With George Allen’s concession to Jim Webb, the spanking of the Republicans like a red-stated stepchild is complete. But the party of Pelosi isn’t the only beneficiary of good electoral sense this year. In the great city of Seattle, residents have wisely voted down an absurd and deeply party-pooping initiative, which would have banned all stripping within city limits in a most underhanded fashion.
Instead of proposing a straight-up prohibition on fun for dirty old men, a cowardly crew of priggishness-peddlers asked voters to approve a rattle bag of new restrictions including the “four-foot rule,” requiring that a topless performer and her client stay at least four feet apart, the “library rule,” mandating that lights must be turned up to the brightness of a typical office (Tony Soprano’s office is apparently not considered typical), and the “cash-in-a-cup rule,” forbidding patrons from giving money directly to a dancer or insinuating legal tender into her underwear. The point of course was not to enforce these rules but to make stripping impossible, sneaking around a recent court order that struck down the city’s 17-year-old moratorium on new strip clubs. The bare cheek of it! As the lovely “Asia,” said to a Washington Post reporter: “Who is going to pay $20 to stand four feet away and watch me dance? No one.” Well, exactly.
The good people of Seattle were having none of it and sent the initiative down to well-deserved defeat. The overall picture as regards the forces of bigotry and prudery is a little more complex. Seven of eight amendments to ban same-sex marriage were approved, securing the people of Wisconsin, Tennessee, South Dakota, Idaho, Colorado, South Carolina and Virigina from the horrors of exquisite drapes and icky man-kissing. But the voters of South Dakota rejected a psychotic abortion law, which would have put more value on the life of a rapist than the life of a mother – a victory for common sense in a socially conservative state, providing at least some hope that basic protections for women’s reproductive choice can be maintained through the democratic process should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
It’s true that a significant part of the new Democratic majority consists of socially conservative Democrats who are generally pro-life and opposed to gay marriage, but their bigotry is nowhere near as rabid as their Republican counterparts. While the Democrats may have to temper socially progressive policies overall, this is a far preferable state of affairs to having the party in power controlled by a radically bigoted base and leadership (with gay chiefs-of-staff of course). The significant number of self-identified evangelical voters who went for the Democrats, skewing dramatically away from how many voted in 2004, is also heartening. A dilution of the social conservative vote may mean at least a diminishing of the extremist reactionary religious right activism that has so poisoned policy and politics these last few years. It also may mean that a lot of evangelicals are cottoning on to a broader definition of “Christian” than hating the gays, secularists and Darwinists. Let us pray that it is so.