– Bud Norman
Well, there seems to be no avoiding all the talk about gay marriage. President Barack Obama came out in favor of it on Wednesday, and that’s what all the chattering has been about ever since.
Shortly after Obama announced his brand new position on the issue we happened to run into one of our homosexual friends — we have a bunch of them, considering what right-wing bastards we are — who was trying to figure out the president’s political calculation. He was quite sure the president had some angle, and scoffed at the notion that Obama had undergone a genuine change of heart and felt compelled by principle to share it with the country, but he couldn’t see any way that Obama would come out better than even.
The vast majority of homosexuals are going to vote for Obama in any case, our friend pointed out, and the few who won’t probably have economic reasons that will not be overcome by the president’s lip service on the gay marriage issue. We couldn’t argue with that, but suggested that perhaps the endorsement was intended to rev up a homosexual community that is relatively affluent, with considerable influence in the entertainment and fashion industries and other opinion-making fields, in order to help with a fund-raising effort that hasn’t been as successful as expected lately. Our friend agreed that there might some small advantage gained from that, but fretted that it would be out-weighed by the lost votes of people opposed to gay marriage.
He had seen all the polls showing the country evenly divided on the issue, and said they were corroborated by his own conversations with a wide range of people, but our friend had concluded that there are still more people on the anti-gay marriage side who regard it as a voting issue. Noting that the issue has been on the ballot in 32 states, including such reputedly liberal ones as California and Oregon, and that so far gay marriage is 0-for-32, we conceded that he might have a point. The vast majority of people opposed to gay marriage are going to vote against Obama in any case, our friend contended, but he expected that at least some of the black and Hispanic ones might be lost because of the issue.
The black and Hispanic voters are a risk, we agreed, but a carefully calculated one. Obama has likely concluded that the black bloc will remain loyal to him despite its strong opposition to gay marriage, and we believe he’s likely right. The Hispanic vote is a greater risk, but Obama apparently believes that any Hispanic who’s still on board after he declared war on the Catholic church over birth control is sufficiently secular that one more heresy won’t matter. The difference could be crucial in a few swing states such as North Carolina, which voted against same-sex marriage and civil unions by a wide margin just the day before Obama’s announcement, but perhaps Obama has reason to believe that the issue will be a net advantage in more urbanized states.
We’ve seen all the polls, too, and noticed they always show that the younger respondents are already mostly in favor of gay marriage. The best guess we could offer our friend is that Obama’s sudden enthusiasm for same-sex marriage is intended to remind the youngsters that he’s hip and up-to-date on all the social issues, not like that old stick-in-the-mud Romney, and thus revive a get-out-the-youth vote effort that hasn’t been as successful as in the past. Our friend was skeptical that the ploy would work, and suggested that even the hippest-and-most up-to-date straight guys are only so interested in gay issues.
– Bud Norman
Those Republican primaries in Michigan and Arizona got all the attention, but Tuesday was also an election day here in Wichita, Kansas. The only item on the ballot was a referendum on the city’s plan to give several million dollars of bed tax money to some developers who are proposing to build a downtown hotel, but that was sufficient to get us out of the house and down to the neighborhood polling place.
This was the first election since a new state law went into effect requiring a photo identification card to vote, so we were slightly surprised when the nice lady at the folding table asked to see a driver’s license. The law is intended to assure that only eligible citizens are allowed to vote, and doesn’t seem an onerous imposition, so we resisted the brief temptation to say “Lo siento, no hablo a Inglés” and simply provided the requested license. Moments later we were sanding at a computer screen, slightly disappointed that the ballot didn’t offer a “hell no” option but generally satisfied that our rights had been respected.
As we grabbed an “I Voted” sticker from a plastic bowl on our way out we overheard some of the voters in line grousing about the new rules, with one imitating a Nazi soldier demanding “Show me your papers,” presumably referring to the nice lady at the folding table, and another wishing harm on Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State who authored the law and a man much hated by what there is of a Kansas left. Judging by the comments, as well as their calculatedly hip attire, we took them for the sorts of liberals who believe the government should be able to dictate your choice of health insurance plans, light bulbs, and any number of other things, but draw the line at government asking voters to show a driver’s license, lest the dark night of fascism descend on Kansas.
While rewarding ourselves for our performance of civic duty with a beer at a local tavern we saw the bartender ask a youthful-looking customer for a driver’s license, and when the fellow wasn’t able to provide one he was shooed away. In an ensuing conversation with the bartender we discovered that he was a “yes” voter, but were pleased to hear that he didn’t think the new driver’s license requirement was a big deal.
We were also pleased to hear later in the evening that the “no” votes had prevailed, and by a landslide. The “yes” side was better funded, out-advertised the “no” faction by a least two-to-one on the local airwaves, and filled local mailboxes with promises of jobs galore if the plan were approved, but it’s becoming harder to convince taxpayers to sanction governmental “investments” in matters that have traditionally been better attended to by the private sector. Much of the credit for the outcome goes to our good friends at the invaluable Voice for Liberty in Wichita web site, as well as the local branch of the Americans for Prosperity group.
– Bud Norman