Saturday, March 16, 2013

Those other people

Today, the news outlets are a-buzz after a prominent Republican U.S. Senator has come out in favor of gay marriage... pretty much standing alone (at least publicly) among his own political party.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) today publicly broke ranks with his party after what can be best described as a growing reflective conscience after revealing his son had come out to him two years ago. 

This stunning reversal, to me, is not so shocking in that some members of the GOP are finally--and slowly-- coming to the conclusion that marriage equality is inevitable, but more what prompted his reasoning.

You have to ask yourself, would a senator of Portman's stature come to such a conclusion if not for the fact he has a personal stake in this issue? Portman, as a congressman, like so many other Republicans, and to be fair, Democrats as well, voted in one of the ugliest laws of all time: The Defense of Marriage Act which purposefully ignored the Constitution by excluding a class of citizens from equal representation under the law.

I applaud him for his stance. I welcome him. I even thank him and I wonder how long before he will be censured by his party, much like Gov. Chris Christie has been since he dared to reach out to the President in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

BUT I also must be critical of him--and those of his party--as well. Why must members of the GOP have things--things they have long considered evil--shoved in their face before they can adopt  a decent, moral stance. 

Dick and Lynne Cheney, for years, refused to even dignify a discussion about their lesbian daughter Mary. It was like Mary was their deepest darkest secret love child. AND now the Portman family have "come out" in favor of gay marriage because, as the senator puts it, "knowing my son is gay has prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a Dad who wants all of his three children to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love."

So again, I have to ask. Why does something like this have to be shoved in their faces to arrive at a conclusion that will benefit his family as well as millions of others? Why is it that his son's rights are so important yet so easy to ignore those of others?

What snapped today that said, "yes, I believe my son deserves the right to marry?

This certainly points to an issue of what I consider a major flaw of the GOP. They are the party of protecting their own (yes, the Democrats do this too) at all costs until they must be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing. This stance has many correlations, that on the surface, seem unrelated.

Their Achilles heel, I believe, is that they care little for their constituents UNLESS they are part of the 1% or major corporations such as big oil and the too-big-to-fail corporations.

The GOP has no problem letting millions of Americans work for subsistence poverty-level wages rather than push for a higher minimum wage--a working wage, yet these same individuals in a moment of calloused recklessness (and a slap in the face) just earlier this year voted themselves a hefty pay raise, yet ask millions of Americans to do with less. 

And this is all the more confounding when one recognizes just how little this current Congress has accomplished, which points out why their approval ratings are at a historic low point,

The GOP has no problem asking the poor and the middle class to shoulder an increasingly higher tax burden rather than ask their rich fat cat contributors (private citizens and corporations alike) to step up to the plate.

The GOP has no problem that more and more people in this country have little or no access to adequate health care while they themselves have the best insurance that money can buy (but of course, not theirs but the taxpayers) and today, more Americans are living in poverty than any time since the great depression.

The GOP has no problem undermining the status of this country's economy by effectively enacting the sequester. Just about the only thing worse that they could accomplish would be to completely shut down our government.

The sequester hurts our government workers, our military and may, in fact, stall any chances of this nation's economic recovery. Funny thing is, they are demanding that millions of government workers take a 20% pay cut during this period of time yet I do not see them sharing in that pain.

The GOP has little problem with gutting health care for women. Basically, the legislation the Republicans have consistently tried to enact for the past decade will endanger women's lives. If they succeed in outlawing abortion, they will not change a thing. 

Poor women will continue, in time of need, get an abortion, only the setting will revert back to pre-Roe v. Wade days in alleys where hundreds of thousands of women died. And the rich, of course, will still do what they do best... take care of themselves with little regard to those beneath them.

The GOP has little problem with women earning far less than their male counterparts. It is no secret that women's wages and workers' rights issues have stagnated in recent years. Women still earn approximately 30 cents less than do men for the same jobs, for the same work.

Looking at recent comments about rape, it is obvious the GOP is the party of men, by the men, for the men and nothing but the men... they like their female folk dumb, barefoot and pregnant. AND they just.don'! Even after losing to President Obama AGAIN, even after losing a significant number of seats in the House, they are still acting as business as usual. They seem to think that since they didn't completely lose the House that the people still love them. 

Just this week, Congressman Paul Ryan denied they lost the election on the issues. Funny, I do not see his perky face residing in the White House. Can one be any more delusional?

Even after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, some members of the GOP still want to return back to those days even though military leadership has moved on and made it clear there is--and never was--a problem that they couldn't resolve (even if they, like the GOP, had to be dragged into the 21st century).

Do my accusations consist of sweeping generalities? Perhaps, to a degree, but the far right and the tea partiers have co-opted the GOP at large and they especially have subverted  the governmental process by refusing to do, what throughout history, our government has done best: rule by discussion and compromise. 

Many call the GOP the "Party of No." I personally know of some who would say the Democrats are little better. No, not surprisingly I would reject that assessment.

So here we are back to the original point of discussion. Senator Portman's proclamation, going against the rank and file of his party seems to be a brave stance, but the question remains: why? Why did it take so long for Senator Portman to see the light? Is this an act of a party member dipping his toe in the pool (for his party) to gauge public reaction?

Is it just me or does his actions seem a little too self-serving? What does the GOP stand to gain by his actions?

Time will tell, but call me dubious at best.