The “Evolution” Of A Position

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I wrote this yesterday on Facebook, in regards to President Obamas “evolution” on his position concerning gay marriage:

I’ve wrongly been called a denier and anti-science by some of my Global Alarmist friends. Well, in this specific case, I’m going fully on record as saying I don’t believe in “evolution”.

This is what he always believed, but as usual was too chicken to declare it.

Hardcore liberals are elated that he has finally come out in support of gay marriage. Those of us – “us” being gay Conservatives or Libertarians – who have been critical of this latest pivot (flip-flop, whatever you want to call it) have come under sharp fire for not throwing glitter parties and thanking the President for making this the best early Christmas present EVER! What we’re generally saying is that this “evolution” to accepting same-sex marriage is not so much about some incredible epiphany, but is, as usual, all about politics. And, on cue, the turn of events in the last 24 hour gives our criticism some weight. For example. The American Thinker notes:

If his fundraising had been lagging behind the pace of his 2008 campaign, it appears that Obama’s flip flop on gay marriage may have changed that.

[from BuzzFeed]

President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage carries a political cost, but it also means floods of cash from wealthy gay donors and disillusioned young people eager to be inspired by him again.

The “Obama the brave” narrative will continue for weeks despite the fact that the “political cost” of affirming what everyone knew in the first place is minimal to non-existent. People who oppose gay marriage weren’t supporting him anyway, and those in favor of gay marriage may have been discouraged but weren’t going to vote for Mitt Romney. The downside to his flip flop is small, but is being touted as evidence of political courage despite all evidence to the contrary.

Considering stories had been floating around for weeks, if not months, that Democratic donors were being stingy with their cash, is this move to mollify a very wealthy and prominent section of the base all that surprising?

So, yes, there are reasons for his critics to be a bit snarky.

But, I recognize that some of their criticism toward us is also justified.

When Obama was running in the primaries in 2007and was asked about gay marriage, I was hoping he would give the same answer that he gave in 1996while running for the Illinois state Senate, that he supported gay marriage. He didn’t, opting instead to go with the “marriage is between a man and a woman” answer, even though that was not his former position. It ticked me off because he was running as the “change” candidate, and I thought that would have been the perfect way to signal change. I recognized at the time that if he would have been honest with the voting public on this issue, seeing that the majority of the public was very much against the idea of same sex marriage, he very well may have failed to win the ultimate political victory if he wasn’t political with this issue.

It is ironic that the same political pressures that made Obama disavow his first position on same sex marriage have brought him right back to his original position. But this has been a political mine field for Democrats for so long. Raise you hands if you thought that either Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or Hillary Clinton were being true to their actual heart-felt position on gay marriage when they disavowed it, also saying marriage was between a man and a woman.

Thought not. Hell, Bill Clinton got hammered for trying to liberate gays in the millitary. And he was never the same politically powerful figure afterward. The gay issue effectively neutered him…. Politically at least! 🙂

Face it, the issue of same sex marriage has been a very tough issue for Democrats to deal with. It’s been a political tightrope. Obama has changed that. In some ways this is comparable to political opposition to prohibition in the 1920’s. For the first part of that decade, unless you were running in a very safe district, a politician, even those who were known to be drinkers, could not publicly voice their desire to end prohibition at all. That was the political kiss of death. 1928 Democratic Presidential candidate Al Smith was the first Presidential candidate from either party to buck conventional wisdom, challenge the ruling dry lobby of the day, and vocally support the repeal of prohibition. Smith may have lost that election to wet / dry Herbert Hoover, due more to vile prejudice against his professed Catholic faith than his views on the drink, but his full throttled opposition to prohibition opened the gate for other politicians to “come out of the closet” as it were and not be afraid to state that previously unsafe position on the issue.

Back to President Obama. Yes, he almost certainly made this move in desperation to try and gain some support back from his ever withering base. He probably did not make this final switch for altruistic and honorable reasons. But then, history is rife with groundbreaking political decisions made for less than pure reasons (LBJ was not exactly known to be a civil rights champion before he signed the CRA in 65). In my opinion, the most important aspect of this change in position is this: It is more likely than not, in the long term, even if President Obama loses in the upcoming contest, that his cemented public support for same sex marriage will smash the wall that has kept many a Democrat, and a few Republicans for that matter, from voicing their true views and support of same sex marriage.

In the short term? Hard to say.

It does look as though this may heel some wounds Obama has created by trying to be a Conservative Democrat… Which no one really bought anyway. Also, he now has something for which there will be very clear and distinct separation from his competitor to point to during the campaign season. When the Republicans want to dominate the debate on economic terms, something which they believe is an issue that favors them, the Obama camp can now convincingly shift gears and lay claim to the once abandoned mantle of social issues. Social issues may not ultimately win the day for the Democrats, but this election season sure did suddenly get a lot more interesting!

So, Upon further reflection, I guess I can say my thoughts on this topic have… er…. “evolved”! :-).

Thank you, Mr. President, for opening this door.

PS. Now can you finish evolving your position on medical marijuana, and go back to the more liberal hands off policy you abandoned to try and win a few Conservative votes.