April 7, 2016 at 10:46 am EDT | by Richard J. Rosendall
Avoid These Election-Year Mistakes
election-year, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image by Real Callahan; courtesy Bigstock)

We see words of caution everywhere: “Do not drive with sunshield in place.” “Do not use thermometer orally after using rectally.” “Do not iron clothes on body.” As I study manufacturers’ warning labels, I sometimes wonder what geniuses are buying their products. In a similar vein, partisan elections reveal impaired judgment in political consumers.

Perhaps you have noticed this. Your friend or relative, whose sensibleness and decency you generally respect, has decided to support Candidate X, whose brazen ignorance and naked opportunism your friend fails to recognize. Your friend is determined to see nothing but virtue in this candidate, and nothing but vice in rival candidates.

Because I care, I have compiled a list of election-year missteps we can all be on the lookout to avoid. (Note: This list is inevitably arbitrary and idiosyncratic. I therefore encourage my smart and savvy readers to share their own examples.)

Just because you get annoyed by Anderson Cooper’s fits of giggling does not make him wrong when he observes that Donald Trump talks like a five-year-old.

Just because Sen. Lindsey Graham is a closet case who overcompensates by advocating unnecessary wars does not take away the lucid moment when he said choosing between Trump and Ted Cruz was “like being shot or poisoned.”

Just because Paul Ryan is good looking and not Donald Trump is no reason to let him make the next three Supreme Court appointments. The Court’s gutting of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 unleashed aggressive voter suppression efforts by his party from Arizona to Wisconsin. So do us all a favor and moon over someone else’s workout pics.

Just because Bernie Sanders raises legitimate calls for reform does not chart a successful revolution. Meanwhile, the #BernieOrBust pledge, which would hand victory to the GOP, is fine for people who can lament other people’s suffering from their places of privilege.

Just because you think Hillary Clinton is too cozy with Wall Street does not require a side eye for her proposal to rein in large financial institutions, her diplomatic efforts against a nuclear Iran, her lifelong support for children’s and women’s rights, or her launch of a global LGBT initiative. Painting nasty caricatures is a dangerous game given the hate being stoked across the aisle.

Just because only 42 percent of American Muslims support marriage equality is no reason to make common cause with Islamophobes who think that number is too high.

Just because Republican Sen. Mark Kirk has a 78 percent score from the Human Rights Campaign compared to Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth’s perfect score does not mean HRC doesn’t have its reasons for endorsing Kirk. You don’t have to get mad at HRC in order to agree with LPAC and support Duckworth. By the way, it’s a bit silly to join the #DivestFromHRC movement when you weren’t giving them money in the first place.

Just because North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is a lying bastard does not make it okay to insult the children of unmarried parents. While we’re on the subject of the anti-LGBT bills racing through Red State legislatures, let me say that just because someone repeats “men in dresses” a hundred times does not make his ignorance of gender variance any less glaring, and does not change the fact that, based on past experience, you are likelier to receive unwelcome contact in a public bathroom from a United States senator than from a transwoman.

Just because your husband cheated on you does not mean you have to trade him in for someone who beats you. This is a metaphor for dumping imperfect Democrats in favor of Republicans who are worse. At the same time, just because going home alone can be sensible in personal relations does not make it smart to stay home on Election Day. You can go without a lover, but someone is going to be sworn in as president next January 20.

Spoiler alert: In William Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily,” the title character turns out to have been sleeping beside her lover’s corpse. If Paul Ryan can have Ayn Rand, I can have Southern Gothic. Neither, however, is a reliable basis for public policy.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at rrosendall@starpower.net.

Copyright © 2016 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

  • I never expected to see so much chaos in an election season, especially among partisans of both parties at the same time. It’s enough to question my faith in democracy to see so much animus spread all around. I hope that if for no reasons other than simple self-preservation, LGBT people can get over their differences and vote for the Democratic nominee, whichever person that is, in the general election in November. It really is all about the SCOTUS.

    • The notion that a guy who does not even rise to the level of a half-Democrat could lead the Democratic Party to victory is laughable on its face.

      Wednesday night in Philadelphia, Bernie Sanders demonstrated he is nothing more than another expedient, hypocritical protest politician– but now, with a whiff of sexism to his increasingly personal campaign.

      What a surprise that popular ‘wise’ man Sanders– suddenly facing tougher, more equitable tests of Democrats’ primary election preferences– felt he had to publicly demonize Hillary Clinton’s overwhelming qualifications to be president– and in front of a whooping crowd.

      What a surprise that pop wise man Sanders chose to whip his young crowd into a frenzy– by again demonizing Hillary Clinton’s “nervous” remarks about Sanders’ own dubious qualifications to be president.

      I think millions of Democrats thought Sanders should have known better than to employ divisive, demonizing rhetoric with implied sexism, so as to conflate that rhetoric with noble ‘revolutionary’ goals.

      And why did Sanders choose Philadelphia– a city sacred to American civilization’s history and psyche– as the place to do that?

      Bernie Sanders owes Hillary Clinton a very public apology for his barely disguised sexism Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Even with that, I doubt I could ever support Sanders, now, for anything.

      True Democratic political leaders and candidates should be held to a much higher standard when it comes to employing even a hint of sexism, racism, homophobia or transphobia– especially when trying to please large, emotional crowds.

      Confidence in the current leadership of the Democratic Party is confirmed by the overwhelming and growing delegate count in favor of its most qualified candidate for president. That is, *most qualified* by far, and in several generations.

      Moreover, the party’s future lies with Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro.

      Apparently, Bernie Sanders will now spend months more trying to personally tear down Hillary Clinton while making overblown, blue-sky promises Sanders knows full well he can’t possibly keep.

      No Democrat need support those kind of tactics and that kind of campaign demagoguery. Ever.

    • There is far more at stake than SCOTUS! You’re everything wrong with this country! Shame on you! P.S. GARLAND is a Republican.

      • I’m everything wrong with this country? No. What screws this country up are the “true believers” left and right who cannot bear to live in a country that doesn’t reflect their values 100%. You guys make it impossible to get anything done because incremental change isn’t good enough, and you would rather destroy the country than have it function in a way other than your utopian vision.

  • Any party that sees TED CRUZ as its savior from a demagogue who would bring it down to flaming ruin is doomed. And justifyably so.

  • My favorite part of this article was the thermometer warning. Makes me want to run out to the store and find one to see if the packaging actually says that. Precious.


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