With Bush, you could almost decide his homophobia had been a ploy. With Kerry, you knew that he liked you, he just lacked the courage to say so.
Democrats today suffer from a credibility gap on a range of issues. We call ourselves the party of civil rights and affirmative action, then we ignore African American concerns until the last weeks of the election. We say we're the party of the working class, then we put a billionaire and a millionaire on the ticket. We make a great show of mourning the end of class mobility, then we try to tell voters that working hard is the surefire way to get ahead. Who believes that nonsense anymore? Voters can see for themselves, in their own lives, that if you're born poor, you're almost bound to stay poor.
Now comes this question of same-sex marriage, a question that will not go away, though the left has very practical reasons for wishing it would. I can't pretend to know that what I'm about to say makes sense as anything beyond a method of political suicide. I woke up November 3 no longer believing this world is knowable in the least. But perhaps in this chaos there is light enough to see the outlines of a new beginning, and the one I propose is this: that the Democratic Party support full marriage rights, moving through a period of civil unions if we must, but only with the express understanding of the ultimate goal.
Would that cost us another election? It might, but it would give us back our soul, just as standing against the invasion of Iraq would have. We must be honest with ourselves, morally and intellectually, and we must also be honest with those whose votes we seek. For if we sell ourselves short, or sell ourselves out, there will be nothing for voters to buy.