Here we are, seventy-seven days out from the 2010 midterm elections, and our national dialog remains dominated by endless debate over Republican wedge issues that are intentionally not amenable to resolution. Although these issues are not finding their way into ballot referenda as they have in recent elections, they continue to dominate the media coverage of a bleak political landscape.
These Republican wedge issues are those shopworn standard wedges that they have always used, although this season has the added twist of seeing them bifurcate into multiple manifestations to compensate for their weakening from hoary old age.
The two issues that are being reprised, of course, are xenophobia and homophobia, dovetailing ideally with a longstanding Republican corporatist program to whip the electorate into a phobic frenzy that will displace any debate over of what this nation and society need. That displaced debate is one that Republicans would rather do without, since their proposals going forward are not anything that the American People will find to be at all palatable.
As to the bifurcating wedge issues, in the matter of xenophobia we have a regressive state government in Arizona that sanctions racial profiling while usurping federal authority on matters dealing with immigration; while in New York City, the right is advocating the denial of First Amendment rights to adherents of Islam in the name of some sort of politeness that they feel is owed to Christian families of 9/11 victims. The way they figure it is that if you don't harbor an unreasoning hatred for Mexicans, maybe we can get you to hate Muslims. Hating Muslims helps with a jingoistic neocon desire for war with Iran as well. After all, with Iraq winding down and weariness with a slogging effort in Afghanistan that is yielding no clear success they need war with Iran to keep their defense industry portfolios performing up to expectations.
Their approach to homophobia is at least a departure from their traditional drumbeat of loathing gays. This year they are approaching the issue from both sides with a failing defense of California's Proposition 8 to keep the fundamentalist Christians in line on one side and Ken Melman's coming out in the hope of lining up more log cabin votes on the other side. Yes, I think it was intended that Melman's admission of his sexual orientation be revealed just before the midterms to shout over debate on more germane issues.
What we are left with is four discussions of two issues that will still be unresolved and squatting on the table before us after the elections lapse without discussion of critical issues.