Saturday, June 21, 2008


Wayne Besen [Pictured] just wrote a provocative article entitled, "How the GOP Is Blowing It" "

"A May poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 49 percent of white evangelical Protestants view gay marriage as very important, up 10 points since last fall - Overwhelming majorities of Republicans (75 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (81 percent) oppose allowing gays to marry.

"To win the general election, John McCain will need to win a sizable majority of Independent voters. He has attempted to reach out to moderates by appearing on Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show and by not rallying to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in California.

"However, you can be sure that the Religious Right will first exhort and then extort the GOP nominee into championing their extreme positions. They are already responsible for tarnishing his once shining brand. I can't tell you how many gay people I meet who pine for the 'straight talking' McCain of 2000, who called the Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson 'agents of intolerance.' This time, they vow to vote for Obama."

"If McCain panders to these inflexible ideologues, he can kiss this election goodbye. This intolerant fundamentalism isn't even working so well for the fundamentalists. The SBC reported a membership decrease of about 40,000 people from 2006 to 2007. Increasingly, polls show many young people are turned off by these churches' socially and sexually stunted positions."

[For the full article, see here.]

For what it's worth, I feel that McCain (as would be the case with any white politician running for President) is very likely to win the election, and it will have far less to do with his views on LGBT issues (which are loathsome), domestic or foreign policy, or on any other issue facing this country, than it will have to do with "race." In my opinion, the outcome of this election will be largely, if not solely, due to the entrenched racism that has infected, and still infects, this country, and from which all too many of its citizens have not been delivered.

"Race" is already in the political mix as seen when such an unfathomable article as, "Behind the Scenes: Is Barack Obama black or biracial?" is seriously written and discussed.

This article might have been written to discuss the purely intellectual issues involved in what constitutes "the correct labeling" and perceptions of a given person's race, but the very fact that that question is even asked and/or considered to be important on a purely intellectual and perceptual level in the first place, shows how important race is, and is felt to be, in the psyches of people. And this article appears on the CNN website!

Here's an excerpt from that article that poses a question that is so bizarre to me that I can't find any logic to it or get my brain around the mentality that would even think to ask that question in the first place, to say nothing about people who might well base their vote for President on such a criterion:

"This is an issue that has sparked debate not only in our newsroom, but also among my friends and family. Most Americans see Obama as a black man, and he identifies himself as a black man. But there are some who will argue that by labeling Obama as a 'black candidate,' we are all ignoring a vital and legitimate side of his life."

"This is a debate that will continue as we watch the presidential race. It seems with an issue like this there's no right or wrong answer. As Michaela Angela Davis says, it's a step in the right direction that we are even having this discussion as all."

If even "liberals" consider this issue to be an important one to discuss, can you imagine the animus behind "conservatives'" view of race and how important it is to this Presidential election? And we are to never mistake the fact that most of the U.S. is decidedly "conservative" in its social and political views!

Although the rhetoric in McCain's campaign will virtually omit the issue of "race" (Because it is no longer socially acceptable or "appropriate" to use hateful or discriminatory rhetoric against African Americans, unlike the case in regard to LGBT people.), images and innuendo can be expected to be plentiful and the desire to polarize the electorate into an "us" against "them" factionalism will have the closet racists (of whom there are not a few) view race as the major issue in this campaign.

When it comes to race, forget the horrible and threatening economy, the obscene war in Iraq, our involvement in Afghanistan, and the saber rattling regarding Iran. It will be the largely unspoken issue of "race" that carries the day! In fact, even given the the recent poll that shows 76% of Americans are not in favor of the direction this country is going, and say they are not in favor of the status quo, I believe that racism is so entrenched in the American psyche that "race" will likely trump this discontent.

Obviously, I hope I'm dead wrong! However, we are not to be oblivious to how important race is in the American psyche, and when a major news agency such as CNN even thinks to take seriously the above article enough to publish it, and when even people who undoubtedly view themselves as "progressives" even think that such a question posed is in any way important or relevant to even think about, let alone discuss, we're likely to see that the major issue in this campaign, and the major issue that many, if not most, of the electorate will take into the voting booth as the major determinant of their deciding for whom they are going to vote is "race."

And if "race" shows itself to be such an important issue and consideration when the stakes are so high in this Presidential election, one can only imagine how important the issue of full equality for LGBT people causes revulsion, and is a ready-made lightening rod to engage the ever-popular politics of exclusion, on the part of a good deal of the electorate as well.

Racism and homophobia partake of the same mind-set that requires the creation or construction of an "enemy" so that in-group solidarity can be enhanced; the Reptilian Brain can be easily engaged (as we saw when Bush won his second term); the desired outcome by those who can easily manipulate others can be achieved, be that desire for power, prestige, wealth, votes, imperialism of values, or any number of other individual and/or group self-serving factors.

Racism and homophobia partake of the same exclusionary needs that seem to infect a good many people in the U.S. and elsewhere. And those exclusionary needs, those needs for the creation of out-groups against which to feel "superior" for people whom both many clergy and politicians (when it suits their self-interests) find it relatively easy to manipulate to buy into that politics of exclusion, be it in the institutional Church or in the voting booth, promises to be alive and well in the upcoming Presidential election.

I made a $20 bet with a friend of mine who thinks that Obama will handily win the election. This is one bet that I hope I lose!
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