Polarization Works Two Ways

Over the years, I have been involved in a number of local political campaigns, albeit none recently, and there's nothing like doing retail politics to meet a lot of regular decent folks, most of whom have a lot of good sense. It gives you some faith in the basic long-run reasonableness of the nation (although that faith sometimes gets shaken during periods of martial enthusiam).

And that's why I think there's a decent chance that the Bush-Rove plan to polarize America will backfire. Consider South of the Suwannee, a blog that never struck me as at all radical:

Haven't I Heard All This Before? What if President Eisenhower had advocated a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's “overreaching” in Brown v. Board of Education? His advocacy would not have been based on any racial prejudice, but that the desegregation of American society by judicial fiat denied the electorate to have its say through the legislative process. He might have said, regretfully, “On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse.”

Farfetched? Hardly. I vividly remember the “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards that dotted the highways throughout the South, and the politicians whose opposition to civil rights was couched in terms of the South's “traditions.” I also remember my grandfather stating his belief that the real goal of integration was legalized miscegenation.

Fortunately for America, Ike resisted the call for radical reaction to the Supreme Court's decision and subsequent event proved him right. Contrast that restraint with President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to defend marriage.

I didn't start out being in favor of marriage for gay couples — and there may be some valid reasons to go slow in this process. But most of the arguments I have read seem to be based either on religious proscribtions, vague calls to preservation of traditions, or advocacy of seizing an opportunity to reign in out-of-control judges.

I've been married (to the same woman) for over three decades, and have a recently-married offspring and another who might not be that far away from “tying the knot.” I cannot see that allowing gay marriages threaten my or my children's relationships. On the other hand, a constitutional amendment does threaten a number of citizens and demeans one of our most significant civil documents.

I think, I hope, that there's a lot of that around.

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