Thursday, January 4, 2007
Mitt Romney's George Wallace moment
Mitt and his mentor
Ah, the "Southern strategy" returns for the GOP. That footprint gays and lesbians across Massachusetts feel on their backs these days is due to Mitt Romney using us as a stepping stone to his party's presidential nomination. The parallel is unmistakable. Just as George Wallace used racism as his presidential platform in 1968 (a position which Nixon adopted in a subtler, coded form), so Romney is using homophobia as his in 2008. Forty years have passed, but the playbook remains the same. Only ironically enough, Romney is passing the gubernatorial torch right now to a man who would have been a victim of the Wallace strategy back in '68 - Deval Patrick, the first African-American governor in Massachusetts history and only the second in U.S. history. Back in the day, Deval would have been prevented in many states from marrying the woman of his choice; today, Romney feels my freedom should be restricted in exactly the same way.
Or does he? In a 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Club, Romney wrote, "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent." But then it doesn't actually matter that his newfound passion for the "sanctity of marriage" is utterly hypocritical - the homophobes don't care. After all, they currently stomach an expectant gay parent (who used to wear a wedding ring, no less) in the bosom of the Vice President's family, and the Foley scandal doesn't seem to have shaken their faith in the GOP one jot. No, what they want is hate with a Christian face, and they're willing to ignore any level of hypocrisy to move that project forward.
So what does this mean for local culture (to get back to the usual focus of this blog)? Well, more turmoil, more hate, perhaps even some violence - and all over nothing. But there are a few points of light in the sudden gloom. There's Patrick, for one, who has defied the bigotry of some African-Americans by supporting equal marriage (thank you, Deval - you had my vote last fall, and you'll have it again if you stick by my people!). There are heartening polls that show up to two-thirds of state residents see this fight now as about civil rights. There's also a sudden, widespread realization that our great state - for so long a harbinger of progress - might suddenly fall on the wrong side of history. All this may carry us through the battle ahead. The point, however, is that the battle didn't have to happen; it's largely the result of the personal ambition of a single man.
Mitt Romney defends the sanctity of - oops!
I mean George Wallace defends the University of Alabama!