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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Other Views

Campaign 2004 agenda: fear

Opinion by Pat Murphy

When the Cold War stalemate between the Soviets and United States petered out, there was an agonizing moment when political brain trusts that devise presidential campaign strategies worried there’d be no villains for future elections.

You remember those days: Candidate A was tougher at standing up to the Russkies and would build more nuclear weapons than Candidate B.

There also was a secondary issue: Democrats were bankrupting the country. Republicans would balance the budget and have a surplus.

No worry. Not only does Campaign 2004 have the vague threat—"credible" threat, that is—about terrorists roaming the world and planning an Election Day attack on the United States, but the Bush-Cheney team has found an even more powerful fear to spread that should strike dread and foreboding into the hearts of millions of gullible Americans—the certainty that gays and lesbians will destroy the Sacred Institution of Marriage with same-sex wedlock.

They must be stopped—stopped, do you hear! (Forget balanced budgets and surpluses as GOP virtues: Republicans now favor deficits and debt.)

Chicken Little of "The Sky is Falling" fame would be proud of this scare mongering.

Fear of same-sex marriage gets plenty of panicky attention and keeps followers in line. Those who think for themselves will conclude that gays can’t destroy marriage any more than rock ‘n’ roll could destroy classical music and obliterate the works of Gershwin or Tchaikovsky.

And the potential number of gay same-sex marriages is less than the number of heterosexual divorces every year.

The proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, if it survives in the Senate, would need ratification by 38 states and could take years for an up or down vote. By then, same-sex marriages would have continued—as well as heterosexual nuptials that Chicken Littles of the right claim would be destroyed.

(The same sort of trumped up fear is at work in the proposed flag desecration amendment to ban abuse of Old Glory: if a few flag burners aren’t stopped—stopped, do you hear!—American patriotism will be destroyed.)

What’s so stunning about this drumbeat of fear and trepidation out of the bowels of the Republican camp is this: the party that champions less and less government control on business is Hell-bent on using fear to concoct more government police powers to control personal behavior and speech.

There were plenty of early warnings that were ignored. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Patriot Act was passed in fear of terrorists—but has been used to badger Americans. Americans wouldn’t have approved of attacking Iraq if the truth were told—they were callously panicked into believing in an imminent doomsday threat (phony) to the United States.

For Americans who don’t like what’s happening to their country, Vice President Cheney will tell you what you can do about it.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.