Saturday, November 20, 2004

Don't Leave, Stay and Fight

I had lunch yesterday with a long-time friend, a gay man, who is utterly abject about the presidential election's outcome. A retired gentleman of means, my friend is literally thinking of moving to Canada in the wake of the Democrats' losses.

He feels the atmosphere in Texas is too ugly to tolerate, citing anti-gay legislative proposals already pre-filed for the upcoming legislative session, and the much-ballyhooed newfound influence of the religious right in the second term Bush administration.

I think it's all a lot more complex than that, though. Here in Texas, Democrats controlled the Texas Legislature for 130 years after the Civil War, and homosexuality was banned all that time. That is, until the Republican-dominated Rehnquist court, the same court that installed President Bush even though he trailed in the popular vote, overturned the statute in Lawrence v. Texas.

My friend insisted that as a straight white man I couldn't understand how he reacted to bigotry by public officials. I replied that plenty of black folks stayed in Texas, so he could probably bear it, too. He said maybe black folks would leave if they could, and he could, but I know a lot of black people who've chosen to stay in Texas, or to move here. Certainly a lot of politicians got elected spouting anti-gay rhetoric, and they'll surely try to make their political hay. But they all ran saying no new taxes, too, and just watch how quickly that will go out the window in 2005.

Stick it out and fight, I told my friend, don't give up. No doubt some bad shit will pass. But Republicans now control the government, and more, even, than rewarding their ideological footsoldiers, they now have to make the government actually function. If they implement their agenda as stated, it won't, and voters will show them the door. Or, alternatively, and I think more likely, pragmatism will prevail, and religious right types who support Republicans will find themselves just as disappointed at the end of the day as liberals did with Democrats when they were in power.

In any case, it's not a situation improved by running, unless you're running toward the fight, not away from it.


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