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13 March, 2012


From award-winning blogger TransGriot, an example of a well-spoken Democrat who won't take any bullshit from his debate opponent: Maryland governor O'Malley speaks with Virginia governor McDonnell.

First, O'Malley heads off any nonsense with regards to economic arguments against Obama's administration. He doesn't distance himself from Obama, no doubt reading the wind to guess that Obama is going to have a second term, and guessing that Obama will have more visible successes during that next term. Then, he gets serious about attempts by conservatives to distract from other political problems by yanking at moral dumbfounding, rather than allowing social progress to take place with less controversy (and better role models), making room for in-depth, nuanced, intelligent debates about whatever other issues are on the table.

So, O'Malley's another southern white man in a suit, meaning that it's hard for me to condone the least pinch of trust for him, but his rhetoric makes for a good model.

Second, after have the guile and daring to say that "governor O'Malley's the only one with social issues at the top of his agenda," McDonnell makes a states rights argument on legal institutions structuring social institutions by majority vote, citing Virginia's ~60% majority vote to define marriage as being between one (I'm guessing cisgendered) man and one (likewise) woman (and when queer people are born in Virginia, do you fund their emigration? do you pay for their therapy after the bullying they'll face, do you hire bodyguards for them? or do you only care about individual rights when it's convenient?), but he also tips his hand to show the race card in discussing "Anglo-American" traditions in addition to the usual religious conviction arguments.

And then, FUCK OF ALL FUCKS, this joker argues that "intact two-parent [hetero] families", where by "intact" he means that any other family structure is missing something, like the body of an amputee, are empirically the best (by what standard? and I'm sure that any problems faced by children in those families couldn't possibly be due to outside social stigma or disparities in institutional support, no way1), and that any other families are the reason we are obliged to spend money on social services.

And when is a Republican -- or, hell, any politician -- going to point out that among the reasons we are spending a thousandfold more money on war than on taking care of people at home are that businesses and trade agreements in the U.S. are creating unstable economic conditions elsewhere; that, as in Afghanistan, international conflicts like those between the USA and the USSR created traumatic and unstable conditions in a host of less powerful regions; that, as in central America before and in Iraq just recently, businessmen within the US become politicians, make choices that destabilize other countries, and then, in the aftermath, hand out building contracts to US companies or replacing existing leaders with kleptocracies -- the time-honored "banana republic" maneuver -- to create new opportunities for profit, after which (like any high-profile politician) they can retire and grow wealthy on corporate "consultant" positions; that (as in the ongoing situation with Iran) we lead with threats rather than seeking understanding and peace ... not to mention the host of other issues decried by conservatives but created by the States, such as the immigration from Mexico spurred in part by the NAFTA-created damage to the Mexican economy.

Instead, THIS is the debate that we're having. WHAT THE FUCK, folks. What the fuck.

And that doesn't even delve into issues in the corporate realm apart from their relationships with the State, such as the way that advertisements focus on appearance and functionality rather than on sources of the goods or the ways in which everyday products that we support contribute to situations that we bemoan -- for example, see page 10 of this summary report (but don't stop there).

So, where are our priorities?

O'Malley is right about the Right: get them into office, and they will nail you hard at home and at work. He isn't speaking to the middle, though (there is no Left in the United States' national arena and hasn't been since before I was born) about the Dems' silence on these larger issues. To undermine the conservative ideologies that currently hold sway over so many of our minds in the States, and to prevent those ideologies from spreading to similarly less disadvantaged countries like our more reasonable but flagging neighbor Canada (also a perpetrator of imperialism at home, let's not forget), we need to make the conversations more complex. People need to seek access to the long version of every story, to seek access to data solid enough to let us judge for ourselves, and to care long enough to sustain our attention and reach proper conclusions. Otherwise, we are allowing ourselves to wreak havoc not only at home but also far afield. Something -- everything -- is broken, both at the end of the state and media and at the end of every individual citizen who isn't both outraged and speaking up about it.

If we're going to keep obeying the words written by suits in offices, then what I want -- what I need -- is a little faith in my institutions.

1: For example, the following papers find social stigma or violence by majority members to be a cause of psychological and other problems:

"How does sexual minority stigma “get under the skin”? A psychological mediation framework."

"LGBT Identity, Violence, and Social Justice: The Psychological Is Political."

"Voices from the heart: The developmental impact of a mother's lesbianism on her adolescent children."

"Wellness in Adult Gay Males: Examining the Impact of Internalized Homophobia, Self-Disclosure, and Self-Disclosure to Parents."



  1. Oh, those videos are way too big. Maybe I'll fix it after I get some papers graded tonight.

  2. "...where by "intact" he means that any other family structure is missing something, like the body of an amputee..."

    I think this is somewhat ableist, and that many amputees, or people born without a particular limb(s) or part(s) thereof, might object to their inclusion in this particular simile.

    As to your points about the harm the world is done when we collectively focus on maintaining the heteropatriarchy (gosh darn I love that word) in lieu of looking at, you know, actual problems that we're facing, I agree entirely.

  3. On the one hand: that sentence gave me pause, too. On the other, I chose to include it for a few reasons. For one, in saying "amputee," I'm talking specifically about people who have lost something rather than people who were born different, and that was a conscious move: McDonnell is saying that difference is a loss. I take issue with the idea that any family other than a white-bread straight couple is not "intact" in that sense. I'd also like to emphasize, in order to clarify my own rhetoric, that McDonnell is the one playing off the value-laden idea that there's something wrong with such a difference. It seems to me that, if my words perpetuate that idea (and if so, that was a grave flaw on my part), it's because they re-present and amplify McDonnell's rhetoric with the goal of making his implicit maneuvers explicit: he's recruiting the notion of severance and associated value judgments, describing difference as incompleteness relative to some pattern that he and many others idealize. He's working off the idea that being "intact" means meeting a certain definition, and he's also playing off existing value judgments that to be "intact" is best (rather than believing that the way we treat people, at a systemic level, is what causes problems). If, in trying to point that out, I crossed the same line, I apologize; I hope that having this clarification will be sufficient to balance that out.