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GOP is wasting our time

June 18, 2006 12:50 am

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Activists with the Human Rights Campaign protest a proposed Federal Marriage Amendment that would have formally established marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The measure got one more vote in the Senate than it had during a previous try, but ultimately failed.

SAME-SEX marriage. Really, who cares? Something like 45 states have some sort of prohibition on the books. Besides, if Jack and John or Jill and Jane want to tie the knot, whether the unions are recognized under the law or not, how is that going to affect anyone else, or ruin society in general?

Generally, if there's something you're against, the worst thing you can do is draw attention to it. But that's what some people do once they choose today's moral Armageddon.

Same-sex marriage is in the news now because a small group of right-wing Republican leaders--at President Bush's behest--wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban it. They think they can rally the party's core supporters for the off-year elections this fall. That's right, to generate momentum for the whole GOP, this Republican subgroup is pushing an issue that only 0.5 percent of American voters have on their radar of primary concerns.

The Republican contingent knew the measure's chances were slim at best. Are they not seeing the polls that everyone else does? But they pursued it instead of anything worthwhile, such as learning why FEMA has paid more than $1 billion in fraudulent Katrina claims, or arranging to drop a couple of 500-pound bombs on Ann Coulter for taking conservatism to new lows.

After being voted into oblivion by the Senate, which wasted three legislative days on it, the same-sex marriage amendment is still due to come before the House of Representatives in July for the sole purpose of providing political ammunition in an election year--ammo that would hardly inflict a flesh wound on the opposition.

After the plan goes nowhere in the House, perhaps there should be a vote to change the meaning of "GOP" from "Grand Old Party" to "Gluttons of Punishment."

Father's Day is an appropriate day to consider this issue. I reflect today on how fortunate I am to have two wonderful kids who are our pride and joy, in spite of the burden they add to our major household appliances. My focus is on them, my own family, my own neighborhood. How others choose to lead their lives is not my concern.

That's the American way. It's not my job to impose my values on anyone else, and I'll vote against any politician who would do that. How boring it would be if we were all the same. That there are so many people following so many different paths keeps things interesting and dynamic.

Finally, if people believe that one father is better than none, there are probably some kids up for adoption out there who might think two dads are better than none as well.

The same-sex marriage amendment is not the only fluff on the Republican agenda right now. GOP leaders want to run the old anti-flag-burning amendment up the pole to see if anyone salutes.

This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that desecrating the flag falls under protected speech. Is there a lot of flag-burning going on that I haven't heard about? If someone feels the need to protest by burning a flag, why should I care? It's a shame that anyone would feel the need to protest in that manner, but I think the nation will survive.

There is no shortage of American flags--just check your local Wal-Mart. If some idiots get drunk and burn a flag, I'd rather they do that than drive a car under the influence, or burn a cross.

The Republican message is clear. The party wants to divert attention from the ineptitude of the Bush administration in hopes of limiting the significant hit it will take this fall in Congress. But the chosen topics scream that the party is at a loss for a something viable to push.

If you favor the Democratic approach to things, it would seem that Washington is ripe for change. And the alternative?

For more years than they care to admit, Democrats at one level or another across the country have searched for a message that resonates with the voters. Finally, there is one staring them in the face: "We're not Republicans."

While the GOP is doing a pretty good job of turning off voters on its own, some Democrats believe that their party still needs a positive message to offer. But that's by no means unanimous. Some insist that presenting real issues only gives Republicans a target to shoot at.

The red-state/blue-state mentality has not only made politics more divisive and belligerent, it has also bred an unwillingness to express bold new ideas.

Is this any way to run a political system? Two parties: One is too mired in its own mistakes to present an agenda of any value; the other so uncertain of its direction that it would rather let nature take its course.

Is it any wonder that so many voters are disillusioned with politics and politicians? I'm really looking forward to 2008, but I'm not sure why.

***

I love feedback, both positive and negative, because it indicates people are reading and thinking and expressing or shaping their opinions. I also appreciate hearing from people who just want to say, "Thanks for the heads-up."

Last August I wrote about mail my mom was receiving from sweepstakes companies, based mostly in Las Vegas, saying she'd won big money. All she had to do was send in a $20 fee and the millions would be on their way.

Like many other Americans, especially older ones, she took the bait and initiated a flood of such letters. They all offered big bucks in exchange for a fee.

Week after week they came, sometimes more than one a day, most coming from the same outfits asking for just one more payment to free up the winnings.

I urged people to trash those mailings because they are, at best, expensive lotteries, or, at worst, pure scams. If someone is going to give you $3 million, why should that cost you $20?

Thanks to that column's being on the Internet, I still get e-mails from people across the country saying thanks.

What I especially like about that is that people decided to do some research before they got themselves involved with those things. They were wary, because they realize that anything that seems too good to be true probably is. And the fewer people who participate, the less the incentive for these companies to do business.

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor for the Free Lance-Star.





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