Here in the United States, politicians are girding for the 2012 elections in November. They are generally specializing is saying nothing while trying to appear worthy and serious contenders. There is almost no meat on the bones they throw out to the electorates they hope to win. In hard times, when the economy shudders, this lack of substance is dispiriting to say the least and is shameful at worst. What substantive employment plans do they offer? What substantive economic revisions do they posit? What credible vision can they provide? With multi-million-dollar advertising budgets, none seems capable of doing more than bad-mouthing competitors.
And yet here comes President Barack Obama, out from behind his own varieties of vagueness and lack of substance to say that he favors same-sex marriage. I'm not convinced he actually wanted to say this, but I sure as hell am glad he did. He actually took a stand on something. Very simple, very straight (no pun intended), and pretty ballsy -- he's for something.
It's ballsy, of course, because there is a huge constituency (one that presumably might vote) that insists marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. I find the point of view as muddle-headed as it is insistent... and that's not to mention unkind.
But more interesting in hard times is this: Gay people, straight people, transgendered people, tall people, short people, male people, female people ... everyone feels the same economic lash. Our anatomies and proclivities are not the point. We are a nation, not a disconnected rabble. A nation, when it's any good, makes provision for those who agree and those who disagree. It creates laws to defend against crimes that wound others. It does not lie down and spread its legs for belief but addresses facts ... specifically-detailed facts like hard times or tornado damage or a need for education and health care or economic reform. Facts are not beliefs and the line often misattributed to Voltaire addresses the facts: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." To stand up for the least of us is to stand up for all of us.
How I wish (in vain, I'm afraid) that Obama and his fellow politicians might take equally clear positions on ... on damn near anything. The fact that none of them seem to evince any shame at their inability to lead the nation by standing up for something -- anything will do -- is disheartening ... and shameful.