At the moment, I am up in the mountains of North Carolina, which is one of those places where the occasional Democrat running for higher office will go out of his or her way to put the word "conservative" on the campaign yard signs so that they can try to hang on to the remnant of the good old days down here in the Bible Belt. "Conservative" can mean lots of things these days, from standing up for the religious freedom of religious schools to, well, eating a chicken sandwich YOU KNOW WHERE. But mainly it means that this Democrat is not all that happy about trends in the national party.
I thought about this political fact of life when I was reading the celebratory report in The New York Times about the work being done to add a pro-gay marriage plank to the platform of said Democratic Party. Here's a sample:
Gay rights supporters praised the Democratic Party’s vote. “Like Americans from all walks of life, the Democratic Party has recognized that committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to have their relationships respected as equal under the law,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue.”
The Democratic Party platform that was drafted four years ago, when Mr. Obama was first running for president, called for “full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation,” and for “equal responsibility, benefits and protections.”
But the platform stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriages, in part because Mr. Obama had said he remained opposed.
Despite the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, the issue remains a difficult one for some Democrats, particularly those in the midst of hard-fought re-election campaigns in conservative-leaning states. Those include Tim Kaine, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who is running for Senate in Virginia, and Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana.
Now this got me to thinking about the journalistic footwork that reporters and editors might do to get some intellectual balance into stories about this subject.
So stop and think about this for a moment. Let's turn this coin over.
What if the Republic Party somehow managed to do something totally predictable on gay-rights issues, like take a stand in defense of religious freedom or freedom of association or what not. Journalists covering this story would need -- thinking logically -- to get responses from two different groups.
First of all, they would need to reach liberals and gay-rights groups, those who would oppose this action. Then the reporters would need to contact people INSIDE the GOP who were opposed to the action. Can anyone imagine this story running without on-the-record reactions coming from Log Cabin Republicans, moral libertarians, etc., etc.? There are groups inside the GOP that speak up for the gay-rights cause. They should be quoted.
Now, let's transfer this over to the Democrats, to the story that is currently unfolding. Obviously, we need to hear the views of outsiders who oppose this move -- a quote from someone on the Religious Right, perhaps. Then we need a quote from a morally conservative, traditional-religion-friendly group inside the Democratic Party. You know, blue-collar, traditional Catholics in labor families, African-American churchgoers, Latino Catholics and others of that ilk.
So, truth be told, the Times team does come through on half of this journalistic task. Want to guess which half?
Peter S. Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, predicted that Democrats will regret their decision to include the marriage plank in their platform.
“There are many places in the country where Democratic candidates will not want to be identified with the gay-marriage party,” Mr. Sprigg said. “I think this is more politically correct than it is politically smart.”
So, that's a very predictable voice on the moral and cultural right. Now, where is that crucial vote from the right side of the Democratic Party, the voice that would be the counterpart of a pro-gay-rights GOP voice in a story about the Republicans?
Sorry about that. Maybe the folks at The Washington Post found a morally and culturally conservative voice in the diverse reality that is the modern Democratic Party? Maybe? Just maybe?