Friday, November 21, 2008

Politics: The Actual First Blog Post

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Officially, this blog started on Monday, 8-September-2008. However, it wasn't actually my first personal blog entry. Long before the term "blog" existed in the fall of 1999, I posted to my personal web site a piece of political commentary questioning the beliefs of then-presidential candidate George W. Bush with respect to the "ideal family."

The piece is presented as it appeared on 21-November-1999, nine years ago today:
SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS - This morning on the NBC Program "Meet the Press," Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush made a point of declaring that he stands for "the ideals in American society." To Bush, these ideals mean such things as the nuclear family and equality in selecting contractors. As a leader, he feels that he needs to oppose alternatives to these ideals, placing him in opposition to adoption by gay couples and quotas for minority-owned contractors.

Bush surprised interviewer Tim Russert on this latter point by not coming out against rules in place since 1983 that set a goal for Federal contractors of 10% minority ownership. In fact, Bush said that "10% seems rather low." While going on to state that he sees a problem in the same minority contractors repeatedly getting the same kinds of contracts over and over again, to the detriment of startup minority-owned businesses, he made a point of not ruling out considering the race and gender of an owner in selecting Federal contractors. In order to reach his implied ideal of selecting contractors by merit and having a reflective number of minority-owned contractors be selected without considering their minority-owned status, he is willing to continue to consider that status in the interim. It seems that rather than standing for an ideal, Bush is standing for freedom and fairness.

In contrast, Bush sees no compromise on the family ideal. He is adamantly opposed to gay marriage, saying that marriage is "for a man and woman, period." He gives no ear to the argument that allowing some kind of recognized partnership for same-sex couples might encourage gays and lesbians to live the kind of monogamous, stable lifestyle that he claims to encourage. He is adamantly opposed to gay adoption, giving no ear to studies that show that children are more likely to grow up mentally healthy when they have two supportive parents, no matter whether their parents are gay or straight.

While few would argue with Bush's implied ideal of ownership-blind contractor selection, many would argue with his ideal family. The new Chief Justice of Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court, Margaret Marshall, wrote in an earlier ruling that the societal definition of family appears to have changed to a broader one than the traditional nuclear family, incorporating a number of alternatives. So, who gets to set the ideal?

Perhaps nobody should get to make that judgment. This nation was founded on the concept of freedom, not any specific ideals. Existing laws allowing gay adoption have been passed in part in recognition that freedoms should not be denied to a portion of the population. On the other hand, going to the extreme freedom of allowing anyone to adopt a child is clearly even more dangerous than enforcing Bush's ideal, since that would allow pedophiles to do so.

The ultimate goal of the ideal family would seem to be to allow children the opportunity to grow up with the emotional and financial support to pursue their own happiness and contribute to society. If that is indeed the goal, it would seem that Bush's ideal family is not a prerequisite.

Perhaps Bush will review his position, much as he wants to review the minority contractor rules, and realize that what he is aiming for is freedom and fairness, not an ideal. Freedom and fairness applied to the goal of raising a healthy next generation of Americans does not necessarily require an ideal, nuclear family.

That was certainly optimistic. Bush would become the President of course, and to the best of my knowledge has never had a second thought about his vision of the ideal family.

At the time I wrote that commentary, I was intending to write a similar piece weekly through the 2000 election, but after one week I decided I had better things to do and removed even that first post from my web site. Rather than being one of the many proto-bloggers, I kept my views off the Internet until this year, when everyone and their dog had a blog.

Expect my next post to show up in something a lot less than nine years this time.

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