The International Writers Magazine: REALITY CHECK
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The Art of Politics vs. The Act of Liberty
The president of the United States agrees with the Bill of Rights. This is a novel concept, like when a kid begins to understand the alphabet as not merely being the lyrics to a cute song to memorize or a series of strange symbols that form different sounds but pieces of a larger linguistic puzzle.
I guess if Barack Obama, a constitutional law professor, has "evolved" into this realm of sound legal reasoning after a half century on this planet, a Harvard education, and three years as leader of the free world, we should shout hosannas to the highest mountain or decry him as a heretic and whatever "war on..." has re-entered the vox populi.
Not here, bub.
Here we're not fond of latecomers to the obvious. Detractors, and there are many, to this thinking claim that it is about time a politician in some form of power base utter these sentiments. Sure. Baby steps.
First there's "Will & Grace", the vice president on Meet The Press, then some non-denial denials, spin doctoring, sample polling, and voila! common sense reasoning of civil rights and the liberties purportedly granted to American citizens by the United States Constitution!
I feel like cracking a beer and saluting this great nation. Oh, yes, the enlightened have triumphed again over the darkness of ignorance and we'll forge ahead, as we have done time and again for nearly 240 years of blessed freedom!
Right, and George W. Bush was going to enact an amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004 if you elected him again. You did. And you know how many times this was mentioned after January of 2005?
Zero times. Yes. Not a wit. Not even a 'looking into it" or "under advisement". Captain Shoo-In was as successful at that as winning wars and keeping us out of Chinese debt.
This Obama "coming to religion" (pun duly intended) on this issue of same-sex marriage and the law protecting the rights of the citizenry of our humble republic reeks of Woodrow Wilson promising the women's vote to the suffrage movement during his desperate run for re-election in 1916 and then ignoring it and the suffragettes for three long years before being brow-beaten by congress to ratify the 19th Amendment, allowing, finally, embarrassingly, pathetically, women to vote.
And Wilson is what passed for "progressive" at the turn of the American Century. This is akin to calling Adam Sandler a thespian.
In election years presidents will say all kinds of things for different reasons. Lincoln's re-election centered on relocating freed blacks to Caribbean colonies in Belize and had his head remained bullet free maybe the Great Emancipator would be now known as The Great Evictor or maybe it was just off-the-cuff campaign-speak. I am sure, in a bizarre confluence of circumstance and social interaction, that the 50 year-old Obama, a man from my generation, a man who had directed the course of his life to the intricacies of constitutional law would suddenly arrive at this conclusion due to the wisdom of his barely teenage daughters and the loving example of their friends' same-sex parents. But for the sake of intellectual safety, I'm going to lean on the side of dicey.
But we've been on this for well over ten years now and admittedly it was hard to imagine any really high-level player in American politics saying such a thing and not being doomed for it. And Obama may still be, but the electoral maps says otherwise, and one wonders if he has the gall to dive into a social battle with what looks to be a lesser but still Republican-controlled congress on a fringe social issue. But one thing is certain, if this is how the president is thinking and he intends to govern this way, if re-elected (again, still both of these are of rather dicey propositions) then it will be in his Supreme Court appointments that may ultimately determine what should have, and technically already is, determined: The denial of basic rights to any citizen is not only un-American (an ideological almost spiritual slice of poppycock), it is patently illegal under our most sacred tenet, the Constitution.
Let's face it; Obama hedged his bet by immediately pointing out this was a state's rights issue, which brings us back to wondering what the hell all that constitutional law learnin' was for?
The yin-yang of all this controversial fallout is that the Republicans, more directly; their candidate for the highest office, Mitt Romney must take the other side, garnering the all-important religious-fanatic/bigot-centric vote. Romney, on record during four different campaigns as being not only for same-sex marriage but vowing to champion it, has gone the Santorum route on this, as he must. This is his only shot in swing states not named Florida. The base will love it, the FOXNEWS geeks and Rush Limbaugh and whatever other Right Wing dog and pony act is out there protecting us from ourselves.
But what of the independent vote? What of the religious liberals, or those who somehow have innocently mistaken tradition for law or morals for liberty, the foxes that were allowed a prime spot in the henhouse during Morning in America when The Gipper unleashed the primordial slime of Ed Meese to run roughshod over pornography and music and drugs and artistic dissonance. It's too late to expunge these nuts; they are more powerful than six Black Panther parties and five KKK resurgences. These are the carping knuckle-draggers that have interpreted a nation of laws and personal liberty as a pox on Israelite Bible fantasies. They are the ones who mistake the distinction of a homosexual citizen as a convenient substitute for citizen the way their predecessors mistook the distinction of women as an excuse to deny citizen rights or the distinction of African Americans first from human and then citizen. They're act is as old as the parchment they besmirch.
This is our embarrassment now, my generation and our flip-flop president, all enlightened, like coming to the eventual conclusion that sucking smoke into the lungs would somehow be harmful or feeding piles of processed fast food into our kids wouldn't make us grotesquely obese.
The whole thing is another sickening reminder of how far we are from thorny concepts like freedom and liberty and all those flag-waving, ribbon-tying shenanigans that have put us on goof-alert for my entire time sucking air on this spinning sphere. We talk a good game but are paralyzed for long stretches when the going gets tough.
That fact that the president of the United State uttering the idea of upholding the Bill of Rights for a segment of our fellow taxpayers is news is all you need to know about how utterly ridiculous a declaration of We The People really can be when ignored.
© James Campion May 11 the 2012
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