Tuesday, August 07, 2007
by Wayne Besen
This week, the Democratic presidential aspirants will appear at a gay forum in Los Angeles sponsored by The Human Rights Campaign and broadcast on Logo television. While I am interested in where the candidates stand on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, what I really want is an ENDA-this-campaign.
Iraqi Parliament members have taken heat this month for vacationing to escape the Baghdad heat. However, after watching the tedious, never ending presidential race in America, I think they might be on to something. Our presidential candidates could desperately use a vacation as much as we need an extended holiday from them. Even a political junkie, like myself, is afraid of an overdose.
I propose we declare August, "National Freedom From Politicians Month," and carve out a forced respite. With a little R&R, maybe the campaigners can remember that their spouses and children are people, not props, to be trotted on-stage for photo ops.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, we should be engaged on the issues. But, this sure feels like a marriage with all the candidates sharing only one position: In my face. Election season has become a soap opera, and the candidates dominate the Days of Our Lives. Indeed, this week several candidates announced they will be on The Daily Show, but it is hard to get excited when I have to see these campaigners daily.
Let's step away from my political pouting momentarily to applaud the Human Rights Campaign for arranging this historic debate. The gay community should be proud that we have enough clout to make the candidates, of at least one party, walk on eggshells for two hours. We expect our Washington lobby groups to exert influence and HRC's Executive Director Joe Solmonese has created a terrific way to gauge the candidates stances' on gay and lesbian issues. At the very least, we can watch otherwise articulate contenders squirm and stammer like George W. Bush while they claim they are for equality, while opposing equal marriage rights.
Whatever the Democrats' shortcomings, at least they agreed to appear in front of a gay audience. Thanks to the right wing's histrionic overreaction to the marriage issue, everything short of the M-word now seems like a moderate position, including the once third-rail of Civil Unions.
America's recent tolerance of gay people and relative support for basic rights - such as the right to hold a job - make Republican fears of addressing gay issues head on seem out of touch. Likewise, the aversion of many GOP candidates to a YouTube debate makes them appear stodgy and retro. Even Bob Dole's flaccid campaign seemed spry next to the current crop of crackers.
I am going to go out on a limb and make the early prediction that a Democrat will win the presidency unless the Republicans miraculously change the Constitution so Arnold Schwarzenegger can run. (Yes, he would win because the terrorism card still has power, and too many "Security Moms" would feel "safe" having the Terminator as president.)
While the YouTube debacle and the rejection of all things gay seems small, they are symbolic of an ossified Republican field that is change averse. And, after eight years of Bush, Americans desperately want a fresh start. Yet, Republicans seem tone deaf and don't quite understand that voters are suffering war fatigue, while the GOP candidates are debating how to call up more soldiers in combat fatigues. This is a sure way to commit political suicide, as things will never stabilize in Iraq in time for the elections.
Yes, the candidates are beginning to work my nerves, as they work the rope line, yet one more time. If I am exhausted watching this rat race I can only imagine how taxing this must be on the actual candidates. It is time the parties cut a deal to give the candidates a break, so they can give us a break from watching them. Heck, even the never-ending sport of baseball has a season where the players actually go home.
While Inauguration Day will feel more like Graduation Day, where it is time for the supposedly "new," yet tired, president to be moving on, at least a Democrat will be likely be moving into the White House.