Friday, December 10, 2010

DADT repeal: am I missing something here?

I just emailed a bunch of senators urging them to repeal DADT. Did you???

The Senate's failure, earlier today, to repeal the military's DADT policy is the latest and worst case of "Oh my God if they can't pass that then what can they do?" type legislation that has met its recent death in the Senate.

What's most frustrating is that DADT is not only cruel, discriminatory, and harmful to the military and our national security, it's also opposed by an overwhelming majority of the public and the military.

What's strange, moreover, is the shocking and inexplicable lack of political calculation by Republicans holding up the vote. There they were today, attempting to kill a military spending bill for the first time in forty-eight years in order to cling to one policy that 75% of Americans, and 70% of the military, now oppose. Seventy-five percent! You can't get 75% percent of Americans to agree that the President isn't a fascist Muslim Commie terrorist. You can't get 75% percent of Americans to agree on the nonexistence of ghosts and UFO's. You can barely muster up 75% to say they haven't personally seen a ghost.

And look at the trendline! For senators coolly calculating their votes to position themselves for reelection, the derivative matters. (Though it's held steady for two years, it's clear, looking at the larger trend, that support for repeal will rise significantly in the near future).

Public opinion has risen in favor of repeal by about 10 percentage points in the last six years alone. And yet Senators like Mark Kirk and Lisa Murkowski, who are on the fence about the bill, but aren't up for reelection for six more years, effectively voted against repeal. Do they think public opinion on gay rights is going to reverse? Don't they realize they're going to look foolish (not to mention prejudiced!) in the very near future for their no votes, especially when they will (probably) be forced by the sheer weight of public opinion to change course?

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