Tuesday, May 31 , 2016, 3:34 pm | Mostly Cloudy 64º




David Sirota: Yes, We Can Walk and Chew Gum

While the hypocrisy is enraging, the substance of GOP rhetoric about gay rights is downright offensive

By David Sirota | @davidsirota |

One of the most overused metaphors in a writer’s arsenal is the one about “walking and chewing gum at the same time.” As a hiker and Big League Chew enthusiast, I particularly hate this cliché. Nonetheless, I feel it is fitting right now because it so perfectly summarizes the argument being made by Republicans. They now insist that America cannot simultaneously walk the walk on equal rights and also chew economic gum.

In the last week, Colorado was the testing ground for this talking point. At the presidential level, Republican nominee Mitt Romney criticized a Denver television reporter for daring to ask about his position on, among other issues, same-sex marriage. Before restating his opposition, he scoffed at the question, asking: “Aren’t there issues of significance that you’d like to talk about, (like) the economy? The growth of jobs? The need to put people back to work?”

At the same time, Colorado’s Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty twice blocked a vote on a bill to legalize civil unions. His rationale? “We should not be spending time on divisive social issues when unemployment remains far too high and (when) far too many Coloradans remain out of work,” he said.

Echoing that sentiment, the shadowy Republican front group Compass Colorado financed an automated telephone call telling thousands of voters that the push for civil unions was unacceptable because it is “promoting (a) divisive social agenda over Colorado job creation.”

Obviously, it’s perplexing to see the Republican Party allege that social issues are insignificant and “divisive.” This is, after all, the party whose most recent presidential nominating contest was dominated by attacks on contraception — the same GOP whose politicians have made an art out of riding a “guns, god and gays” focused agenda to electoral victory.

But while such naked hypocrisy is enraging, the substance of the Republican rhetoric about gay rights is downright offensive. Essentially, conservatives are asserting that we cannot extend equal rights to all Americans and fix the economy. In the process, they are deliberately insinuating that the twin goals are somehow contradictory.

Well, you might ask, do they have a point? History says no. Our country’s story is the story of multitasking — a tale of extending the franchise to women while passing progressive legislation to deal with crushing economic inequality, a tale of both passing civil rights legislation and creating Medicare.

In light of such achievements, would anyone retroactively argue that America should have opposed the campaign to let women vote because the economy was so bad in the early 20th century? Would anyone insist that lawmakers should have halted civil rights legislation in the 1960s because there was a simultaneous need for a War on Poverty? Probably not, because most of us recognize such arguments for what they are: diversionary non-sequiturs whose real goal is to preserve institutional bigotry and prejudice.

That’s the same objective of today’s GOP when it comes to rights for same sex couples. For proof, just consider the abruptness of the shift: the Republican Party that spent the last decade insisting that we should simultaneously cut taxes, prosecute foreign wars and fight to limit a woman’s right to choose an abortion now suddenly says we can’t even discuss equal rights because of a recession.

The language changed not because the new “can’t walk and chew gum” mantra makes sense (seriously — would any sane person really claim that a bad economy justifies continued persecution of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people?). It changed because the cause of equal rights is involved. And, clearly, that cause is what today’s Republicans are now most committed to stopping — no matter how much their flawed logic indicts their credibility.

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the new book Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now and blogs at OpenLeft.com. Click here for more information. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter: @davidsirota.




Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

 

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.