Winning with the Intolerance Card

The president has won re-election. For this we have Karl “Rasputin” Rove to thank. Rove understands “the base” like nobody’s business, and managed to coordinate a campaign that galvanized millions of Christians to show up and vote “moral,” laying the groundwork for what promises to be a tendentious second term for the Born-Again commander-in-chief. Indeed, one can only look on in awe at how brilliantly this campaign inspired so many God-fearing Americans to step forward and register their intolerance for the way other people want to live, as if being gay or married gay has anything whatsoever to do with morality.

They say that those who live near Wal-Marts voted for Bush and those who live near Starbucks voted for Kerry, but that’s not a very funny joke if you’re a gay teen somewhere in the heartland (or urban land), and everyone around you has just been given the secret green light code to treat you like a freak of nature; or worse, kick the shit out of you, or kill you.

And don’t for a second think that the message hasn’t been sent and received. A quick read of the morning-after bile emanating from the gloat-fest that is rightwing punditry only confirms it, as does the following e-mail sent to gay conservative Andrew Sullivan, who operates

“I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message – true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I'm sure someone like yourself would consider me just an ‘extremist’ that you don't need to worry about. Well you are wrong – I'm not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country.”

Impose your radical agenda? The not-so-inarticulate opinion expressed here nevertheless betrays a repugnant paranoia that many “responsible” thinkers in this country have done nothing to discredit, and many have in fact validated. The very strategists who mobilized this Republican groundswell are not quite so open about the “slant” they used to incite so many people to vote so spitefully, but the facts cannot be denied. Using dirty tricks honed over the years, they created the malicious impression that John Kerry represents people who want to influence how they live, when completely the opposite is true.

It’s the moral majority who refuse to live and let live, and the Born-Again busy bodies that can’t stay married if a gay couple anywhere in the country happens to exchange vows of matrimony. If these unsufferable fundamentalists are such a majority, they should be filling the nation with love and acceptance rather than fear and loathing, exercising the great religious liberties this country was founded to protect, instead of preoccupying themselves with everyone else’s business by furthering a political movement whose only goal is to deny other people the freedoms these absolutists reserve for themselves.

They complain to anyone who will listen that Christians are an abused minority in this country, but when you force them to get specific about exactly how that discrimination manifests itself, it is always in the context of government. They want to see their religious values expressed in the law, even if the values they want codified are at the expense of someone else’s way of life. They simply don’t understand or respect the concept of a secular government designed to protect the religious and moral values of all people. They’ve had it up to here with the gay lifestyle being thrown in their face but see nothing wrong with making gays legally faceless.

Adding injury to insult, a literal interpretation of the Bible will not allow them to tolerate a system that could create a law allowing anyone to marry, so they must now renew their efforts – with the tacit encouragement of this president and his callous vice-president – to rewrite textbooks and enact laws, statutes, and constitutional provisions that solidify their worldview. It’s not enough that they live in a country where a person can raise his/her child any way they want; they will continue to refuse to take personal responsibility for how they raise their own children, and will instead insist that all public school children are educated according to their own intolerant principles.

To me, it just proves the old truism that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and confirms the growing concern among progressives of all stripes that, rather than four years of conciliation, they will experience a period during which extremism and chauvinism rule the day and the Court.

I don’t believe, as some do, that we are headed for segregated states into which the “mud people” and “deviants” are herded, but I will not be surprised if hate crimes increase, and I certainly expect ever more restrictive laws to be enacted by emboldened state and local legislatures. It’s enough to make you want to pick up a gun in defense of the original values of the founding fathers.

So I guess the bottom line is that with all this talk of a mandate and the resulting opprobrious myopia that will prevent the winners from acknowledging the valid concerns of over 50 million Americans, the fight for a country where all citizens are respected is not over, but has barely just begun.