It wasn’t too long ago that the political left in America couldn’t stop whining about how Republicans were too focused on “social issues,” lamenting George W. Bush’s push to ban gay marriage when so many other “real problems” deserved policymakers’ attention.
And their indignation wasn’t limited to the Republicans who were running the federal government.
Gay marriage became a prominent election year issue in a number of states, including Colorado, where then-Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave’s high profile on the topic made it impossible to ignore.
“Republicans spent way too much time screwing around with…silly legislation,” wrote a 5280 contributor way back then “Republicans are wasting your time with philosophical arguments and discussions, while [Democrats] have been busy fixing the budget, education and other issues that will actually make a difference in your lives.”
And who can forget then-Democratic House Leader Andrew Romanoff admonishing Republicans for pandering to their political base and failing to address the larger and more pressing challenges facing the state.
“We’re talking about the budget, and they’re talking about bestiality,” Romanoff said, in a reference to an idiotic analogy made by a then-Republican legislator during gay marriage debate 1.0.
Romanoff was, of course, correct. And his candid one sentence assessment became a rallying cry that began an unprecedented Democratic resurgence in the Centennial State.
Times certainly have changed since then. Or have they?
From the White House to the Statehouse, the same Democrats who blasted Republicans for their cynical exploitation of the gay marriage issue a few short years ago are now doing precisely the same thing.
By myopically focusing on what they believe to be a winning political issue, President Obama and his fellow travelers in Colorado hope that the debate over gay marriage and civil unions (and let’s be honest, civil unions are really little more than the latest step toward gay marriage on the installment plan) is just what the doctor ordered to divert voters’ attention away from their unpopular policies and frightening economic record.
And who can blame them?
Defending ObamaCare, the failed stimulus, swelling welfare rolls, stubbornly persistent high unemployment and stratospheric public sector salaries is much more difficult than casting your opponents as a cadre of foaming-at-the-mouth theocrats.
The last thing Mr. Obama’s campaign hacks want to talk about is how America lost its AAA credit rating on his watch, or how the national debt grew more during Mr. Obama’s first three years in office than it did the previous eight under his predecessor George W. Bush.
So off we go down the road debating gay marriage, or gender wars, or race baiting, or whatever distraction that the Obama and Hickenlooper strategists hatch next week and the week after, and the week after that to try and divert our attention from the sputtering job market, the spiraling debt and the bloated, perpetually expanding bureaucracy.
Whatever your opinions on these divisive matters — and reasonable people can certainly disagree — one thing is clear. Democrats, like Republicans in the last decade, have chosen to debate wedge issues for one reason and one reason only: These days, it is all they’ve got.