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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The argument is over and conservatives have lost. Some of them just don’t know it yet.

That’s the takeaway from the remarkable events of last week wherein the states of Indiana and Arkansas executed high-speed U-turns — we’re talking skid marks on the tarmac — on the subject of marriage equality. Legislatures in both states, you will recall, had passed so-called “religious freedom” laws designed to allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. In Indiana, the governor had already signed the bill and was happily dissembling about the discriminatory nature and intent of the new law.

Then reality landed like the Marines at Guadalcanal.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence made a fool of himself on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” five times refusing to answer a simple yes or no question about whether the bill would protect a business that refused to serve gay people. Angie’s List, which is headquartered in the state, delayed a planned expansion. NASCAR, the NCAA, the NFL, the NBA, the WNBA, and a host of businesses condemned the law. Conventions pulled out and some states and cities even banned government-funded travel to Indiana.

Down in Arkansas, where similar legislation awaited his signature, Gov. Asa Hutchinson was no doubt watching with interest as Pence was metaphorically shot full of holes. Then he received a tap on the shoulder from a very heavy hand. Walmart, the largest retailer on Earth, born and headquartered in Arkansas, urged a veto, saying the bill “does not reflect the values we proudly uphold.”

Both governors promptly got, ahem, religion. Hutchinson sent the measure back to legislators for revision. Pence signed a measure to “fix” a law whose glories he had spent so much time touting.

And here, a little context might be instructive. Twenty years ago, you recall, we were essentially arguing over the right of gay people to exist. The debate then was over whether they could serve in the military, adopt children, be fired or denied housing because of their sexuality, Ten years ago, public opinion on most of those issues having swung decisively, we were fighting over whether or not they could get married. Ten years later, that point pretty much conceded, we are arguing over who should bake the cake.

The very parameters of the debate have shifted dramatically to the dreaded left. Positions the GOP took proudly just 20 years ago now seem prehistoric and its motivations for doing so, threadbare. This is not about morality, the constitution or faith. It never was.

No, this is about using the law to validate the primal sense of “ick” that still afflicts some heterosexuals at the thought of boys who like boys and girls who like girls. And the solution to their problem is three words long: Get over it.

Or, get left behind. Consider again what happened last week: Put aside NASCAR, the NBA and Angie’s List: Walmart is, for better and for worse, the very embodiment of Middle-American values. To rephrase what Lyndon Johnson said of Walter Cronkite under vastly different circumstances, if you have lost Walmart, you have lost the country.

On gay rights, conservatives just lost Wal-Mart.

The adults on the right (there are some) understand that they are out of step with the mainstream, which is why they’d just as soon call a truce in the so-called “culture wars.” The fanatical, id-driven children on the right (there are far too many) would rather drive the GOP off a cliff than concede. Somebody needs to sit them down and explain that when you have taken an execrable stand and been repudiated for it as decisively as the right has been, you only have two options: Change your stand, or shut your mouth.

At this point, either one will do.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected])

Photo: The Searcher via Flickr

  • TZToronto

    The tide comes in, noatter how hard you try to stop it. Praying won’t help.

    • Charles van Rotterdam

      Yes Canute

      • TZToronto

        Glad you caught that–even with my lousy typing.


    • Robert Eckert

      You can’t explain that!

  • bobnstuff

    As long as the right has a loud voice you will have to put up with their hate speech. They believe they are the majority. There are people that play on this fact and lead them like the sheep they are for their own gain. The right will believe anything their masters tell them even if it goes against all the facts. They don’t want to understand, they just want to live in their safe ignorance.

    • TZToronto

      Have you ever gone to a rally for some fairly unpopular but worthy cause and come away invigorated, confident that right is on your side, and that the world will come over to your side? In reality, you are still the same small group you were before the rally, and people on the outside don’t even know you or your cause exist. Well, that’s the way it is with the religious far right–except that they live that rally experience all day every day. Their reality is not the reality of most people, but they think that everyone’s coming over to their side. It’s not happening, but they don’t know it.

      • bobnstuff

        Give a group their own TV channel and they believe it’s all true and everyone believes the same as they do. If you think about they are called sheep in the bible so I guess it does make sense that they would follow a Judas Goat

        • TZToronto

          Oooh! Nicely done!

  • John Murchison

    My, my the trolls are silent here. It’s funny how crickets are often the hallmarks of the end of a battle.

  • Alvin Harrison

    Ka Boom…America has spoken …fight it at your peril GOP.

  • m s 57

    Bill Buckley once said that the true Conservative stands astride the rails of progress and says “Obstruct”. The practice of Conservatives is akin to saying that if eating fruits and veggies is good for your health, eat less of them.

  • JohnJ

    There are some cases where there are successes against the hate and misdirection, but remember this, the banking elites reduced the net money of 90% of Americans in the years leading to the acknowledged crash in 2008 and yet they were able to get Republican wins in 2010. Until we find a way to counteract the poisons of Fox and right wing radio as well as the tamer yet still mega-corp controlled other media we will have a hard time restoring democracy.

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      The biggest US banks are also populated by the most arrogant men. Just recently, when Senator Elizabeth Warren threatened to fine banks for refusing to comply with the banking reforms that were intended to put a stop to taxpayer bailouts, one CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon responded: “So hit me with a fine. We can afford it.”

      What does this tell you? It tells me that such arrogance cannot be controlled by fines…It’s jail time.

      • hicusdicus

        I don’t want to cause you to have a seizure but for once you are right on the money and I completely agree with you. People with that kind of capital base don’t concern themselves with the law. Its always been like that except with the internet more people are made aware of it. People who have more always screw over people who have less.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          Well, pick me up from the floor! So we finally can agree on something. Bless your little soul.

          So, let me pick your brain. If, as you posted, the internet makes people more aware of the lawlessness of the “few,” what impact do you think that will have in the future?

          Court of public opinion being what it has always been, will the Justice Dept. ever admit they make a grave mistake when they perpetuate a “them” and “us” type of punishment for law breakers?

          • hicusdicus

            You need to stay off the floor, it always seems to get you in trouble. The one place justice does not flourish is in the justice dept. To get afoul with them will truly turn into a GRAVE mistake.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            The reality is that the Justice Dept. has not done its job. Can anyone with a shred of intelligence actually believe Madoff hid $62 billion in profit under his mattress?

          • hicusdicus

            The justice dept is run by the government and the government runs on money. So you fill in the blanks.

    • wjca

      More self (loudly) proclaimed conservatives should read Adam Smith:
      “The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.”

      Not that there are all that many real conservatives on the vocal reactionary right.

    • plc97477

      Faux and right wing radio is going to be easy compared to getting rid of gerrymandering.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The real in depth problem of the GOP’s cultural war is their inability to live in the present. Everything they say and do has something to do with death, the dead or long ago past history. When you consider the effect this has on younger generations in the south and midwest, you why they appear to be so backward.

    They suffer from resistance to anything in the present. How on earth can any youngster living in these regions of the country ever feel comfortable in progressive schools and colleges? They can’t. They are as out of place as a pair of worn out shoes on a bride.

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone then why these are the states that breed mass murderers in greatest volume and why every word out of their politicians mouths is “business.” They want business to run as it did in their ancient cultures: monolithically and by a single dominant white male.

    In their view, all people must live as they do. All of us in the blue states are support to work harder and harder for less so every dime of our states’ federal taxes end up in theirs. How is that NOT a plantation mentality? Worse, how won’t that breed a mass revolt?

    • Live in the present? That’s really funny coming from the cat lady.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        And coming from a CON who lives with Grim Death Goth and the rest of the antebellum BS, I’d say you are the hypocrite.

        By the way, get a life. The one you live is too far in the past to be credible dearie.

        • BillP

          Now Eleanore don’t go feeding the trolls, they will hang around if you do that, kind of like pigeons. Well that would be an insult to the pigeons, they do tend to have a higher intellect.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Rofl…True …I keep forgetting their mentality is too low to bother with…lol.

      • bobnstuff

        You have a problem living in realty. You think we are in 1950’s Eastern Europe, and the USSR is trying to take us over. As has been said we are now fighting over who bakes the cake not over the wedding.

  • Paul Bass

    Leonard nails it, we are now just fighting over who makes the cake.
    Obviously the vast majority of Americans feel this is not an issue, so the so-called “religious” right needs to just follow or get out of the way, since they can’t lead…

  • Dominick Vila

    The GOP strategy to win the “Culture War” is a three prong approach limited to low taxes, taking advantage of ancient prejudices, and fear mongering. It remain to be seen whether or not the American electorate is naive enough to buy, again, the concept of trickle down economics; if the hatred and intolerance that characterized life in the USA half a century ago remains latent and is still a deciding factor for a majority of voters; and if there are still enough Americans checking under their beds before going to sleep to make sure commies – or perhaps more timely, Muslims – are hiding there ready to strike.

    • Sounds more like the communist democratic party, Dom.

      • Lemmy Caution

        “communist democratic party”

        What year is it again? It’s so adorable to hear the word ‘communist’ thrown around. It’s like watching an old episode of “All In The Family”.

        • I’m so glad you approve of my terminology. It is good to finally see a liberal admit that they embrace communist doctrine as put forth by our tyrant Emperor.

          • Lemmy Caution

            “I’m so glad you approve of my terminology.”

            Reading comprehension not your strong suit, is it?

            ” communist doctrine as put forth by our tyrant Emperor.”

            Good gravy you are just too cute for words.

            Don’t worry too much. In about 90 days SSM will be the law of the land in all 50 states. You and all of planet wingnuttia will get over it quickly. In about a year the GOP will pretend they were never against it. Good times.

          • BillP

            Lemmy poor old kendoll all he ever offers on this site is that President Obama is an emperor and that the Democratic Party members are communists. He is good though for at least one good laugh a day.

      • highpckts

        Oh my God! Really? Still with the Communists name calling? Grow up!!

    • jointerjohn

      Low taxes for the wealthy. They are quite happy to bang the rest of us.

  • Kris Weibel

    The GOP would rather drive their party off the cliff than concede on same sex marriage pretty much sums it up. Currently, in Texas there are 20 yes, 20 such bills. To extend the current RFRA, and these idiots are merely digging their heels in. My money say they will enact at least half.

    • Bill

      You can’t fix STUPID!!!

    • jointerjohn

      They will concede this issue, that’s what political whores do. They have been whoring themselves for the past forty years to remain afloat in a world which passed them by somewhere around 1969. Next they will make up some flimsy excuse for doing it.

  • jeffromac23

    As long as our news is corporately owned they will never call politicians on the outrages lies they tell. How can we count on our news to be unbiased and independent if the very corporations that own them are the ones stealing the countries wealth and controlling the government by financing thier election campaigns.

  • Carolyn1520

    Oh no, the conservatives lost Walmart!

  • ulfur

    Facts have a liberal bias.

    • Daniel Jones

      I take it you’re saying Liberalism is honest and Libertarianism is BS?

      • Robert Eckert

        Libertarians work from abstract principles that do not fit well with reality.

    • CrankyToo

      That’s what you call your standard conservative bull$hit tip. Facts don’t carry biases. That’s whey they’re call “facts”. Don’t be afraid to break open a dictionary before you pull down your knickers and hang your a$$ out over the balcony.

    • highpckts

      Of course they do! Whatever! You can’t change “facts” to fit your particular biases!

  • nancyminter

    Loved the article Leonard, thank you!

  • jointerjohn

    The current American right wing of politics has two fundamental constituencies, bigots and big money. Big money wins.

  • Elliot J. Stamler

    Again Leonard Pitts gets at least one thing wrong. What he calls the fanatical id-driven children (?) of the right will not ever calm down or compromise or change. That is WHY they are fanatics. The head of the NOM said if ssm is legalized by SCOTUS they’ll keep waging a war on all fronts likening it to the abolitionists after Dred Scott. Read the social-conservative websites…expecting these evil people to change or shut up is pretty typical of Leonard Pitts who does not, frankly, understand up from down, right from left, in from out.

  • Whatmeworry

    As usual Pitts off. all the polling by a wide majority agree that the 1st amendment trumps any homosexual so called “right”

    • Pitts is on target

    • Staci Kittern Disbrow

      As usual Pitts off. all the polling by a wide majority agree that dan ketter a homosexual so called “right”

    • I agree this country would not survive without union protection

  • Robert Silva

    It is saying the Roman Empire has been resurrected through gay culture, which gayety was huge for the corrupt empire. We never celebrate Goths which I descendent of. They saw Rome as a place to sack just before the dark ages. We can get into the Greek Civilization which had slaves and homosexual men. Believe it or not, the Anglo-saxon founded America, or the Goth. Why are these sculptures of Roman Statues everywhere. Rome was dirty , corrupt, they built nice things but how did they treat each other. We should have statues of Charlemagne.

    • Barry_D

      Robert, could you please rewrite this to be coherent?

      Then we can debate about it.

      • S.J. Jolly

        We have returned to the Roman Empire and the Ancient Greek tolerance for homosexuality?

        • Robert Silva

          The Rome and Greece had tolerance for homosexuality, most leaders had boys for the practice.

      • Robert Silva

        We should not look at Rome as a role-model for our society. And we should not look at Roman leaders for insight, We should be looking at the Goths.

    • CottonBlimp

      The hell do you mean how they treat each other? In the whole history of the Roman empire, they never killed more than a few thousand Christians total. Charlemagne killed 4,500 pagans in a single massacre.

  • trentreviso

    No question but that the GOP has lost this issue with Americans.

    And yet, virtually every one of the GOP presidential aspirants turned out to defend Indiana’s hate bill. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Piyush Jindal, and Marco Rubio ALL said they thought discimination against gays was a good thing, so long as it was done in the name of Christ.

    The inability of Republicans to understand America is why they will lose the 2016 presidential election. They are campaigning as if it’s 1996. Somebody page them and let them know they have a fax explaining that the rest of us have moved on.

    • paulyz

      When Hillary & Obama were debating for the Presidency back in 2008, they BOTH stated that marriage is between 1 man & 1 woman. They even supported the Defense of Marriage Act, so your rant means nothing since you don’t include them in your biases.

      • trentreviso

        BOTH Clinton and Obama have CHANGED their positions on gay marriage, to reflect the changing times. ALL of the Republican candidates are stuck in the past.

        And neither Clinton nor Obama supported Indiana’s hate law, ever. ALL of the Republicans came out in support of it.

        As I said, Republicans have lost this issue with Americans. They are campaigning to the previous generation. They either cannot or will not join the modern world.