Monday, September 21, 2015

Kim Davis: Wedge issues and Obamacare, and the race for governor in Kentucky - Part 3

Another intersection of conservative politics
and religion

The Kim Davis fight has been timed and located carefully to provide one last wedge-issue boost to conservative voter turn out in an off-year election in Kentucky.  It's not about same-sex marriage or individual rights of religious expression, that is a red herring.  Kim Davis is a pawn and a stooge trustingly serving the larger aims and agenda of the radical right.  She might as well appear in public in a dunce cap, (as well as a scarlet letter).

It is always wise not to let the opposition define - or name - the debate, the argument, the issue, but to look at what is involved without their labels.  That might sound cynical, and maybe it is -- but it is also realistic.

The governor's race to replace term-limited popular Democratic governor Steve Beshear takes place in a low turnout year that has neither a presidential race, nor any races for the House of Representatives or Senate.  Even the state legislature elections take place in even numbered years.

not an image of the real Kim Davis
but VERY very similar
If the liberal candidate wins, then BOTH Obamacare/Kynect AND same sex marriage will have a strong supporter in the executive branch; if not, if the tea party extremist candidate wins, then there will be continued organized opposition to both, and continued encroaching theocracy in Kentucky government.

The first of several debates by the candidates for governor takes place Tuesday:
"It will be an opportunity to hear from the three candidates on a range of issues," said WKYT political editor Bill Bryant is among the panelists questioning the candidates. "I suspect everything from the controversy involving Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to underfunded pensions will come up during the debate."
Going into the race, Conway was well-known for his recent high-profile, headline-grabbing failed battle against now Sen. Rand Paul and his emotional decision to not appeal a judge's order for Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and countries while Bevin most recently tangled with Sen. Mitch McConnell who defeated him in the 2014 Republican primary.
The latest Bluegrass Poll from July 30 showed Conway with a slight lead over Bevin.
In a two-person governor's race, Bevin suffered because 15 percent of those polled said they are "very conservative" but would cross-over and vote for the Democrat Conway. Bevin needs every one of these "very conservative" votes to win, according to SurveyUSA which conducted the poll which found 13 percent of likely voters remain undecided.
When all registered voters were asked which of the two is better qualified to deal with the state worker pension system, voters split: 37 percent named Conway, 36 percent named Bevin. When registered voters were asked who is better qualified to manage the state's budget, voters split: 38 percent said Conway, 38 percent said Bevin.
Conservatives do well in low-turnout elections; they do not do well when voters participate in representative government.  To accomplish this, conservatives use wedge issues to turn out their voters, and they those wedge issues tend to be most effective with their most extreme and fringe voters. This is CENTRAL to the Kim Davis issue.

The legal battle of Kim Davis is nominally about individual religious freedom to persecute others citing sincere beliefs.  Nominally, according to the reference site, means "by or as regards name; in name; ostensibly".  To name the Kim Davis legal fight 'individual freedom' is false; even to name it a fight about gay marriage is deceptive.

The Kim Davis issue is really about larger conservative control of government through the Kentucky 2015 election cycle, especially the election of the next governor; and 2016 election cycle.  It is really about issues like Obamacare, and the most successful state version of Obamacare in Kentucky, called Kynect, and attempts to replace a liberal governor with an extremist conservative successor who is campaigning on repeal of both Obamacare and the extremely popular Kynect.  Candidate Conway is part of the Bashear administration

So HOW Governor Steve Bashear, a supporter of same-sex marriage in spite of his 'primitive Baptist' family background handles the Kim Davis controversy is important to far more than the rule of law and the decision of the SCOTUS, in Kentucky.  While liberals call for Kim Davis to be impeached, the Kentucky governor with the Middle Eastern Muslim sounding name understands that is NOT the most effective way to promote justice and civil rights, as a practical matter.

Bashear knows that while in a rational society appreciates why government is and must remain secular, his legislature containing a 9 member Republican majority in the state senate and an 8 member Republican majority in the state House, won't do their job to ensure secularism.  Bashear is correct when he refers to calling a special election as a waste of money; it would also be politically stupid in the extreme.  Bashear is correct in relying on the courts to slowly and laboriously ensure civil rights for all adults seeking to marry legally in the state of Kentucky.

SHOULD the legislative branch do their job, and impeach Kim Davis. Yes. HELL yes. This should not have to go through the courts, but it is precisely because we have a belt-and-suspenders provision in our government not to rely on only one branch of government built into the system that it works.  And a person who understands the system, the intentionally designed features of our government, like Steve Bashear, uses them to govern effectively. 

The legislature at best would do nothing if called into special session; but at worst the legislature could very likely, in view of the current elections in progress, OBSTRUCT same sex marriage in Kentucky further, or at the very least make political hay for the right by attempting to do so and by turning this into more of a wedge issue than it currently is in the governor's race.

As of recent polls, the two leading candidates for governor were in a statistical tie.  Bashear is smart enough not to tip the boat in favor of the tea party candidate, but rather to let the provisions of government that keeps the Kim Davis issue safely in the hands of the court take it's course.... which will likely not be resolved until well after the 2015 elections for governor.

Given what he has done in Kentucky, democrats could do worse than put Bashear on the short lists for a possible VP running mate, especially if his successor in this election is another liberal.  He is a man who understands the practical function of government for good, which is I would argue the highest praise one can give a person in elected office.


  1. The confluence of politics and religion is beyond simply destructive in this little town. In 1981, the AIDS epidemic began in the United States. In Los Angeles 4 men were diagnosed with pneumocystic pneumonitis. Shortly thereafter there were reports of a "gay cancer." The Reagan administration, specifically the CDC, did effectively nothing.

    During the ensuing years, the administration did virtually nothing to warn people, to warn them of the mechanism of transmission (at first), to approve drugs, to stop infighting among drug companies over profiteering, it did the closest thing to nothing it could do. Comments such as "when you engage in unnatural acts, you have to pay the piper" were heard from people outside and INSIDE the administration.

    In NYC, Ed Koch, a man long reported to be gay, apparently also did next to nothing. Some, such as Larry Kramer, speculated it was because he was ashamed of being gay. Whether that was the reason we cannot know, but it was clear that being labeled as gay was a stigmatizing event. For decades, only Barnie Frank was able to pull off being a politician on the national stage as an openly gay man.

    Over the course of the years, 500,000 Americans have died from AIDS, another 1 million are infected. When Ebola killed ONE person in the United States there was pandemonium. We shut down flights, we sent advisories to doctors offices, hospitals, EMS teams. Only action in 1994 by the CDC under Clinton changed the pace of progress, by then 350,000 Americans had died. What this means is, during the first 13 years of the crisis 350k people died, since that policy change, 22 years ago, another 150k have died, most of those in the first 8 years after the change when the disease was still advanced in many and the "several years" protease inhibitors added to their lives ran out.

    The point being, it was the hatred of gays, it was the religious intolerance of gays, which lead to inaction. Had our reaction in 1981 or even 1982 been the same as it would have been for ANY OTHER outbreak, like it was for Ebola, AIDS would have been much less impactful, would have been diagnosed and ultimately a treatment found MUCH sooner. Ronald Reagan deserves this blame, but far more so, the Republicans who would misuse religion and allow it to drive governmental policy, deserve the blame for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens.

  2. Just passing this along -- and maybe you know it already -- but Judge Vance Day, a former chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, is now facing an ethics investigation as a result of that decision not to perform marriages ... he stopped performing all marriages once it became available for same-sex couples.

    Another day (pun intended), another person discriminated for their religious beliefs (which are only allowed if the religious belief is not Muslim.)

    1. Thanks Mac; I knew Day had decided to try this tactic, along with a number of other county clerks across primarily the southern Bible Belt, and possibly one other judge. Day, being in Oregon, got much more attention. I DID NOT know however that this had led to an ethics investigation. I need to take a look at how he got into office and what the recourse is if he is found in violation of ethics.
      Oregon is not KY, and I don't see this ending well for Day - and it should not. People should not need permission from the religious right in office to get licenses for ANYTHING.
      I am reminded of the MN GOP's attempt a few years ago to give pharmacists a similar religious exemption from filling the prescriptions of doctors if they did not approve, for example for day-after pills that they consider abortifacients (they are not, they prevent implantation) and to not sell contraceptives if they chose not to do so.
      Such a law would have prevented businesses that included pharmacies from firing or not hiring such pharmacists.
      Can you imagine having to ask your pharmacists permission to get a prescription filled?
      That was what our MN GOP wanted to put in place, along with conservatives across the nation. We are NOT safe from such theocracy attempts here in MN!

    2. I wonder if the Kim Davis controversy will result here in MN with the MN GOP trying another go at that religious freedom in the workplace legislation?

      I don't see the right taking control of the MN lege; more likely losing some ground in 2016, and they don't seem to have a strong candidate for governor or the other constitutional ex. branch offices either. So far.