Thoughts On The Election

By: Robert E. Meyer

Well, first off, let me admit that I was wrong! I am on record as saying that Sen. Feingold’s recommendation that President Bush be censured was Feingold’s initial salvo in his presidential election campaign. Local newspapers and national media both have just reported that Feingold has said he is not running; that makes me dead wrong, but not a liar on the issue. I say that for the benefit of people who don’t know the difference between a false assumption and a deliberate lie.

Secondly, I am disappointed, but not beleaguered, about the results of both my local and national elections. The Republicans losing the House was not too surprising, but I never expected that they would lose all six or seven closely contested Senate races. Locally, I might have been shocked by Kagen defeating Gard in the 8th district in Wisconsin, except for the fact that I followed the polls closely, and knew the race was close. Van Hollen was a pleasant surprise, as it was the state race I thought conservatives were most likely to lose.

Does this mean the country has suddenly moved to the left? I doubt it. In many cases, the Democrats won because they offered a fairly conservative alternative to Republicans who had moved toward the political middle of the road. Undoubtedly, it was also a referendum on the War in Iraq. Senator Rick Santorum was, perhaps a deviation from this general trend (a true conservative soundly defeated), although Santorum had been swimming against the tide in a very blue state for some time.
From a generational standpoint, I would say the exact opposite is true. The U.S. has gradually drifted left over the long haul. I will illustrate this a bit later. But while talking to a friend, I concluded that the use of labels like “liberal” and “conservative” probably no longer apply. Considering the leftward drift, I think I will use the new labels of Socialist vs. Centrist to represent the more than a “dime’s worth of difference” between the two major parties. The classic lib—con distinction always meets with some well meaning pseudo-erudite respondent, who wants to use dictionary definitions to discredit the applicability of the common understanding of these labels.

The voting on the state referendum questions in Wisconsin were not much of a surprise (both the Protection of Marriage Amendment and death Penalty Advisory referendum passed), unless compared to the expectations I had a year ago. I would initially have expected the Marriage referendum to pass more easily, while expecting the advisory referendum on implementing capital punishment to be rejected. In other states that voted in previous elections on marriage amendments, the actual yes votes for traditional marriage ran 7 to 10 percentage points higher than pre-election polls indicated. That was pretty much where we wound up. Proponents of same-sex marriage in Wisconsin poured a vast sum of money into defeating this amendment. The death penalty referendum probably got less opposition attention because it was not a “binding” referendum.

I never anticipated that the second question of the proposed Marriage Amendment would open the door for so much confusion. When I read it, I saw the intent of the legislative creators as fairly obvious; to avoid the creation of marriages by another name. Unfortunately, this was spun as a ploy to take benefits rights away from people. The rationale was based largely upon two specific court cases: a domestic benefits case in Michigan, and a domestic abuse case in Ohio. Neither case concerned the specific language of the Wisconsin Amendment though.

I obtained a legal brief from the offices of the non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Counsel, Attorney Don Dyke. In his brief, Mr. Dyke rendered the legal opinion that the wording of the proposed amendment, shouldn’t adversely impact the benefit status of those receiving domestic partner benefits at the pleasure of their prospective employers. He went on to quote Rep. Mark Gundrum, co-author of the legislation as such…

“…does not prohibit the state, local governments or private entities from setting up their own legal construct to provide particular privileges or benefits, such as health insurance benefits, pension benefits, joint tax return filing, hospital visitation, etc. as those bodies are able and deem appropriate. As long as the legal construct designed by the state does not rise to the level of creating a legal status ‘identical or substantially similar’ to that of marriage (i.e., marriage, but by a different name), no particular privileges or benefits would be prohibited.”

After reading this statement, I immediately realized that a judge would have little latitude to rescind benefits with respect to the Separation of Powers doctrine. Such a ruling would be against the clear intent of the legislature, so I began to suspect a political rope-a-dope was in the works to deceive people, and play on their legal ignorance and emotions. The fact that few, if any, newspapers revealed this easily obtainable information in their staff editorials, was shameful dereliction of editorial responsibility in my humble opinion.

This apparent subterfuge is now occurring in the debate about stem-cell research, where the argument continues to be falsely presented as “for research vs. against research,” whereas the correct dispute is about government funding for embryonic vs. adult stem-cell research. Missouri narrowly passed a measure that allows for limited human cloning, and I bet most citizens voting for the measure don’t know it. For details view

So what is my new course of action? Instead of spending much time convalescing from the hard knocks of this past election, I will spend more time focusing on publicly articulating and debating my polemical position on these vital contemporary issues. I hope you in “editorialand” will participate in the debate.

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