Obama and Gay Marriage

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I’m sorry, but I’m not really seeing the bravery or heroism, here. It’s important, sure. And it’s historic. And it might prove to be an effective use of the bully pulpit.

It’s also about f*cking time. Basically, Obama announced to the country today that he, personally, is cool with gay marriage. It’s a position he has allegedly held all along, but didn’t have the political spine to state publicly prior to this afternoon. Even then, he only made his statement after carefully strategizing with his aides to make sure it wouldn’t damage him politically. Or I guess to put it more accurately, once his aides convinced him that his gutless silence was hurting him more than what he said today possibly could.

Obama’s statement doesn’t change a single policy. He has basically adopted a federalist approach to the issue. To my knowledge, gay marriage also happens to be the only issue in which Obama embraces federalism. Obama apparently believes the states should be able to discriminate when it comes to marriage benefits, but if they allow cancer and AIDS patients to smoke pot, he asserts the supremacy of federal law, and sends in the SWAT teams. What a twisted set of priorities.

Moreover, because the federal government is actively discriminating against homosexual couples based on whether or not the state where they reside recognizes their marriage, there’s actually a decent equal protection argument argument against letting the states decide this issue. Or, better yet, for the federal government to just stop conferring special benefits onto heterosexual couples. Or, still better yet, to stop conferring benefits onto married couples at all.* And I say that as someone who generally believes in federalism. (And, to be fair, who isn’t married.)

I’ve been happy to praise Obama on those unfortunately few occasions when there’s been reason to do so. But this? This is a president half-assing it while still keeping plenty of political cover, and on an issue in which he could have effected real change had he had the courage of his convictions years ago.

As leadership goes, it’s little more than acknowledging the direction the wind is blowing. It hardly merits a new chapter for Profiles in Courage.

(*Insert boilerplate libertarian disclaimer about how government shouldn’t be in the business of sanctioning relationships in the first place.)


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91 Responses to “Obama and Gay Marriage”

  1. #1 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    “Or, better yet, for the federal government to just stop conferring special benefits onto heterosexual couples. Or, still better yet, to stop conferring benefits onto married couples at all.* And I say that as someone who generally believes in federalism. (And, to be fair, who isn’t married.)”

    I am married, heterosexually, and I’m a stay-at-home wife. And I agree with you.

  2. #2 |  Mattocracy | 

    “I am trying very hard not to be aggressive here, but it seems to me that those who think that there’s little difference between Obama and Romney are relatively comfortable (financially, racially, and in gender issues) as they are, and simply do not count the needs and concerns of any others.”

    Count me as one who thinks there is little difference between the two. And I take great offense to the notion that you think I don’t care about others because of it.

    Things that Romney and Obama have in common:

    1. Sending flying murder bots into other countries and murder their citizens without trial

    2. Neither one will reverse the Patriot Act or take our civil liberties seriously

    3. Both would keep American war mongering going

    4. Both support detaining people indefinitely

    5. They’ll keep handing out corporate welfare

    6. Racist Drug War will keep on going

    7. Neither will cut spending to balance the budget

    8. SOPA, CISPA, or some equivalent will eventually get passed with either in the white house.

    So the only real difference between them is gays, taxes, and abortion? Sorry if that doesn’t outweigh all of the other really terrible things they have in common.

  3. #3 |  Personanongrata | 

    Obama and Gay Marriage

    How politically expediant for president tyrant/king Obama to speak up now with “election” day a mere five months away.

  4. #4 |  MH | 

    Concur with those who say there’s little difference between the parties. But it’s largely a matter of perspective: if you focus on the short term battles and scandals, you see differences, and if you are emotionally invested in one of the wedge issues like gay marriage or abortion, you’ll have stronger feelings about one side or the other. Fair enough. But if you focus more on long term patterns, on the systemic failures of the country, the differences begin to blur. Brandon at #40 gave a very concise summation of recent American history, and I don’t see either party changing this pattern.

  5. #5 |  parsimon | 

    #49: So the only real difference between them is gays, taxes, and abortion?

    I think there might be a significant foreign policy difference as well. The chance of war with Iran under Romney seems rather higher. The Obama administration has done some very good things in other policy areas.

    I assume you’ve seen these, which have slightly different lists:

    http://whattheheckhasobamadonesofar.com/

    http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/

    I didn’t say “taxes” in any case, though obviously that comes into the mix. Rather, we need to continue to fund support for the less fortunate in our society: a society cannot function as a whole in a healthy manner if its less fortunate members increasingly suffer.

    I think you minimize the importance of abortion (and birth control) rights and availability. I’m having a bit of cognitive dissonance over how civil liberties can be so championed while abortion and the rights of LGBT folks are sidelined.

    Basically, Obama is not perfect. But you know the old saying: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  6. #6 |  Woog | 

    Where does the Constitution grant authority to federal government to interfere, comment, regulate, perform, recognize, define, or otherwise have anything to do with marriages in any capacity, regardless of the two (or more?) individuals party to any specific living arrangement?

  7. #7 |  parsimon | 

    Oops. I wrote a comment with URLs that may have caused the comment to be put in moderation. Perhaps Radley is around to see it and clear it. I don’t quite know what the comment moderation rules are here.

  8. #8 |  David | 

    If you’re going to call Obama a tyrant, maybe the issue where his landmark statement of “support” ends with “but if the states want to put ‘haha fags suck’ in their constitutions, that’s their business”?

  9. #9 |  David | 

    Er, maybe that issue isn’t the best one to make that stand on.

  10. #10 |  Deoxy | 

    It’s really only been the current model for about 150 years. In Biblical times, marriage was basically a property arrangement.

    You know, just making stuff up to fit your argument doesn’t really help.

    Yes, yes, the rights of women throughout history have been variable, generally less than men, and always different than men. Go read the story of Jacob and the 14 years of toil he put in to get permission to marry the woman he loved, and tell me it’s all about property.

    Marriage is about children. Sure, we forget about that today, with contraception, etc, but that’s the point – raising children to be productive members of society.

    There have been many cases where men are allowed more than one wife (welcome to biology) and even a very few cases where a wife has more than one husband (in extremely difficult areas to live in, where it took the work of two men to raise one woman’s worth of children), but no society in human history called homosexual relationships “marriage”, nor viewed that as a replacement for marriage.

    Heck, even the Greeks, who viewed homosexual relations as superior to heterosexual ones, didn’t enshrine that as “marriage” – that was reserved for your spouse, with whom you raised children and had a stable family.

    THAT is what this is about. What consenting adults do in the bedroom, who you entrust with your estate if you die, who can visit you in the hospital, etc, are barnacles encrusting the hull of something much larger and more important.

    In 100 years, the societies that produce children who grow up to be productive members of those societies will rule this planet. Those who don’t will die out from lack of replacement. THAT is what marriage is about, and it certainly justifies preferential government treatment FAR FAR FAR more than many other things we engage in in this country. Indeed, if ANY preferential treatment of anybody is possible, history tells us that supporting child-raising families is right at the top of the list for any society that wants to last more than a couple of generations.

    I find it hard to believe that you haven’t found any theological arguments against condemning homosexuality; very similar arguments to yours were used to endorse slavery and prohibition.

    Theological arguments abound. Ones that don’t directly contradict the Christian Bible don’t.

    And the slavery analogy is actually a very poor one, as slavery is dealt with rather directly in scripture – “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ…And masters, treat your slaves in the same way.” Link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ephesians%206:5-6:9&version=NIV

    Whereas homosexuality is clearly and repeatedly condemned: “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201:26-1:27&version=NIV

    As I said, even atheists make jokes about the churches that allow homosexuality, as it is so clearly condemned. To come up with other interpretations requires looking with the intent of finding what you want to find (people can ALWAYS do that, with anything).

    The prohibition thing… yeah, I never understood that one. I think you’d have to fall back on what I said at the end of the last paragraph – Jesus turned water into wine so that people who were already well into their cups could continue to celebrate a wedding. Hard to find any condemnation there…

    Personally, I’ve found that the arguments for the Bible not condemning homosexuality are quite a bit weaker than the arguments that atheism leads to mass murder, and I don’t believe the latter, necessarily, either.

    So the only real difference between them is gays, taxes, and abortion?

    For those who believe life starts before birth, thus making abortion murder, that’s a pretty big difference.

    For those who believe that high tax rates damage our economy, that’s a pretty big difference.

    For those who think civil liberties are important, only one party gets called on those violations by the mass media, so that’s a pretty good difference, too. “War mongering” would go here nicely, as well.

    Hard to argue about some of those points, but the ones mentioned do make a pretty big difference, IMO.

    here are many government programs that don’t rely on marriage, but to abolish it from government completely is absurd.

    Either “marriage” should be about family and children, or some kind of “non-marital spouse-equivalent” should be used. I gave the example of medical power of attorney as one area that is already done.

    One reason so many people object to “same sex marriage” but not to “legal partner” or whatever it’s called has to do with that sort of thing. Indeed, I think someone who never wants to get married, but does have a good friend they trust to handle things for them should be able to easily designate such person as “spouse equivalent” without anyone thinking anything else about it. Parent, child, sibling, friend, contracted agent… who cares?

    I understand the need for those things for people who don’t want to get married… I just don’t understand why it should be called “marriage”.

  11. #11 |  parsimon | 

    My comment awaiting moderation is still awaitin’, and I’m not going to hammer away at it.

    I do have a question: do those of you who find no difference between Obama and Romney intend to vote for Romney?

    Because Obama is apparently so craven? Or because there’s no difference anyway? Or, because Romney is, by the measure of at least some people, closer to a libertarian?

  12. #12 |  Christian Miller | 

    There is no justification for the federal government to give special financial benefits to married people at the expense of single people. It is also a waste since the bulk of this money goes to our more affluent couples.

  13. #13 |  perlhaqr | 

    I do have a question: do those of you who find no difference between Obama and Romney intend to vote for Romney?

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I plan to vote for Gary Johnson. Or Ron Paul, if a miracle occurs and he unseats Romney on the GOP ballot.

  14. #14 |  Angie | 

    I think it’s a complete joke he’s had to evolve to this decision that gay marriage is ok instead of instinctively knowing that treating all people equally is the right thing.

    I knew this when I was a child. I knew this before I knew anyone that was gay, before I had gay friends, and before my sister had a partner. Treating people as equals is the right thing. Not something you should sit for years and decide is this right. Or will this decision hurt my political career.

    What a joke.

  15. #15 |  Ken | 

    What about things like spousal privilege in trials? It isn’t all that easy to completely disentangle the government from marriage.

  16. #16 |  MH | 

    @56 Some time ago I stopped using HTML or links in the comments here as I was never quite sure what was going to happen. But clearly some people above successfully posted links.

    As to your question, while I sometimes vote, I don’t vote for presidential candidates. Although I can see the pragmatic logic in trying to support the lesser evil, the institution of the US presidency is so deeply corrupted I don’t think it’s meaningful to choose a lesser evil. No matter who I vote for I’m confident my choice would betray me. I preferred Obama in 2008, was glad he won over McCain, but man, I’m glad I didn’t vote for him, or I’d feel like a sucker today.

    In keeping with my earlier comment, if you feel strongly on certain wedge issues, I can see why you’d having stronger preferences for one candidate or another, but I prefer to step back and consider the larger direction the country is headed. Military adventurism, crony capitalism, the drug war, the expansion of the surveillance state and continuing erosion of civil liberties — the parties don’t seem to differ on these big picture items that will drive the future history of this country. Sure, one party might be a little better in one area or a little worse in another, but on net they are pretty close. In trying to pick one or another you are just getting caught up in their game.

  17. #17 |  parsimon | 

    The comment I left (previously awaiting moderation) is now cleared, up at #55.

    I meant that stuff pretty seriously: Obama has done a lot of good, and there is a difference between him and what we might anticipate from Romney.

  18. #18 |  parsimon | 

    MH at 66: I don’t vote for presidential candidates. Although I can see the pragmatic logic in trying to support the lesser evil, the institution of the US presidency is so deeply corrupted I don’t think it’s meaningful to choose a lesser evil.

    I’m afraid I think this is irresponsible. As citizens we choose our leaders.

  19. #19 |  Brandon | 

    “I am trying very hard not to be aggressive here, but it seems to me that those who think that there’s little difference between Obama and Romney are relatively comfortable (financially, racially, and in gender issues) as they are, and simply do not count the needs and concerns of any others.”

    Wow, what a reasonable, gentle ad hominem you have there! I’m a middle class, straight white male, so I just don’t *understand* how horrible those evil Republicans are even if Obama hasn’t been the hoped-for messiah? That’s what you’re saying? I have to assume you can’t actually name a significant difference between Obamney then, especially since the rest of your post is just boilerplate team blue fearmongering.

    The Ryan plan will not pass Congress, regardless of who is President. And even if it does, it’s minor reductions in spending growth, and contains 0 cuts to current spending. I would go much further in spending cuts, especially because you have to ignore the actual results of low-interest subsidized student loans, food stamps and almost every other federal program in order to actually support them. Romney has most recently said that he wouldn’t reverse the DADT repeal, and that he will not work to reverse Roe V. Wade. Again, Romney and Obama are both bland, substanceless political creatures, and both will govern according to short-term popularity rather than any sort of principle.

    And regarding your disingenuous question-begging post at #56, why would someone who has stated that there is no difference between the two vote for either one? I cannot come up with a single reason to vote for Romney. Neither can I come up with one to vote for Obama. But why do you assume that those are the only two choices? You could not vote on principle, not wanting to give legitimacy to a rigged system that results only in pain for you, or you could vote for someone like Gary Johnson, who at least expresses the desire, and has the historical tendency, to roll back the government behemoth and allow citizens to flourish as they see fit.

  20. #20 |  Brandon | 

    #67, you misspelled “Partisan” in your name.

  21. #21 |  MH | 

    “I’m afraid I think this is irresponsible. As citizens we choose our leaders.”

    I’m happy to choose leaders. But not rulers.

  22. #22 |  parsimon | 

    69: I cannot come up with a single reason to vote for Romney. Neither can I come up with one to vote for Obama. But why do you assume that those are the only two choices?

    This is a very old question. It depends on which state you’re in, actually. I voted for Nader back in the day. I was not in Florida.

    Now? I assume those are the two choices because one or the other of them is going to be President, and the difference matters. I think it’s juvenile to think there is no difference between the policies they would enact. Sorry.

  23. #23 |  Brandon | 

    “I think it’s juvenile to think there is no difference between the policies they would enact. Sorry”

    Again, you have no rational or substantial response so you resort to an ad hominem while trying to maintain your air of condescension. It’s ok if you think Obama is just dreamy or you don’t want people to think you’re racist, but at least try to put some actual thought into what you’re doing instead of dismissing any disagreements as “juvenile” or any of the other meaningless crap you’ve flung at me just to make yourself feel better.

  24. #24 |  Fay | 

    Deoxy: I promise you I am not making things up. I also promise you that your interpretation of scripture is not the same thing as fact. I also promise you that people whose arguments “directly contradict scripture,” are just as convinced as you are that their arguments are “Biblical.” One sect’s interpretation of things is not The Correct One, as much as you’d like to believe it so. Even the Romans passage you mention is subject to several different interpretations. Like you said, people can interpret Scripture to find whatever they want, just like you’re doing. Which is why we have freedom of religion in this country. By the way, I don’t know who these straw-atheists you’re talking about are, but the atheists I know think hey, the churches that don’t hate gay people are usually pretty cool.

    My point with the slavery mention was to illustrate that at the time, people who defended slavery used those passages to say, “See? Slavery is just fine. Abolishing slavery contradicts the Christian Bible.” Just like you’re using Romans. YOUR interpretation of Romans. King James’s. Someone human’s.

    And yeah… the definition of marriage has changed a lot over time. If you don’t want to believe me, that’s just fine. If you don’t think the story of Jacob had any sort of, say, political agenda attached to it, or that Jacob had more than one wife, or that the story you cite was quite atypical of the actual historical period, that’s just fine. The point is, your interpretations of these things are dying. People are starting to realize, just like they did with slavery, that hey, maybe the way we were interpreting the Bible all this time is actually doing a lot more harm than good. And maybe the way people interpret the Bible should have nothing to do with whether or not all people should be treated equally by the law. And not “separate but equal,” either.

    Also, what Angie at #64 said.

  25. #25 |  Deoxy | 

    There is no justification for the federal government to give special financial benefits to married people at the expense of single people.

    That is a principled position, one I can agree with… but, as I said, IF it’s possible to show any benefit to anyone, that should be the most important one. Before you complain about marriage benefits, there’s a LONG LONG LONG LONG list of other stuff to complain about.

    As such, I await your complaint about all targetted tax breaks, as every single one of them give special financial benefits to one class of people, based on their behaviour, over others, who do not engage is said behaviour.

    (It is universally acknowledged, for instance, that Obamacare would be held constitutional if it was a tax break – that is, if there was a tax, and those who had the right kind of plan were exempted from it – we do that sort of thing ALL THE TIME, as a society. Singling out marriage on the financial aspects is either sheer dishonesty or part of opposing all of those.)

    What about things like spousal privilege in trials? It isn’t all that easy to completely disentangle the government from marriage.

    Lawyers get the same thing. Being able to designate one “legally equivalent to ME if I am not present” person makes sense, for many reasons.

    It so happens that married couples should (and by law currently DO) designate their spouse as such. Making non-married people able to designate one such person, with no other baggage (especially sexual connotations) is a GREAT idea.

    In fact, such arrangements have much higher support than gay “marriage”… but are generally directly opposed by gay “marriage” proponents. I think such arrangements would be a big step forward, in civil rights, as I could designate, for instance, my parent or my child, without all the squicky connotations that come with “marriage” to a direct family member.

    Obama has done a lot of good, and there is a difference between him and what we might anticipate from Romney.

    Even if I absolutely grant you the “good” things he has done for the sake of argument (an ENORMOUS assumption), it’s still quite easy to point out that the amazing inefficiency of how he went about doing so is crazy-stupid.

    Look at the cost of each job generated by the stimulus, for just the most obvious example: depending on the state, upper six figures to mid seven. That’s NOT a good thing – you could simply give those people half the money in question, do more good, and waste less money. THAT IS DUMB.

    There are other ways to accomplish those things, at pennies on the dollar. Is it all about money? Well, in a world of limited resources, yes. If I had $1 million, and I spent it all to save one person from a very hard to treat disease, sure, that’s nice, but I DIDN’T save the 1,000 people that had an easy to treat disease and they all died, gee… that’s not so great of me, eh?

    That’s what you’re arguing for. Let’s blow money out our rear to do piddly amounts of “good” things.

    And that’s giving you the assumption that he’s done good things. That’s the NICE way to interpret your argument.

  26. #26 |  Mattocracy | 

    “The chance of war with Iran under Romney seems rather higher.”

    Garbage. You really think the guy who sent even more troops overseas and shot 60+cruise missils into a country that didn’t attack us is less likely to start a war with Iran?

    “Rather, we need to continue to fund support for the less fortunate in our society:”

    Your opinion is not a fact. And by less fortunate do you mean wall street? Cause he’s sent more money to them then he has to poor people.

    “I think you minimize the importance of abortion (and birth control) rights and availability.”

    I didn’t minimize anything. People seem to have the ridiculous fear that the GOP will overturn Roe V Wade. They had complete control of things for 6 years and didn’t do it. They aren’t going to.

    Whatever good Obama has done is almost nothing when compared to the bad things he has done. Reinstated the Patriot Act, National Defense Authorization Act, continues to raid marijuana dispenceries in state that have legalized medical marijuana, Fast and the Furious Scandal, has kept GITMO open.

    He has done nothing to to outweigh these terrible, terrible things. So what, he treats gays slightly less shitty than the previous guy? Spent a few extra million here and there for veterens? Passed a contraversial healthcare bill that the CBO says will cause the price of healthcare to go up? It’s not that Obama’s not perfect, it’s that he’s doing more bad than good and that he resembles GWB more and more every day.

  27. #27 |  Deoxy | 

    I promise you I am not making things up.

    Yay, I’m totally convinced, now that you’ve doubled down on that.

    I also promise you that your interpretation of scripture is not the same thing as fact.

    Oh, I’ve quite comfortable with that. I sincerely doubt I have the one perfect interpretation of a great many things.

    That doesn’t mean that clear language can be ignored, just because it’s vaguely possible, if you squint hard enough, to get what you want to get out of it.

    People have interpreted “Thou shalt not murder” to mean “Don’t murder… unless it’s a dirty injun”, for instance. Can we point that out as obviously wrong?

    If so, then yes, homosexuality is also obviously wrong. It’s just as clear and obvious. If words have any inherent meaning at all, that’s what it means.

    If they don’t, well, we have nothing more to discuss, because I will interpret whatever you say as your admission that you are a drunken moron who should just be agreeing with me because I’m supremely brilliant and always right.

    By the way, I don’t know who these straw-atheists you’re talking about are, but the atheists I know think hey, the churches that don’t hate gay people are usually pretty cool.

    That would be “straw-atheists I’ve talked to in person, read articles by on the internet, and read articles by in major publications”.

    But yes, I absolutely agree with “churches that don’t hate gay people are usually pretty cool” – hating sinners is a pretty directly un-Christ-like thing to do.

    “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All sin is equally bad*. There’s no reason to single out homosexual behaviour as uniquely damning.

    There’s also no reason to single it out as uniquely OK, either. Sin is still sin, even if we don’t want it to be.

    *There’s one sin specifically called out as “unforgivable” – “blaspheming the Holy Spirit”. Now that is open to a lot of interpretation, including the interpretation that all sin in really “unforgivable”, hence Jesus dying for our sin, but now we’re getting a little far afield, I think.

  28. #28 |  Susan | 

    #9, Mike…marriage is not strictly, semantically speaking the union of a man and a woman…is the joining of one entity to another. In fact, nowhere, including the Bible, was there any definition of the union of a man and a woman as marriage, exclusive of any others. Not until the right-wing “Christians” came along looking for a plausible excuse for not accepting some “other” did this even become an issue. My own philosophy is that I can’t figure out why, the way they’ve been treated by hetersexuals, homosexuals would want what you define as marriage anyway. I’m personally in favor of finding a new, more accurate way of describing such a union. My personal preference is “partnership” because of the connotation of individual responsibility coupled with the notion of working together to achieve mutual goals.

  29. #29 |  Abhishek | 

    “This is a very old question. It depends on which state you’re in, actually. I voted for Nader back in the day. I was not in Florida.

    Now? I assume those are the two choices because one or the other of them is going to be President, and the difference matters. I think it’s juvenile to think there is no difference between the policies they would enact. Sorry.”

    I have always found this line of reasoning peculiar. The chances of your vote actually changing the outcome of the election in infinitesimal. This is true in California, but it is also true in Florida/Indiana/Missouri.

    So do yourself a favor and do not vote for the lesser evil. Vote for the person who best represents your interests and beliefs and will make the best president in your view. The US badly needs a real third party. And this could be the election where the Libertarians could go from their usual 1 percent to something closer to 10 percent. No, they wont win this time, but they can lay the groundwork for real success in the future. I will be supporting Gary Johnson.

  30. #30 |  Abhishek | 

    I would like to elaborate on my previous comment.

    There is an attitude that many voters have that they should not “throw away their vote” by voting for a third party candidate. In practice, this means that each party can take a lot of voters for granted. Obama can destroy civil liberties and wage wars and kill Muslim children all over the world because the voters who will care about such things are not going to vote for Romney over him, who is likely to even worse. Likewise for the Republicans and issues like economic liberty.

    What happens when many people vote third party? Sure, the person you like less among the two major party candidates might end up getting an advantage. BUT, I would argue that in the long term, a strategy for voting for the candidate you actually believe in (Libertarians, Greens, Pirates, independent, whoever) is much better. For one, it pushes the major parties to actually take seriously the concerns of groups like civil libertarians. They will not care if they have no incentive to. Secondly, your preferred third party might not have a chance to win the election THIS time, but they will NEVER have the chance if you dont ever vote for them. Parties do not go from 2 percent to 50 percent in one election. Ot takes a few cycles for a party to break out into prominence. Look at other countries and recent histories to see what I mean. The Pirate party is now the third biggest party in many European countries. This did not happen in one election, and it would have certainly not have happened if everyone always voted for one of the current top two.

    So the biggest reason to vote third party is to think long term. The arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice. You can slow down the process by ‘not throwing away your vote’. Or you can speed it up by actually making a difference with it.

  31. #31 |  Deoxy | 

    The US badly needs a real third party.

    No, the US will never have a real third party, and that is structural and inherent to the system.

    A parliamentary system allows lots of parties but generally required “coalition” governments that that sometimes allow small but “vital” groups to wield disproportionate power or extract large concessions. Splitting in some noticeable number of instances, benefits the smaller groups.

    A system like ours inherently disfavors third parties, as such things usually COST the the group that splits (both the larger and the smaller parts). Ross Perot, for instance, cost Bush 41 reelection by splitting the conservative vote (Clinton never got a majority of the vote, winning merely by plurality in both elections, with Perot splitting the conservative vote both times – buying the Presidency (for someone else) is easy! Just run as a copy of the guy you want to lose…).

    As such, the deals and coalition building happens largely within the two large parties.

    American politics is a table for two. Occasionally, one party gets so big it can split and knock the other party out entirely, and occasionally, one party gets so small (or has other problems such) that one of the small fry on the floor manages to drag them down, fight it out, and take their seat at the table.

    But there’s only 2 chairs. It’s structurally inherent.

  32. #32 |  Deoxy | 

    You can slow down the process by ‘not throwing away your vote’. Or you can speed it up by actually making a difference with it.

    There’s some truth in that… but during that time, the party most different from what you want has a free ride and dominates.

    It MAY turn out better in the long run, but that’s quite a gamble. The damage in the short term can be quite extensive.

    What works better is to engage the party closer to what you want and change it, working in the primaries to make it more like what you want. If you really have ideas and policies that can win, that’s where they are most likely to win, anyway – among the group more like what you already want.

    That’s what the Tea Party is trying to do to the Republicans, and I wish them luck. Libertarians would have more success (or at least not abject failure, like they have as a party) if they did that.

  33. #33 |  Brandon | 

    Deoxy, have you never heard of Ron Paul?

  34. #34 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    “Insert boilerplate libertarian disclaimer about how government shouldn’t be in the business of sanctioning relationships in the first place”

    Hi, theist, left-wing “anarchist”. I agree!

    (Besides, as the Nordic nations show supporting individuals greatly helps in establishing relationships on free association rather than financial need)

  35. #35 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @80 – It’s not an “American” thing, it’s a “FPTP” thing. FPTP systems allow 2.x parties. The looser the party discipline (and it’s VERY loose in the US), the smaller the .x is.

  36. #36 |  Noseeum | 

    Considering how rarely you write on this topic, I find it a little rich that this is the event which caused you to pontificate and insult a politician.

    I think in the interest of balance I should have seen about 50 posts by you condemning the hateful big government intrusion in our lives that Republicans have been pushing in attempting to federally ban gay marriage. There are plenty of quotes available from the past 5 years from the Right that deserve condemnation, yet you ignored the issue. Today you feel you must respond negatively to the first president explicitly endorsing the legalization of gay marriage?

    Yes you have posts stating your position. No I can’t find any posts ripping. republicans for some ridiculousa anti-gay comment.

    Based on your published position, which generally agrees with Obama, and your relative lack of posts on it, I don’t see what you accomplish by ripping him when he supports something you agree with. There are plenty of things you disagree with. Why not focus on those instead? Or why not focus your ire on the party that is NOT federalist in this regard?

  37. #37 |  Brandon | 

    #85 is an interesting extension of the BJ fallacy.

  38. #38 |  Deoxy | 

    It’s not an “American” thing, it’s a “FPTP” thing.

    Yes, that’s exactly right – “first past the post”. I was trying to remember a more elegant term for that, but it escapes me.

    Basically, we vote for person, not party, and each race stands alone – a country that was 60% Orange and 40% Purple (assuming they were evenly distributed) would have a 100% Orange government.

    In a parliamentary system, it would have a 60% Orange/40% Purple government.

    That is enormously simplified, of course. In reality, people are NOT evenly distributed, so different areas have different leanings. Also, since it’s a specific person, not just the party they are a part of, that person may sway some voters that would otherwise vote differently.

    Also, the specific person can hold views not entirely in line with the party they are a part of, and the party has less power over them to put them in line.

  39. #39 |  Nick T. | 

    Anyone read the full transcript of the interview. How is it that Obama cna believe DOMA violates equal protection but also believes states should be deciding the issue for themselves.

    Seems that if DOMA violates Equal Protection it does so by treating people differently based on sexual orientation which the DOJ has argued should be subject to heightened scrutiny. If this type of discrimination is unlawful for the federal government to engage in, then how could it be lawful for state governments when the Equal Protection clause applies to states? Is it that DOMA is just narrowly under the heightened scrutiny standar bc he has shitty reasoning but states have better reasons that allow them to overcome it?

    For a Constitutional Scholar, his position doesn’t seem legally consistent or coherent.

  40. #40 |  Link-O-Rama » Philosophy in Action | 

    […] Obama and Gay Marriage: “I’ve been happy to praise Obama on those unfortunately few occasions when there’s been reason to do so. But this? This is a president half-assing it while still keeping plenty of political cover, and on an issue in which he could have effected real change had he had the courage of his convictions years ago. As leadership goes, it’s little more than acknowledging the direction the wind is blowing. It hardly merits a new chapter for Profiles in Courage.” […]

  41. #41 |  Deoxy | 

    his position doesn’t seem legally consistent or coherent.

    In other words, he’s behaving exactly like normal for him.

    To be fair, most politicians do this to at least a significant degree…