You Deserved To Lose…..Why Prop 8 Passed

I’m getting ready to step in some hot sh*t here….but I have a 10-minute break in class so I might as well have fun with it.

I’ve been reading and listening to some of the reactions to the passage of Prop 8 out in California. Maybe it’s because of my past that I’m not surprised that Prop 8 passed, but this does not shock me. And this really does crystallize why the Gay Rights Movement is going to have a much harder time with its agenda than the Civil Rights Movement did.

Prop 8 passed because the pro-Prop 8 side had a better ground game than the anti-Prop 8 side. And as much as the anti-Prop 8 side does not want to hear this… deserved to lose.

Why? Because you didn’t learn the real lessons of both the Civil Rights Movement and, more recently, the Barack Obama campaign.  Ground games matter my friends. And you thought that just because on the face of it Prop 8 looks ridiculous that people would see that it is ridiculous. What you didn’t realize was that when only one side is talking, they are the side that is going to get heard.

When you first heard that there were millions of dollars flowing in from other places in support of the passage of Prop 8, where were you? Why wasn’t there as much literature refuting the outright lies of the people who were for the passage of Prop 8 as there was literature from that side? Why were the anti-Prop 8 people not working in the Inland region of California the way the pro-Prop 8 people were? Putting money into the cause at the end doesn’t work when the vacuum has been filled by lies and misstatements.

As much as it saddens me to say this… got the result you deserved.

Well….my 10-minutes are up. I have to get back to class now. More later….maybe.


9 thoughts on “You Deserved To Lose…..Why Prop 8 Passed

  1. I so agree with you – the game was played badly! My sister wanted a sign, but she was told she had to go to West Hollywood to get one – she lives in Orange County a lifetime away from West Hollywood. I believe that the GLBT and intellectual elites (of which I am one) didn’t think they had to TALK to people. Well my friends – ya gotta talk to people. People matter – relationships matter – learn that and things will change.

  2. You don’t even want to know my visceral reaction. Deserved?

    And CC, yes, the second person is correct. Heterosexual gay-rights supporters weren’t denied their rights, only members of a same-sex couple that want to marry.

  3. OK, yeah, that’s what was bothering me about this post. Not the idea that the opponents of proposition 8 weren’t as effective politically as they could have been, which is obvious and has been voiced over and over again, but that people Deserved to lose their rights because of it.

    By the same logic, one could well come to the conclusion that any minorities who have fewer rights and opportunities DESERVE to be denied by virtue of the fact that they haven’t fixed the situation. Sort of a political Darwinism. That’s not logic I would ever accept, and I doubt Kim typically would either.


  4. I’ve written similar observations elsewhere–the No campaign wasn’t qualitatively all that good. The Yes campaign was no holds barred; willing to lie, distort, deceive.

    The people opposing 8 didn’t deserve to lose. The folks who can’t marry because of it didn’t deserve it. The people who were in charge of deciding the campaign strategy… they deserved to lose.

    Kim, it’s not–I think–what you’re saying that’s objectionable. It’s how it’s said. Words matter.

  5. You make an interesting point, Kim, a point I think could also be applied to how UU’s advocate in general. One of the things I immediately noted was that the first response critical of your post focused more on grammar than on the substance of the post. That kind of reaction is very typical of the UU tendancy to gaze into the belly button first and discuss the issue second. Happens at my church all the time.

    I am going to try to use another anology other than the civil rights movement: ACTUP. Just for the sake of diplomacy I would say that the ground game issue might better be compared to ACTUP which always had a pretty good ground game. While ACTUP was primarily concerned with AID reserach, its ground game was so good…at least in Philly, that it brought about a major turnaround in the city towards gay rights. Do they have gay marriage? No. But Pride Day in that city is closer to Mardi Gras than Mardi Gras is; and the Philadelphia Gay News is now considered a more powerful political powerbroker than the African American Philadelphia Tribune. All that positive force comes from a movement with a good ground game that also organized collateral issues: what the anti-prop 8 group failed to do.

    Maybe…just maybe there is also a larger lesson for many on the current left. Obama won in part because of his ground game…but too often the left seems to just expect that voting citizens will see the stupidity of an idea on its face.

    I’ve always found that conceit humorous as we live in a country that has well visited creationist museums, people who vote republican agaisnt their own self interest, women who delight in being racist concervatives when the men in that movement would rather they be in the kitchen, and large sections of the country who follow conspiracy theories that are wilder than anything Ian Flemming could devise. In a country with that level of intellectual shallowness, to assume that a bigoted proposition won’t pass just because it is wrong is almost a form of political neglect.

    When it comes to social ideologies people make shallowly adhering to two contradictory views something akin to high art.

    In a way its similar to someone who says they are a UU and puts an Obama link on their blog, but still loves to try and throw vile racist remarks out under the radar. On one side they are part of a liberal religion that is reaching out to minorities, on the other they cannot contain their pathetic racism. In the end its all intellectual shallowness.

    The answer, as you point out Kim, is not to assume they will reach enlightenment and act in an enlightened way on their own. Liberals have to take active responsibility to educate or they only have themselves to blame.

  6. As a person who actually volunteered with the No on 8 campaign I think your criticisms are way off base. Lawn signs and random doorbell ringing is a very ineffective way to reach the undecided voters who decide an election. The No on 8 campaign emphasized phone banks (I participated in 9 of them). And we called carefully screened lists of people who were identified to be in the persuadeable middle. We didn’t waste our time on voters who were already going to vote no or yes.

    The “Act-up” style ads that would have excited people like me who were already going to vote No, would have alienated the folks we needed on our side.

    It’s easy to criticize a losing campaign after the election. But the final vote isn’t the only important measure. How many people did we persuade? And how many people are now involved and organized and activated? How many people gave money that we now have contact information for?

  7. Rev Ricky:
    No offense to your efforts, but the proof is in the pudding. Obama won in part because of his ground game to undecided. His teams had the courage to go where people wouldn’t even want to live with African Americans and talked to them about voting for one for president.

    Lawn signs do work, as do knocking on doors, letting the the opposition know you are active and getting out in the media. The idea you might “turn people off” is defeatist to say the very least. I don’t know how many suceessful movements you have been a part of, but most successful controvercial movements have always turned some people off. I really hope you are not so naive to believe that the Obama presidency didn’t turn people off, or that his aggressive ground game was only targeted to people who were on the fence.

    Also, as an ex-union organizer, I have never encountered a movement were an aggressive ground game failed.

    In terms of ACT UP, I was offereing an alternative metaphor to Kim’s valid point. ACT UP may have alienated some, but it also galvanized many, it forced an issue into the conscience of our somnivalent population. ACT UP went a long way towards turning Philadelphia into an LBGT friendly city, and it wasn’t before. Now, for pride day, the city hangs raignbow banners and the Philadelphia Gay News is a powerful respected paper, the two free weeklies constantly address LBGT issues as well, none of that was happening before ACT UP. LBGT protestors put much on the line to transform my favorite city and I cannot thank them enough, but I know it was them, not some group meekly talking about it to only those who agreed with them or were on the fence. Defeating prop 8 needs just such energy. ACT UP roared like a lion and the right was knocked back to their caves. If it is presented as an intellectual issue with no emotional immediacy then it will always pass because the other side has no qualms about presenting it that way.

    You have to not only go after the middle, but you MUST galvanize those who will vote no because they will not only show up, but possibly convince the maybes to vote no. Also, there is the effect that the publicity of a powerful no campaign might have on people you cannot reach.

    Your complaint about criticizing a loosing campaign is rather funny to me: what are you supposed to do when you lose just ignore the event? If a campaign lost, then those who really want to win need to figure out how they lost in order to win next time. It’s called learning from your mistakes. Sure the criticisms can get out of hand and be termed finger pointing, but those who really want to win on the issue should be thick skinned enough to winnow out the finger pointing from the criticisms and take their hard won lessons to heart.

    All that said, again, I get Kim’s point. The organizers need to take that hard look she is advocating and get their game face on. Otherwis they will fail again, because they will not be serious enough and the voting public will sense it.

  8. I’d have to say that first, no one DESERVES to lose equality. Having said that, I am going to have to say that yes, the No on 8 people really screwed up a lot during the campaign. They squandered a lot of opportunities and ran a horrible campaign. The issues were that Prop 8 was about taking equality away from many Californians, true – but the campaign to communicate this to the public was shoddy at best.

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