Friday, November 10, 2017

Or the Wrong Side

Postscript: GOP officer who'd vote [Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy] Moore even if he was a proven sex offender refused in 2015 to accept the legalization of gay marriage, saying "it's wrong."

"Other than being with an underage person - he didn't really force himself," Alabama Geneva County GOP chairman Riley Seibenhener tells me. "I know that's bad enough, but I don't know. If he withdraws, it's five weeks to the election...that would concede it to the Democrat."
'I Have Never Engaged In Sexual Misconduct,' Moore Says In Statement
To paraphrase from a comic book I once read, anyone can stand by a fellow party member when they're in the right; true partisanship is when you stand by someone when they're wrong. Although to be sure, a lot of people take exception to equating "legal/illegal" with "right/wrong." But while I understand that people (or at least NPR's target demographic) are intended to find the quotes that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale Tweeted "shocking," the only thing that I find mildly surprising is that people openly admit to such nakedly partisan motivations in the face of a public piety that says one should always do otherwise.

And I'm starting to think that the "rally 'round the flag" response to the accusations against Roy Moore are showing that this particular piety is starting to fade. I'm also thinking that this is a good thing. Public peities that encourage us to lie about what we're thinking, or who we are, aren't very helpful in the long run; they simply legitimize deceit in the name of avoiding being punished for, well, saying out loud that the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes. And of course, the thing about sticking to the fiction that the Emperor is well-dressed is looking intelligent in front of other people, even though one's allowed themselves to buy into the fact that it's only the foolish who see the Emperor's nakedness. But if we're going to buy into the fact that, come a general election, the only thing that matters about a candidate is the letter after their name, let's own that. It's not like, as a society, we're fooling anyone. Gerrymandering specifically requires people's voting patterns to be predictable well into the future, when state legislators don't know who will run, only that a broad majority of voters will make their selection based, in the end, on partisan affiliation. And while it's true that partisan affiliation can tell you a lot about a person, one would think that there's still some room for genuine evaluation of positions in there. (Even though, clearly, there isn't.) So if the choice comes down to a proven sex offender who holds the right political positions and a person with a clean record who doesn't, why bother to even raise an eyebrow at the "wrong" choice?

Maybe if, as a society, the United States can more easily own up to forming opinions of right/wrong or good/bad based mostly on whether a candidate mirrors back the proper politics, it will be possible to dispense with the need to link mass shooters to politicians we don't like, or declare large swaths of people heroes based on their affiliations.

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