In justifying running a liberal in a fairly conservative district, PZ brings up the fact that the Democrats should stop moving to the right, as this shifts the center to the right. What I’d like to see liberals emphasize more than the need to be moderate to win is the need to show that the gamut of political opinions doesn’t range from the Clintons to Brownback.

To wit, take gay rights. In Kingdom Coming, Goldberg notes that the rise of Dominionism has caused gay rights in the US to recede, with various initiatives removing equal protection from gays and the marriage amendment. But the marriage amendment merely codified an existing situation, in which gay couples have no right to marry, and the vast majority of states still protect gay rights. In fact in 2003 the Supreme Court finally struck down sodomy laws, representing a big stride forward.

And right now, if every gay rights issue came to a federal referendum, the US would have gays in the military, gay adoption, equal protection for gays, and civil unions.

The immense leftward shift on gay rights over the last 15 years has been caused precisely by the fact that gay rights organizations didn’t give a damn about looking moderate. The attorneys who argued the gay marriage case in Massachusetts didn’t stop to take polls; they went ahead to secure civil rights, and thereby legitimized single-sex marriage as a mainstream liberal position. It may have energized conservatives to be more anti-gay, but it also goaded the moderates to support civil unions, which up until 2001 were a fringe stance in the US.

Once in a while, it makes sense to sacrifice an agenda issue, especially in a radical change of circumstances. With the US 8 trillion dollars in debt, budget balancing is necessary, even though many leftists would rather run deficits. If the US were in a real war, even higher defense spending would be justifiable.

What isn’t justifiable is moving to the right just for the sake of winning. If you’re lucky, you’ll win one election and then lose the next unless you move to the right once again. If you’re not, enough people will ditch you that you’ll lose; the Democrats who deemphasize abortion, like Kos, fail to understand just how important the pro-choice vote is to the Democratic Party.

Going back to the issue PZ is talking about, evolution, it’s good for the Democrats to take the cause of science. The median American voter thinks the same things about evolution as she* did twenty years ago, despite an enormous PR campaign meant to legitimize creationism. If PZ Myers were given the same funding Bruce Chapman has, the US would be 3-to-1 evolutionist within 20 years.

The Democrats are letting petty issues like sexual harassment scandals distract them from the fact that they can win on issues. They can take the causes of immigration, gay rights, and evolution and use them as wedge issues against the Republicans. All it takes is for them to stop being afraid of their own shadows.

* Most American voters are female; hence the median American voter is always a she.


8 Responses to Center-Shifting

  1. SLC says:

    Where did this information that most Americans voters are female come from? If that were the case, we would be taling about the succession to President Gore now.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    CNN’s 2004 exit poll says 54% of voters are female.

  3. DJA says:

    If that were the case, we would be taling about the succession to President Gore now.

    Well, you know, funny thing…

  4. Cy says:

    Regarding the shifting left or right, Honesty is the best Policy and if the voters like it, good. If they do not, then either more fool them, or more fool you, but at least to thyself thou wast true.

    As to the real issue, when War has been Declared on you, do not pretend it is a Crime problem. Accept the Declaration of War, Declare a State of War with Emergency Powers, win, and then Declare Peace and the freedoms return at a stroke.

    USA and UK ought both to have taken this neither Left nor Right approach.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    Cy, when nonstate entities declare war on you, it’s not really a war. Right-wing militias were effectively at war with the US in the 1990s; the US didn’t declare war and impose martial law in Idaho.

  6. Cy says:

    Alon, I am indeed aware that the conventionally accepted protocol has said that War is only declared by nation-states or on nation-states. In my comment above, I performed the dishonest trick in argument of ignoring the convention and assuming the rules were changed, begging the question in fact.

    Now I will be straightforward. The enemy has ignored the international rules as we now have them via the protocols incorporated in the League of Nations, United Nations Organisation, Geneva Convention, and Declaration of Human Rights. But the scale of the attack is so great that we have entered a different world where different rules must, in all natural reality, apply.

    Human individuals and institutions are imperfect, a work in progress. We can but try to be fair and balanced in our treatment of others, and let future historians judge our efforts. Every convention in human society, and between human societies, is an inmvention, although founded in natural behaviour. It is time to make a new rule, convention, protocol. If an entity declares war on you, you Declare War right back.

    Cy of

  7. Cy says:

    PS: Please edit out the surplus ‘m’ in the word invention. I forget the second half of what I needed to say. Please delete this first paragraph.

    My CONCERN is that we will have no tool, protocol or device through which we can, at a stroke, automatically, without a prolonged fight in the legislature, RETURN our FREEDOMS. A formal Declaration that War is over, enables and indeed constitutes an end to the Emergency Rule and all its infringement on our freedoms.

    At the end of World War 2, when I was nearly five years old, farms, factories and the workers themselves had to be liberated step-by-step as supplies permitted from the war-tike restrictions and compulsory-directions. The government controls could not be kept in force indefinitely because it would not have been legal.

    At present, it might appear to the anti-Bush camp, that the Administration is refusing to Declare War in order to, under alleged Peace conditions, use the attack as an excuse to increase government control over the people.

    That is a seductive idea. I would myself happily order the shooting of the entire prison population if I were the one in power. Then erect a monumnet to the Unknown Innocents. I suspect that many of those in prison would love to do the same thing, provided they, as self-perceived just unlucky guys, were spared and given another chance. )

    Given that I am not the one in power, I am not quite so inclined to approve the China model here, although my Mr Spock logic tells me that it would be a price worth paying. But then Repeal of Prohibition could, at a stroke, bring back the peace in the projects (USA), estates (Engfland), and schemes (Scotland) that we used to know.

    But back on the subject of the real enemy (I do not refer to theism itself, in the very long term) the current worst manifestation of theism, there are no doubts in my mind. If it waddles like a war, and twaddles like a war, and threatens our freedoms like a war, it is not a war, it is a War and ought to be Declared.


  8. Cy says:

    Sorry messed up again:

    …step-by-step as supplies permitted a withdrawal from the war-time restrictions and…

    …erect a monument to the Unkown Inncoents…


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