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Democrats’ gay marriage excuse
May 26, 2012 6:58 AM   Subscribe


 
yes, as are republicans

does this surprise anyone?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:02 AM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Did you know gay men are having abortions now?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:04 AM on May 26, 2012 [27 favorites]


does this surprise anyone?

I reckon it might surprise a few, here and there. More than that, I think a piece like this does in fact bring up some valid points that are worth considering and discussing, simply because they aren't, as far as I can tell, considered or discussed quite enough.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:06 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Are Democratic politicians, like Andrew Cuomo, using social issues to distract from the economic status quo?"

Yes, professional politicians are playing politics in the political arena of policy. The headline is idiotic, but the article has some meat to it, though it's just a few nibbles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I think the answer is unequivocally, "yes," I think it's important to note that Cuomo actually used his clout to get same-sex marriage legalized. Slimy corporatist or not, he should be given credit for that.
It seems that on the other side of the aisle social issues are much shouted about (and, more importantly, fundraised off) without, most of the time, too much actually being done about them. It's a well that never runs dry.

Also the author's name is David Sirota.
posted by Bromius at 7:18 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also the author's name is David Sirota.

Oops. Crap.
posted by Trochanter at 7:23 AM on May 26, 2012


Decoding this Rosetta Stone requires just a bit of contextual information from Siena College. According to the school’s surveys, only 58 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing gay marriage, while a whopping 78 percent support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50.

Put Cuomo’s declaration next to those numbers, and the revelation emerges: in a political arena dominated by corporate money, the governor is acknowledging that politicians will champion initiatives that don’t challenge corporate power, but will avoid promoting those that do. Not only that, Cuomo is admitting this is the case regardless of public opinion.


Given the Obama administrations' refusal to budge to marijuana petitions "It's a Dangerous Drug, so we don't give a damn what you think!", I suspect there's a very powerful lobby working to keep weed illegal.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:34 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how much meat there is on this bone. Politics, and life, exist on a continuum. You can't fix economic issues without fixing social issues, and vice versa. Maybe the politicians think they're avoiding something, but I'd argue that's not the case.

(Whether or not anything is being accomplished in any kind of a sane order is certainly debatable, though.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:36 AM on May 26, 2012


Somebody has to protect the sanctity of a low minimum wage.
posted by srboisvert at 7:54 AM on May 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Are Republican politicians trying to use social wedge issues to distract their base from the way their policies harm the economic, national security AND civil rights issues of their base?

Yay, rhetorical questions!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:56 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could jist as easily ask: are economic issues distracting us from domestic human rights violations?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:56 AM on May 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


Did you know gay men are having abortions now?

So, we can sort out the Gay Problem by microwaving boys with uterii?
We could probably hide that with statistics.
posted by Mezentian at 8:35 AM on May 26, 2012


You could jist as easily ask: are economic issues distracting us from domestic human rights violations?

The American economy is a domestic human rights violation.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:41 AM on May 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


From the piece: Knowing that marriage doesn’t threaten their profits, these moneyed interests opted to help their ally Cuomo notch a strategic win — one that allows the governor to preen as a great liberal champion to the state’s left-leaning voters, all while he simultaneously presses an anti-union, economically conservative agenda that moneyed interests support.

I think there's absolutely meat in looking at and considering at how the mainstream faux-liberal party is using these issues to shut up liberals & provide a cover to serving right-wing interests.
posted by flex at 8:44 AM on May 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


does this surprise anyone?

It doesn't surprise me at all, but for a certain sort of Democratic voter it's going to be an unpleasant thing to consider, and I can see how this would all seem very provocative to a regular Salon reader. The kitchen sink school of liberal political rhetoric has often involved grim declarations that using social issues as a distraction is "what they [Republicans] do when they can't win on real issues." I certainly heard plenty of that here in Oregon in 2004, when Measure 36 passed. So to certain people, the headline is going to suggest an accusation of hypocrisy.
posted by mph at 8:59 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


This article, especially the headline, is confusing. Cuomo seems to be decrying the idea that it's easier to legalize gay marriage than raise the minimum wage. I understand he did one but not the other, but he seems here to be upset he couldn't do the other. Or am I missing something?

And when it comes down to it, what choices are we to make when it comes to our voting decisions? Should we therefore elect Republicans because Democrats aren't trying hard enough to raise the minimum wage?
posted by tommyD at 9:00 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You could jist as easily ask: are economic issues distracting us from domestic human rights violations?

And we could also ask: why don't we see certain economic issues as violations of human rights?
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:25 AM on May 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Has everyone read the Thomas Frank book? Go read the Thomas Frank book. And the Wikipedia article on Citizens United, while you're at it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:47 AM on May 26, 2012


There isn't a stark divide between social and economic issues. Women being able to control their reproductive system, gay people having protection from housing and employment discrimination, disabled people having access to the workplace, affirmative action programs, education funding, these are all economic issues for the people affected and for the wider economy. Similarly, minimum wage laws, childcare for working parents, maternity/paternity leave, unions, tax rates, etc. are all social issues as well as economic issues. There is no reason to play one set against the other because the distinction is largely arbitrary.
posted by Garm at 9:47 AM on May 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


It is too bad that we have no viable progressive choice. The state exists to serve the citizen, all of them. I was hoping the OWS movement would spawn a charismatic spokesperson who wanted to lead from the front. We need someone who understands what people need and who can focus them to get the job done.
posted by pdxpogo at 10:02 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


[fixed typo, carry on.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:09 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The state exists to serve the citizen, all of them.
Nonsense, the state exists to preserve order, some citizens will be odd out.
posted by Mblue at 10:18 AM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


why don't we see certain economic issues as violations of human rights?

We do! But given the Left's historical exclusions of non-white non-males, I don't see anything wrong with prioritizing social equality for a couple of decades. Yet we regularly hear that focusing on feminism or gay rights is somehow interfering with the truly important work of organizing labor against capital.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2012


Same answer: is it awesome that the support of civil rights and equality issues is generally becoming a vote *winner* in many areas?
posted by jaduncan at 11:34 AM on May 26, 2012


Ok, that article link is crapping out on my device. But I would like to say that, as near and dear as "social" issues are to our hearts, the hard issues of civil rights, corruption, environment and economic injustice are where we need to be directing our attentions. The decisions in these areas affect Everybody, and have profound effects regardless of, say, race or sexual orientation. And yes, politicians are happy to take an easy win (and avoid the difficult issues) at every turn. No surprise there.

My despair is that these important issues (see climate change) are not being addressed by our leaders at all. Worse, the pols are in the pockets of big biz and there are huge disincentives to addressing them. Then there's the whole greed thing. You've heard all this before I'm sure.

Sadly, I don't see any way out of this bind barring a massive, organized movement by the Earth's inhabitants. And I ain't holding my breath.

So yeah, I'm a lot of fun at cocktail parties. On the other hand it's a nice Saturday on a three day weekend so maybe I'll just start drinking early. But wake me up if somebody gets a decent plan together.
posted by nowhere man at 11:45 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I was thinking that when Obama declared his support for gay marriage he was baiting Romney to make this the issue and take people's minds off the economy. Romney didn't bite in a big way. Both were smart maneuvers.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:00 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


But given the Left's historical exclusions of non-white non-males, I don't see anything wrong with prioritizing social equality for a couple of decades.

So you're saying that in the past, the Left has had massive problems because economic injustice and social injustice were thought of as unrelated to each other, not part of a common set of issues. We're continuing down that path, but you see nothing wrong here. We should just switch back and forth, handing our opponents the means to divide us and undermine our efforts from one side or the other because we can't figure our shit out? In the mean time, let's even do the enemy's work with sarcastic and dismissive remarks about the "truly important work" of our comrades!

WTF
posted by AlsoMike at 12:08 PM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


the Left has had massive problems because economic injustice and social injustice were thought of as unrelated to each other

Yes. I have no doubt this will continue.
posted by Mblue at 12:17 PM on May 26, 2012


We do! But given the Left's historical exclusions of non-white non-males, I don't see anything wrong with prioritizing social equality for a couple of decades. Yet we regularly hear that focusing on feminism or gay rights is somehow interfering with the truly important work of organizing labor against capital.

Constituency groups will argue for their own priorities as they should--not that any priority, in addressing either social or economic injustice, seems to be getting enough attention from the Democratic Party. Ideally constituents act in solidarity to push the Party toward better action on all positions regardless of their own priorities: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

But this is easier said than done, as solidarity is disrupted by the calculus of injustice you describe, in which we're told that working to end one injustice would only serve to exacerbate another. The US treats women, people of color, GLBTIQ, the poor, and the planet (to name only some) in unconscionable ways. The scope of injustice is staggering, which is why I'm reluctant to talk in terms of priorities when it comes to the Party or the Left as a whole.

This following is a terrible metaphor, but the planks of the Party platform should build a solid structure on which all members can stand to pursue the work of social justice, not a Jenga tower Republicans and monied Democrats can manipulate and tumble.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:37 PM on May 26, 2012


Decoding this Rosetta Stone requires just a bit of contextual information from Siena College. According to the school’s surveys, only 58 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing gay marriage, while a whopping 78 percent support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50.

I wonder about this. Politicians like money, but they like votes much, much more. As Barney Frank said, "No one was ever willing to lose an election for a contribution.". If going left on economic issues was a vote-winner, more politicians would go for it. But outside of a few Congressional districts, going left has guaranteed electoral failure. Obviously, money is part of that--- threaten banks and they'll fund your opponent. But the unbroken record of lefty politicians losing makes me think support for, say, hiking the minimum wage is much shallower than this stat suggests.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:48 PM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Civil rights movements have hit a wall whenever they've allowed themselves to be, or be seen as, the leading edge of redistribution.

Consider the dead halt that befell the racial civil rights movement in the 1970s began to be associated with welfare, cross-district busing, and leniency against criminals. Very few people will put an abstract concept of fairness or equality ahead of their concrete self-interest -- and that very much includes the millionaire donors and corporate backers without whom the Democratic Party would be confined to 100 or so urban districts in the House and maybe 20 seats in the Senate.

The dramatic success of gay marriage as a civil rights issue (from mostly unthinkable 20 years ago to being regarded as essentially inevitable now) is in no small part due to the fact that it is very hard to see it as redistributionist -- straight people don't perceive the economic benefits of marriage as a something they own as a personal asset, or a public asset in short supply which gay married people will dilute. This works even with those who dislike gay marriage -- it just doesn't bother them that much. A heck of lot of those 60% of North Carolinians who voted to ban gay marriage will be voting for Obama in November and many of 'em won't even feel a twinge about doing it.
posted by MattD at 2:16 PM on May 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Are Democratic politicians, like Andrew Cuomo, using social issues to distract from the economic status quo?"

Uh, sure. Why not?
posted by clvrmnky at 6:54 PM on May 26, 2012


ummm, duh. we call him the little prince here in NYC :P
posted by liza at 11:16 PM on May 26, 2012


In the mean time, let's even do the enemy's work with sarcastic and dismissive remarks about the "truly important work" of our comrades!

I don't understand how that's sarcastic or dismissive. That's the way some people in the old guard Left talk. That's the way this article is framed. I am merely reporting what you could easily see is a prejudice against social equality in parts of contemporary organized labor and almost all of the historical progressive movements in the US, not "doing the enemy's work." But of course, villifying those who point to failings within organized labor as in league with the enemy is evidence of just this hierarchy of "truly important work" and "peripheral work." You're kind of proving my point.

WTF
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:11 AM on May 27, 2012


Is this the part where I have to choose which of the lizards to vote for?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:21 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


anotherpanacea, I fully agree with your criticisms - I take issue with your hypocrisy. You criticize labor for making social issues take the back seat, and then tell labor to take the back seat. It's the last part that bothers me.
posted by AlsoMike at 8:24 PM on May 27, 2012


Whoever said "labor should take a back seat" is an asshole, but it wasn't me. I said "I don't see anything wrong with prioritizing social equality for a couple of decades." Labor doesn't have to bow out or wait its turn: it should be leading the charge for social equality! A more inclusive labor movement is a more effective labor movement. And yet, we are regularly treated to folks who seem to think this is zero sum.

Of course, in the short term everything is zero sum: if you do x, you can't do y, at least not right away. But you can do x IN ORDER to do y, and that's what I have in mind.

Or maybe I'm just a hypocrite.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:01 AM on May 28, 2012


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