Republicans’ low road to nowhere

It’s a bit sad and more than a bit pathetic to see Republicans so desperate to win elections that they descend to the lowest possible road as quickly as they can.

With a unpopular war costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives, soaring food costs, the sky-rocketing price of oil, mortgage foreclosures at record highs, a looming health care crisis, an impending global-warming disaster, and continuing international problems in the Middle East and Asia, Republicans are cheering that the recent California decision in support of gay marriage is an “early Christmas gift.”

An upstanding Republican candidate (if such a person exists), who was opposed to the ruling, could simply say: “I am against gay marriage and I will work to make it illegal. However, there are many more important and more pressing issues that confront our country today. And these are issues where my views differ from those of my opponent. I intend to focus on these other issues in the campaign ahead.” And mean it.

I’m not holding my breath waiting to hear this. Rather, I expect Republicans, as usual, to milk this hot button issue for all its worth — doing their best to keep the campaign at gutter level. It is a strategy that depends upon appealing to our fears and prejudices, that offers no solutions to the real problems that our country faces, that focuses exclusively on what it takes to win (at almost any cost) rather than what it takes to govern, and that seeks to “swift boat” opponents rather than offer legitimate criticism. Unfortunately, it is a strategy that has worked well in the past.

I can only hope that the tide has finally turned against this sort of campaigning — and that it will fail miserably this time around. There are already signs that this is happening, such as in last week’s Mississippi Congressional election, where a Democrat won in a district that voted strongly Republican last time around. If this trend continues, this fall will see not only the welcome end of the Bush era, but the end of the uber-divisive and deceptive political tactics on which the administration thrived.

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