to do so in the next three years will again leave Democrats facing with an insurmountable task when the 2008 campaign starts.


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