Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Same Old Same Sex

Hillary Clinton has just officially changed her mind on same-sex marriage (not long after husband Bill explained why he now opposes his Defense Of Marriage Act).  Republican Senator Rob Portman has also come out in favor of gay marriage.  And President Obama famously changed his view on the issue last year.

Regardless of the personal reasons for these conversions, there's no question the American public is coming around. The general trend over the past couple decades has turned gay marriage from being politically poisonous to popular.  We seem to have reached the tipping point where more support the idea than oppose it, and it seems unlikely the trend won't continue.

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.  It means we'll never again have a Democrat candidate for President who doesn't support marriage for gay couples.  The bigger question is how long will it take for Republicans to do what Democrats are doing right now.  I suspect the change will be swift--that within a decade we'll have a Republican candidate for the White House who supports gay marriage.

But perhaps social conservatives--still the base of the GOP--won't be so easily moved, which will make it harder for Republicans with national ambition to straddle the difference.  But if the Republicans don't change, there may be serious consequences.  The question, I suppose, is how powerful is the issue--is gay marriage a dealbreaker (for either type of voter)?  It would seem the dilemma will only get worse for Republicans if they can't figure out a solution--older voters hve trouble accepting gay marriage, but the younger generation just can't understsand the opposition.

PS  I see Dennis Prager, a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, has just written about Portman's change of heart:

In this regard, Mr. Portman speaks for virtually every progressive/left/liberal position on virtually every subject. To understand leftism — not that the senator has become a leftist, but he has taken the left-wing position on redefining marriage — one must understand that above all else leftism is rooted in emotion, not reason. That is why left-wingers discussing their social positions always refer to compassion and fairness — for blacks, for illegal immigrants, for poor people, and, of course, for gays. Whether a progressive position will improve or harm society is not a progressive question. That is a conservative question. What matters to progressives is whether a position emanates from compassion.

This is news to leftists.  I think they believe they've got a clearer understanding of how the world works and if anything it's the right's argument that are based on emotion.  But when either side argues, they should explain why the other side's argument fails, not insult the other side by saying they're too filled with emotion to think clearly.  (I'm not saying emotion plays no role in political fights--it's probably the most important factor. I'm just saying one shouldn't claim the other side is emotional while your side is just being rational.)

The idea that progressives don't ask if programs they support will improve or harm society is bizarre.  I would assume it's the first and perhaps only question they ask. The difference between "progressives" and conservatives is a difference, mainly, in what they value. They also have different assumptions (related to their values) regarding how the world works, so they can often start with the same set of facts and come to different conclusions.

As far as "compassion and fairness," don't both sides favor that?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The opposition is dying off.

Does this also portend good things for marijuana legalization?

3:54 AM, March 20, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. I think both sides favor progress and improving society, but differ on how to get there. I don't think that the right necessarily favors "compassion and fairness." I have heard friends from that side say, "I don't have compassion for people who aren't successful" and often "life's not fair." While one person's opinion (even if these were two different friends) does not make a side's platform, I would suspect that "compassion and fairness" are not priorities for the right.

6:07 AM, March 20, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Anon #1 - Speaking from Colorado, yes. But I would note that marijuana decriminalization in Colorado had a lot to do with libertarian leaning Conservatives pushing the issue on the grownds that 1) enforcing the ban on pot is a futile waste of money, and 2) it is not the government's business what people ingest, inhale or shoot into their bodies as long as they can make an informed choice. Meanwhile, strong opposition came from our very Democratic Governor Hickenlooper, who worried that increasing the availability of mind-altering subsatnaces will hurt society. It may be a coincidence that Hickenlooper mad his fortune in the micro-brew industry here in Colorado.

10:47 AM, March 20, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Saying the right doesn't care about compassion and fairness is like saying the left doesn't care about improving society. The difference is, I suppose, who and what the right is compassionate about. For example, if the left brings up rights of the accused, the right may ask "what about the rights of the victims?"

For that matter, if the right supports spending less on welfare programs, it's not because they don't care about the poor so much as 1) they believe we should also have compassion for taxpayers and our kids who end up paying for all this, 2) giving out such money depresses and even destroys private giving (and conservatives do actually give more to charity, adjusting for income, which is real compassion, as opposed to forcing others to give) and 3) government largesse makes people dependent, and in the long run it's more compassionate to teach most recipients to learn to stand on their own two feet.

If the Left wants to slash the military budget, is it because they don't feel enough compassion for soldiers, or because they simply differ on how best to spend our money?

10:50 AM, March 20, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Anon #2 - Your first statement is exactly right, both sides (all sides really) have improving society as their goal. The rest of your statement, however, misses the real difference between Conservatives and Liberals, and it is definitional. Both sides believe they stand for compassion and fairness - they just have definitions of those concepts.

Is it compassion to give a person a fish, or to teach him to fish? Perhaps the answer is both, but this points up the difference between the philosophies.

Is it fair to charge everyone the same fee for government services in nominal terms, or as a percentage of one's income or wealth? Again, an argument can be made for either side, and it doesn't mean either side is in favor of unfairness. There are just different viewpoints.

10:52 AM, March 20, 2013  
Anonymous Anon #1 said...

Denver Guy- I agree- but marijuana legalization is hardly a liberal/conservative issue despite the efforts of the conventional to shoveevery issue into that dynamic. I think the two points you raise relating to overturning the marijuana ban applies to overturning the same sex marriage ban- people want to do it and enforcing a law against a perceived harmless practice is futile and its not the gubmint's business to bother people on such personal decisions. I would add that the opposition to both tends to be old and dying off.

I can't wait to see what the fake vagina people think of this

11:36 AM, March 20, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Well, Anon #1, LA Guy will berate me for this argument, but in fact there is no law preventing two gay people from getting married. No police officer lurks around weddings to make sure the two people getting married aren't the same sex. The issue is whether States should be issuing official licenses for such marriages, which are otherwise perfectly legal. The only reason people get the license (and increasingly heterosexual couples are skipping the practice) is tradition and to be able to more easily qualify for a myriad of legal benefits, from joint tax returns to automatic inheritance and visitation rights.

I have absolutely no problem with gays marrying, or related people marrying, or groups of people marrying. I would, however, like to see a coherent policy statement as to when and why state and federal benefits are doled out to people who marry.

As I've said before, I think no one should get these benefits simply because they go through a marriage ceremony, and I wish the state would get out of the marriage business completely. I like the concept of civil unions, available to any two people of any relationship who choose to tie their futures together in a way that creates automatic, legal consequences.

P.S. Colorado will be passing a Civil Unions bill this year to go along with legalized marijuana. And I don't think either of these events indicate Colorado is a solid blue state.

7:37 AM, March 21, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'll think I'll resort to mockery.

You should write an editorial on this controversy: "Denver Guy To World: Please Stop Arguing Over Issue That Doesn't Exist."

And don't forget, you're perfectly free to sell heroin, it's just the state that doesn't approve.

10:59 AM, March 21, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Thank you, mockery feels better than excoriation.

1:09 PM, March 21, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LAGuy, I think the left wants to slash the military because we're the worst country in the world, so our losing to anyone would be a moral improvement.

And don't forget, kill Hitler.

1:44 PM, March 21, 2013  

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