Yesterday, I hung out with a group of progressive political blogger types, celebrating the recent Democratic victories in Virginia and New Jersey, though I still have my misgivings about the Kaine victory and what it might mean for the future. Like I said before, I can’t help wondering if one of the outcomes of the “Republican revolution” might be making the Democratic party itself more conservative.
I’m not the only one thinking about this and wondering what it means. Steve Miller of Independent Gay Forum makes a couple of interesting points about the Kaine victory and the Casey/Santorum race in Pennsylvania.
I’ve noted before how Democrat Tim Kaine, newly elected as Virginia’s next governor, opposes changing that state’s law in order to allow gays to adopt, and now favors adding an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state’s constitution. His mentor, outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, signed a bill outlawing civil unions. Democrats are heralding Kaine’s victory as a sign of the party’s renewal.
In the Pennsylvania race running against vile homophobe Santorum, Democrat Casey explicitly favors abortion restrictions. On gay marriage, National Review Online reports “he’s also against gay marriage but doesn’t want a constitutional debate over it,” which is certainly preferable to Santorum’s anti-gay demogoging.
…I’m not sure what to make of this new Democratic trend of trying to woo Red state voters on the “moral” issues. A Casey victory (and yes, against Santorum, he’s clearly the better of two evils) would further the push for Democrats to hew closer to social conservatism. It will be interesting to see how far they feel they can go with this.
I’ll say it again. The question is, if Democrats drift right on certain social issues in order to court more conservative voters as a route back into power, is there really any possibility that they’ll be able to drift back to remotely progressive positions on issues that are of great importance to their traditional constituencies? My guess? Not bloody likely.
Do we need to look any further than the example of the Republican party and the religious right? In politics, you tend to dance with the one who brought you to the party, no matter how many times you step on each other toes or how often you fight over who’s going to lead. It’s just the price you pay to keep dancing. Changing partners can be done, but it’s messy, and once you make the switch you better make it stick if you want to stay on the dancefloor.
If this rightward drift is real, where does that leave traditional Democratic constituencies, like gays and pro-choice advocates, as we head towards 2006 and beyond? If the choices are between the Republicans and a more conservative Democratic party that’s backing away from those issues? Well, there’s always that line of chairs along the wall.
Update: Chris Geidner has post, celebrating gay victories in Ohio’s local elections, with an interesting take on how things went in his state.
Folks, this is amazing. One year ago, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to dismiss lesbian and gay couples as unworthy of basic, civil recognition. On Tuesday, though, more than 69,100 Ohioans voted to have an LGBT person represent them in city government or on the school board.
From the that perspective, gays in Ohio certainly had some significant victories. As the national party appears to be testing a rightward drift on social issues, it may be that gay and lesbian communities will have better results in state and local politics than on the national scene.
Whether that’s a good thing or a not-so-good thing (not a bad thing because, let’s face it, winning is winning), it’s too early for me to tell. It occurs to me that uneven progress across the states is better than none at all, yet I also suspect that route to change will take a longer time to travel