Thursday, November 05, 2009

Maine, Another Loss Of Humanity

I had some fears about the outcome of the the Question 1 in Maine with this initiative happening in an off-year election. Motivated base voters come out and it is difficult to persuade the ordinary voter something like this matters to vote on. This resulted in another "direct democracy" vote to strip fellow citizens of their humanity. While I might think the issue of Civil Rights falls on the side of gay marriage, it becomes so convoluted in legalese that it is arguable. I don't want to argue, I want to win.

I find it entirely offensive that my law-abiding fellows are denied the same rights and responsibilities the rest of us have, and that is about Civil Liberties. It is an essential human drive to establish stable long term relationships - families. It is essential for evolutionary reasons and societal reasons and it is not optional as a drive for most. It is not a construct of the legal establishment, it is a survival mechanism that has simply been recognized and formalized by the legal system. It is of such human import that whole structures both legal and religious have grown up around it. Another vote has been taken that denies our fellows their humanity.

I don't see how people in that group wouldn't be angry - I am a member of the heterosexual majority that isn't denied anything by this vote and I'm sad and disappointed. Denying people their humanity asks for fury and fury begets poor decisions. I'll be damned if I'll begrudge this community anger, hurt, disappointment, and impatience; they have been harmed at a very basic level. They asked for nothing extra, just to be recognized as fully human and were denied. Again.

I'm going to ask for something, for that rage to be channeled into creation, for that energy to be used to accomplish rather than harm allies and potential allies. Oregonian LGBT organizations are taking a longer term approach. The plan is to put a same sex initiative on the ballot in 2012, a Presidential election and to use the time between now and then to educate voters in a fairly low key manner. The object is to defuse the confrontational aspects before a vote, to swing public opinion into line with their objective well ahead of a campaign and to hold the vote in a year where activated base votes have less effect. This is about patience and work.

I know that throwing things and breaking things to hit back feels better than buckling down and working. It also doesn't work. There is collateral damage involved in anger and that damage discredits a movement. On something like a tax measure everybody who pays taxes has direct skin in a vote, this is different and some alliances or potential alliances are fragile. Mine is not, but I don't represent enough voters to win these things, those who do are subject to alienation by extreme rhetoric and behaviors. You are trying to appeal to a sense of fairness and humanity in people who are not directly affected, that is the goal and target - not splashy demonstrations of anger.

I am an ally, I am not suggesting complacency and I am not suggesting that having an emotional reaction to having your humanity denied is silly. I am talking about winning and that requires a strategy that recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses of a movement and accounts for them. If the object is to win, then do that.

1 comment:

Tax Analyst said...

Well said, Chuck. I think you what you are saying here is quite a bit like what I attempted to say over at Balloon Juice a couple minutes ago. I think your comment goes a little further in the direction of suggesting a course of action, which is appropriate since you are more familiar with working around and inside the elective and political process.