Saturday, November 06, 2004

Gay-marriage? That's so not the issue.
As you'll note from my previous post on why I voted for Bush, Gay-marriage was such a non-issue that it didn't even make it onto the "non-issue" list.

David Brooks explains how wrong many Dems are in thinking that this is the issue. I couldn't agree with him more (and therefore, I disagree fairly strongly with Sean's post on the matter). Read his article, it's short but robust. Here's a snippet:
The red and blue maps that have been popping up in the papers again this week are certainly striking, but they conceal as much as they reveal. I've spent the past four years traveling to 36 states and writing millions of words trying to understand this values divide, and I can tell you there is no one explanation. It's ridiculous to say, as some liberals have this week, that we are perpetually refighting the Scopes trial, with the metro forces of enlightenment and reason arrayed against the retro forces of dogma and reaction.

In the first place, there is an immense diversity of opinion within regions, towns and families. Second, the values divide is a complex layering of conflicting views about faith, leadership, individualism, American exceptionalism, suburbia, Wal-Mart, decorum, economic opportunity, natural law, manliness, bourgeois virtues and a zillion other issues.

But the same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?

While it is fun for me to shake my head and laugh at the magnitue of the miscalculation DNC wonks are making, I actually think it's really important that they figure this out. In our two party system, it's important for the good of the country that the Opposition Party fight the right battles. That is, it's important that both parties are arguing about the issues which are important to the electorate. If David Brooks is right, and I really think he is, then the DNC is focusing on the wrong thing. He's not the only one saying this, btw.

Why is it important to have a strong Opposition Party (regardless of which party is in that position)? Because a good contrary opinion, well and thoughtfully stated, forces you to correct, refine, and understand your own position. By way of example: This is why the PCA fights about such dumb things ("Strict adherence to the Westminster Confession?"), and why in the PC(USA) the fight is always about the essentials: Who is God, how do we know? Those are the questions that always need to be asked and answered. Peggy Noonan makes this point re: opposition parties much more eloquently than I do. One wishes the Democrats well if for no other reason than the Republican Party will be at its best only when it faces a worthy and vital competitor.

I sure hope the DNC stops belittling "Flyover Country" (a condescending term in and of itself) and figures this out. Not only because snobbery (like the Blue/Red State IQ hoax that Sean linked) is unbecoming, but because we'll be a stronger nation for it.

UPDATE: After some email dialog with Sean, it seems we're not so far apart as I thought on the gay-marriage-as-THE-issue question.

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