Here's a story that won't get much attention, and it probably shouldn't. But it demonstrates one my biggest frustrations with politics right now.
A gay activist thought he'd host a fundraiser for a Democratic state senate candidate in New Paltz, New York. He found out that the Dem doesn't support same-sex marriage, so he un-invited him from the funder. Here's Democrat Harley Doles' statement on the flap:
"When I understand the issue of gay marriage, I certainly understand the need for him to pursue what he considers to be a right that he believes he is entitled to," he said. "Mine as a State Senate district candidate is to represent the majority of the people in this community."
In other words, Doles is a hack.
There's lots of room to disagree and discuss the issue, and I'd be the first to say that same-sex marriage is more complicated than "for = awesome/against = hateful bigot."
But the "I have to represent my district against my own beliefs" reasoning always seems to work in one direction and only applies to certain issues. When the health care bill was being discussed in Congress and most Americans supported a government-run health care option, how many Senators did we hear saying they had to vote for it to represent their constituents? How many Senators have come out and said that they oppose ENDA themselves but will vote for it because it's what their constituents want? What about the current debate on the Bush tax cuts? Most people want them not to be extended on the extremely wealthy; how many federal representatives will use that as an excuse to vote for them?
I would find something more to respect in Doles if he just said that he doesn't like the idea of two dudes getting hitched and left it at that. Does he have polling to show that his constituents don't support same-sex marriage? Did he consider how strongly the various camps feel in his district? Did he consider the fact that New Paltz, for a brief moment, had same-sex marriage and does he know how people reacted to that? What does he believe is his role in government if his just going to enact only what his constituents want?
Or does he just think that this issue is toxic, doesn't really care one way or the other, and just feels guilty being called out on his position? Because that's about as explicit as he could get, that statement, to saying that he's just thinking about advancing a political career. If he has any talent and rises through the ranks, he'll be bought-and-paid-for by whatever special interest has enough money to get he vote in a few years.
Good for him, but not for the political system. Whatever happened to the liberal true believers?