This week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gays for religious reasons.

The question that has always fascinated me about Gay Rights controversies like these is: why is it such a huge deal?  There are not really that many gays in the population, and yet Conservatives make it sound like (for example) allowing gay marriage would mean the end of civilization itself.

Personally, while the anti-gay groups frequently resort to citing scripture, I have always believed this is simply a red herring.  The Bible is one of the most-read (and believed) books in the world, and happens to have a few passages forbidding homosexuality, which are convenient for them to cite.  If it had nothing whatsoever to say on the topic, I think they would oppose gay rights just as vehemently. (The same thing goes on with the NRA and the Second Amendment–if it didn’t exist, they would be no less zealous in their opposition to gun control laws.)

My reason for thinking this is that the Bible also forbids, for example, the loaning of money at interest, and yet I haven’t seen any preachers holding rallies to condemn banks.  Indeed, the Republican party as we know it would likely destroy itself within a day if the social conservatives ever decided to enforce that particular point with the same force they do the issue of homosexuality.

So, if not religious, what exactly is their reason for opposing gay rights so strongly?

In the past, I’ve occasionally mentioned how nationalists (which I believe is what the Republican rank-and-file is) believe in a society based on blood and heritage.  Naturally, this prejudices them against gays, since by definition they cannot contribute to the heritability based society.

I bring this fact up not because it is terribly significant in its own right–the social conservatives oppose gay rights, nothing new here–but rather because I think it helps give the interested political observer a better idea of the logic behind the social conservatives’ policies.  Contrary to appearances, I don’t believe they just picked a random part of the Bible to passionately uphold, but rather, it is part of their larger worldview.

Interesting article in The Daily Beast by Jack Schwartz, about the Tea Party and its alliance between, as he puts it, the “Confederate and corporate”:

[T]he conservative movement: a marriage between corporate America and the New Confederacy. The former supplied the financing, the lobbying, a corporate underpinning, national links, and an overall strategy. The latter provided numbers, passion, righteousness, self-righteousness, and a patina of faux populist clout.

It’s worth a read, and it’s a topic I’ve discussed many times on this blog.

There is one thing, though, that it doesn’t address, but it’s something I have come to suspect: that the Democrats are to some extent complicit in this as well.  That is, over the last few decades, their focus on social issues (which I support, don’t get me wrong)  has come at the expense of protecting the economic equality programs of the New Deal.

Basically, the way it works is that the Democrats feud with the Social Conservatives about social issues, and that allows the Corporate Republicans to broker deals or otherwise find ways of passing laissez-faire, deregulatory  economic policies. (There is a little discussion of this issue at the end of What’s The Matter With Kansas?, actually.)

I’m not saying that the Democrats are wrong for doing that; just that it seems to be the pattern for a lot of our political conflicts, and that it’s important to recognize it as such. What is a little troubling about this article (and political analysis in general) is that there is too much focus “de-polarizing” politics, without considering the specifics of what that might look like.  My concern is that if or when Democrats and Republicans eventually do find a middle-ground to compromise on, it will be one that is more beneficial to the wealthy financial interests that support both parties, and not to the nation as a whole.

eviljwinter at Edged in Blue has a good post about how the two-party system is bad for political discourse in this country. I can’t argue with that, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve posted much the same thing.

Where I have some disagreement with him is his support for the multi-party system. The problem is that eventually the two-party system will effectively be reborn through “coalition building”. eviljwinter is right to say that it’s odd that libertarians and social conservatives should find themselves in the same party, but he neglects to consider how this came about. The libertarians and the social conservatives both consciously chose to join the Republican party, after all. Nobody forced them.

Suppose that all the libertarians went and formed a real, honest-to-God Libertarian party, and not just the shade of one that exists now. Suppose also that the social conservatives went and formed their own party, as well. This sounds very well, but eventually some of the parties would begin to chat with each other. And then they would soon begin to make alliances against other parties. Eventually, it is quite likely that the Social Conservatives and Libertarians would rebuild the old Republican  voting coalition under a new name, and then we would be back where we started.

I’m no expert, but I think “coalition government” of this sort is how politics works in Europe. Actually, it’s the way almost all Democracies end up working out of necessity. It is only a curious anomaly that in the United States, these coalitions are but rarely granted the status of “party”, and are instead known as the “right-wing” or “the Reagan Democrats” or whatever.

Still, while I feel that the multi-party system would be of limited help to our political system, it’s still a very good post; and I’m wholeheartedly supportive of attempts to consider such alternatives.