I'm going to discuss politics today, so get ready to either get offended or think I'm brilliant, depending on whether or not you agree with me. I don't really care whether you agree with me or not, and I hope that we can disagree if we must, yet still remain friends. I like to remind myself that even though you may disagree with a certain position, that doesn't mean you can't learn something important from it.
As the temps cool and the leaves begin to change, we once again find ourselves approaching election season. The political ads this time of year are constant and in many cases annoying. I really like it when opposing candidates' ads are shown back-to-back on TV. Whereas any one of these ads by itself is typically fairly dull, it's easy to get a giggle out of two people calling each other liars one right after the other. I think my favorite ad of this go-round so far has to be the commercial for the Branstad gubernatorial campaign that rips off the Jimmy Dean classic “Big John,” changing the line to (sing along with me) “Biiiiig deeeebbt...Big bad debt,” to make the case that current Governor Culver is a tax-and-spender type. The original is a great song, and I enjoy singing along with this new version when the ad comes on.
I also have a great appreciation for the ad that is running right now that tells me that I should vote against retaining Iowa Supreme Court judges David Baker, Michael Streit, and Marsha Ternus. I generally have trouble keeping up with which judges I think should be kept on the bench, and with a modicum of shame I admit to sometimes basing my vote on such matters on who has a funny name. Funny-named judges should always be retained. If you're going to get punished for something, ought you not at least get the pleasure of being sentenced by Judge Booger or something equally smile-inducing?
The dump-the-judges commercials are being run by a group called Iowa For Freedom, which was founded as I understand it by failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, who comes pretty close to qualifying for funny-name status thanks to having a monicker that sounds like a possible euphemism for diarrhea, as in, “I've got a wicked case of the Vander Plaats,” though that's probably more in the eye of the beholder than clearly funny, like Judge Booger would be. The Iowa For Freedom group's issue with these judges stems from the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision to allow same-sex couples the ability to wed.
I much appreciate Mr. Vander Plaats and his cronies airing those ads, so on election day I can instead of not knowing whether to retain those judges make sure to vote to retain them. Not unlike previous Iowa Supreme Court rulings, like those outlawing slavery and declaring that “separate but equal” education may be separate but it ain't all that equal, the unanimous decision by the high court to allow gay marriage is perhaps ahead of its time, but that doesn't make it less correct.
The Iowa For Freedom website claims as its aim, “Stop Judicial Tyranny. Defend Marriage. Protect Freedom.” All of those sound like good things; in fact, it's pretty damn hard to argue against them. But let's pull that apart a little bit, piece by piece.
The “Stop Judicial Tyranny” bit I sort of understand. They think that big-ticket rights should be for majority populations only, and that for minorities they should be enacted via legislation, or more to the point, if discussed at all should be bogged down in the legislative branch and not be enacted. That's the point, isn't it? If the item had to go through the legislature, the small minority of gay people in Iowa wouldn't be adequately represented in that body to get the legislation passed, whereas judicial fiat has codified it without a bunch of pinched-face grumps getting a chance to stop it. Calling it tyranny, though makes me chuckle. Does Bob Vander Plaats think that the tyrannical judiciary is insisting that we all now become gay and get married? If so, I'm failing miserably on both counts.
Item two on the agenda is “Defend Marriage.” Has anyone of heterosexual persuasion been compelled by virtue of this ruling to become unmarried? Has the ruling made you love your wife less, Bob (assuming you have one; I'm too lazy to check), or she you? “No,” is of course the answer, which makes one wonder how this is harmful to any heterosexual marriage, which is such a revered institution that half of them get tossed in the dumpster.
Finally we get to “Protect Freedom.” This is the best one of the bunch because it unwittingly exposes the whole thing as a sham. “Protect Freedom” is the great domain of the “I have no palatable argument for my position, therefor I will wave the flag and shout about freedom a lot” crowd. Seriously, whose freedom are they protecting? I'll tell you whose: Those people who are so insecure about their own sexuality that they think at any minute they might accidentally find themselves enjoying a homosexual situation. The freedom to be protected from becoming homosexual is the freedom they're protecting, as if someone is just going to turn them gay.
This bunch probably thinks that being gay is a choice, and because they don't trust themselves enough to not make that choice they want it legislated away, as if people will cease being gay because the State of Iowa says they can't get married. If by chance they think that being gay isn't a choice, that those people are born that way, then I don't really understand what freedom needs protecting. If being homosexual is not a choice then there's no freedom about it anyway, and those disgusting gay people can be all disgusting and gay and not impact you in any way because you're not free to become gay anyway, any more than they are free to become heterosexual. How about you just live and let live? Go about your business, and let others go about theirs. Nah, that's crazy talk.
So I must thank Iowa For Freedom, for they've helped remind me that it is important to vote, and their ad caused me to make a little note in my cellphone to remind me of those judges' names when I'm staring blankly at the ballot on Election Day. And you should get out and vote, too, whether you agree with me or couldn't disagree with me more. That's part of the beauty of the whole system. Exercise your freedom. Make your voice heard. Every vote really does count. And if you vote against Judge Booger, you and I are going to have words.