11 April 2016


Two things from the last week.

Another defining point of Trumpism is petulant ignorance. Trump's complaining about the unfairness of the delegate rules is another reason why Trump would make a terrible president.  There are plenty of people in the US who view the party nomination system as a democratic process that's simply based on a popular vote (sort of as if we had a two-round system), but for a candidate to not understand that isn't the case is not acceptable.  Trump has consistently campaigned on not caring about how the system works, but sometimes the POTUS actually needs to understand how things work.  If you want to change the system, don't tell us it's unfair, give us concrete and practical ways to fix it.  Trump completely ignores most issues, spouts half-baked ideas when pressed, rarely outlines workable proposals to fix the few problems he actually cares about, and sulks and whines when get doesn't get his way or people point out his misconceptions. Petulant ignorance.

Sanders' complaining is in a different category- just irritating, not a symptom of a serious underlying problem.  If you're going to run as a Democrat, and Sanders freely admits that he chose to run as a Democrat because "in terms of media coverage, you had to run within the Democratic Party."  Bernie has benefited greatly from running as a Democrat and I think that's okay.  But it's not all good things when you choose to run as a Democrat.  You also accept the nomination process which includes superdelegates which may well choose someone who's definitely a Democrat (and raises lots of money for Democrats). This is the system Bernie signed up for.

Honestly, I think both Trump and Sanders could run as independents at this point and I'm not sure either or both won't.  That would be an election to remember.

And the other thing.  I'm concerned about these religious freedom laws that have been passed in the South.

In many ways they are unnecessary because sexual orientation isn't a protected class in most states, and in many of those states it's only protected in housing and employment.  Obviously, none of the states passing these laws designate sexual orientation and/or gender identity as a protected class.  When people talk about a wedding photographer in New Mexico in 2013 who was required to photograph a same-sex wedding, they often forget that New Mexico state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity "in matters of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and union membership."  The New Mexico Court of Appeals made the ruling based on New Mexico law and it only can apply in New Mexico.

People in North Carolina and Tennessee and every other state are already been free to turn away business for pretty much any reason. Laws that specifically say you can discriminate based on marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation (while ignoring all the other ways you can discriminate, like how you treat your children, or whether you contribute financially to worthy causes, or if you're wearing shoes and a shirt, or most anything else) are insulting and harmful.  They contribute to an atmosphere of distrust and miscommunication that can easily make life hard or dangerous for some people and that is not what I want to see happen.  I also think that laws like these make it much more likely that gender identity and sexual orientation will become protected in the future and I'm pretty sure that's as far from the goal as possible for the people passing these laws.

However, these laws are much more than unnecessary in many ways.  They're actively harmful when, for example, they mandate which bathroom anyone uses rather than allowing flexibility on that point.  I understand that there is a lot of concern over this issue, but the worst way to deal with this is to mandate from the top that people use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate. This solves nothing.

And one final point- I think it would be helpful for religious people to reframe at least some of the discussion around religious freedom today to empowering us to take responsibility for our religious choices rather shifting the blame to someone else.  If a religious school isn't able to participate in a national sports tournament because some games are scheduled on Sunday, say that the school chooses not to participate rather than saying it's barred from participating (or, to be especially positive, say the school chooses to uphold its principles and not participate).  If you are a religious person and choose to incorporate a business, realize that you will need to follow state and federal discrimination law- don't frame it as an undue religious burden to do so.

(Also, can we please remember that official religious institutions like churches and religious universities already can ignore most discrimination laws?  An extreme example is that a pastor can still refuse to marry an interracial couple in a religious ceremony.  I hope no pastor would ever do that, but it wouldn't be illegal.  I truly do not foresee a time when participation in private religious ceremonies is controlled by the government.)

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