Thursday, February 5, 2004

An Offense to the Republic

Jobs, war, the economy, social security, intelligence failures, the deficit, and a host of uninspiring corporate-owned cardboard cut-out presidential hopefuls (including the incumbent) if there wasn't enough going foul in Washington already to get us all up in a tizzy...

First let us say that this article is neither meant to support or oppose the two critical issues which it revolves around – gay marriage and Ralph Nader. It is, instead, meant to express what should be a basic American outrage over two fundamental wrongs being pressed forward by our elected political-elite.

But enough PC legal-speak. We've got a rant to start:

Amending the Constitution to Limit the Rights of Americans
How misplaced are the priorities of our reigning administration when, in this January's State of the Union address, President Bush treated gay marriage with the same attention he acknowledged the War on Terror and the occupation of Iraq? His stance against gay marriage occupied more speech time than did his comments on balanced budget initiatives and pre-war intelligence improprieties. It is, perhaps, telling that San Francisco major Gavin Newsom admits his motive for so supporting gay marriage in California came to him during Bush's misappropriated speech.

We're not arguing that gay marriage isn't an important issue to many Americans. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans are either outright opposed to gay marriage or would prefer the alternative civil unions exemplified in Vermont and Canada. Indeed, according to a recent CNN poll, fewer that 25% of Americans, homo- and heterosexual alike, support the right of legal gay marriage.

That's fine.

But draft legislation has surfaced which would amend the Constitution of the United States to federally prohibit gay marriage.

The Constitution. The document that defines our nation, lays out the rule of our government and, in tandem with the rightfully venerable Bill of Rights, has established and preserved an American tradition of freedom which has – though malleable and adaptive – guarded us for more than 200 years.

Why should the idea of amending the Constitution in this way so rile us up? Consider this:

There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution, from the famous First Amendment in 1791 to the most recent in 1992. Amendments guarantee our freedom of speech and religion, guard us from self-incrimination, abolished slavery, provide for due process and equal protection under the law, ensure the rights of persecuted minorities, give women and every free man over 18 the right to vote.

Indeed, in all the long career of our country there has only once been enacted an amendment that has limited the rights of the American people: The 18th Amendment. Prohibition. A damnable and reprehensible scar on our Constitution – undone only 14 years later by the 21st Amendment.

And now our lawmakers – indeed, even our president, who only four years ago publicly defined gay marriage as a states issue – are pushing to restrict the rights of millions of American with a federal amendment. An amendment designed to discriminate.

Regardless of your opinion on the legality or morality of gay marriage, the idea of so modifying our national document should chill your blood. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are meant, among other things, to defend our most basic rights from precicely this kind of popuar discrimination. Our founding fathers' sought to create a nation in which the rights of the minority were protected from the tyranny of the majority.

Laws exist on the books, the most defining of which, enacted under the Clinton administration, dictate that marriage be exclusively the purview of a heterosexual union of two people – man and woman. Both Federal and state legal precedents have upheld these laws.

That's okay. Maybe you agree with these laws, maybe you don't. But laws are temporal things. They come and go, enacted and revoked by lawmakers as whims and needs deem. But an amendment would prove an eternal blemish on our political heritage – like Prohibition. Its establishment and inevitable revocation would serve only to catalogue the people of our time alongside the T-totallers of 1919.

Support laws against gay marriage if you must. But an amendment? Never.

The Arrogance of the Democratic Party
Just so you don't think we're unfairly targeting conservatives...

Ralph Nader recently resurfaced as a presidential candidate and, before he even got the declaration off his lips on "Meet the Press", Tim Russert was ready with the Democratic ammunition served up by "liberal intelligentsia," countless websites, liberal newspapers, and every Gore-revisionist Florida voter since they popped their last chad in 2000.

And what is their united message? Their storied and thoughtful proclamation on the state of American democracy?

Don't run or our candidate might not defeat Bush.

Wah... Somebody call the Wah-mbulance.

We're not writing this as Bush-apologists, by any means. But for Democrats to openly demand Nader not run, as an independent, mind you – he does not support the Democratic Party or their candidates, whomever they may be – is an affront to the entire election process.

The fact remains that any American, however well-funded or party-affiliated, who wants to run for office and can form the proper committees and pay the proper fees can run. You can. I can (and might yet, if this keeps up). Nader can.

But, the Democrats complain, Nader's 3rd party candidacy cost Gore the election in 2000.

Yes. It did take votes away from Gore. Votes from people who didn't want Gore to be president and made what they felt was a better choice. But if the Democrats want to play this argument, let's take all the numbers into account. Nader may have cost Gore some votes. But how many did Buchanan cost Bush? How many did the Communist and Libertarian parties cost either of them? How many did the countless other third-party and independent candidates cost?

It doesn't matter. Instead of decrying his right to run against them, Democrats should focus on winning over his voters if they want to unseat Bush in 2004. They should focus on winning over dissatisfied conservatives and swing moderates. They should campaign.

After all, the campaign doesn't last 11 months for our health or amusement. It's a competition. And anyone who wants to play can. fb

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