Congress and Wedge Issues
More and more, it seems like Congress’ main goal is not to pass legislation, but simply to bring the most divisive wedge issues into the limelight. Usually they don’t even intend for their proposed laws to be passed. The main purpose is to smear the opposition for voting against it.
Both sides have used this tactic. In 1992 the Democratic Congress passed the Family Medical Leave Act for the second year in a row. Bush Sr. had already vetoed it once, and the Democrats wanted to make him veto it again during an election year.
But Republicans have made far better use of this tactic. The Republican base just reacts more quickly and more predictably to emotional hot-button issues. Right now gay marriage and flag burning are at the top of the Republican agenda. Yup, I certainly can’t think of anything more urgent than these two Earth-shaking issues.
We’ve lost over 2,500 American soldiers in Iraq (oh that’s right, it’s “just a number”), we have a crippling deficit that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will still be paying off, and global warming predictions are getting more dire every day. But let’s put those issues aside and talk about gay marriage and flag burning.
Whatever you think of flag burning and gay marriage, you are not affected in any way by these issues. If some loser decides to set fire to the American flag, or if two guys — or two women — decide to get married, it has no effect on you whatsoever.
But these issues sure do push the emotional buttons. They come in handy if you’re affiliated with the most inept administration in our history, and/or if your own agenda goes against the interests of most Americans.
“I plan on invading every country that has something we want. I’m gonna dismantle every environmental law that’s been written in the past 50 years. And I don’t give a shit about YOU unless you have a 5-figure campaign contribution for me. Otherwise, fuck off. But hey, I hate queers and flag-burners as much as you do. Vote for me!”
And it works. It’s just unreal how easy it is to fire up millions of gullible voters just by pushing the Hate buttons.
A Democratic staffer said “There’s no question that they are trotting out their hardy perennials. They’re done purely for political gamesmanship.”
This same person doesn’t think these tactics will work as well this year as they did in 2004. “The gay marriage political ploy was a masterstroke in 2004, but it is not working this year. Voters want serious debates on serious issues, not flag burning and this other nonsense.”
Let’s hope he’s right.