Wednesday, February 25, 2004

In a way I'm really glad about Bush's announcement supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriage, because it forces people to really think about this issue and make a choice.

The political part of my brain has been thinking lately about what people call "character." People often say the vote based on the "character" of the candidate rather on specific issues, because if a person's has solid "character," he or she will make the right choices in individual situations. I thought about this and I don't agree, partially because "character" seems like a loose, flimsy and rather characterless concept. At the same time, I'm not really an "issues" person either. To me, the real question might simply be a cultural one. Will this person approach public matters with the same intellectual approach that I do? Bush certainly does not, and I instinctively knew that already. I would say so even if I were a hard-core supporter of his (failed) foreign policy. His support for the Federal Marriage Amendment only proves it. Indeed, I'm surprised that people are so surprised at this endorsement. No matter how much we might agree on specific issues (those are getting fewer and farther between), as far as I'm concerned Bush will continue to screw up in profound ways, because we're just not coming from the same place. It's really as simple as that.

Anyway, I couldn't sleep, so I got all political on my Republican mom's ass and wrote her this email. Enjoy. Just doing my little part to stop the internal menace threatening our fair nation across the sea.

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott MacMillan
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 8:20 PM
To: Janet MacMillan
Subject: Federal Marriage Amendment

I'm sending you this email only because [my late grandmother] isn't around to read it. If she were, I'm pretty sure she'd be on my side because this is NOT your mother's Republican Party.

The President wants to change the Constitution to ban gay marriage. In other words, if a majority of people in a state want to let gay people marry, the Constitution still wouldn't allow it. So much for states' rights!

The Constitution is the final law of the land. It's the document that says, "Let's agree to disagree, because in the end we're all Americans." You can be a lot of strange things, but you always fall back on the U.S. Constitution (or at least the spirit of it) to define yourself as an American.

Now the President wants to change it so that it explicitly discriminates against gay people.

You know I don't like George Bush. But as an American living abroad, I can always look a foreigner in the eye and say I'm still proud to be an American even though I don't happen to like the guy who's president right now. I really hate to think of how I could do that if discrimination were written into the Constitution like he proposes.

So think about this between now and November.

My mom responded: "I'm on your side, too, on this one. You've just got Dad all riled up, too!"

I don't think my mom has ever voted Dem. My dad's a conservative independent who reluctantly voted for Clinton in 1996, comforting himself with the fact that he voted all Republican in Senate and local elections. (As I've written before, they're New England conservatives, not Bible belt conservatives, and I realize that's an important distinction.) I suspect Bush has just lost my dad's crucial swing vote -- for good. If my mom votes against him as well, well blow me down. Northern Succession, anyone? At the very least, Matt Welch will have good reason to crow.


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