I watched enough of the debates leading up to Iowa to conclude that the Republican candidates for president seem to live on a different planet than the rest of us, one where the only problem this country has is named Obama. Unemployment at 9 percent? Millions of homes foreclosed? The erosion of the middle class? The obscene income gap between the rich and the rest of us? Cut taxes for the wealthy, destroy Social Security and Medicare and make sure health care and financial reforms don’t happen. Problems solved. Meanwhile, in the real world, the long economic slump continues to cause terrible pain for millions of Americans, and none of the right-wing fantasies indulged by the pretenders to the White House offer any hope at all. Am I alone in thinking that the the outrageous sum of $12.5 million spent by the campaigns in Iowa could have been put to better use? Say funding a food bank or two.
In the last two weeks Iowa and Vermont have recognized the right of gay men and women to marry, joining Massachusetts and Connecticut. Are we finally beginning to see a thaw in the Cold War against gays? I’ve never understood the vehemence of the antagonism toward gays and lesbians in our society, when so many other civil rights barriers have fallen. Marriage is a legal contract between two people, and denying a class of people the right to engage in that contract results in the denial of basic rights accorded to other married people. The right to inherit property, to care for minor children, to hospital visitation, rights taken for granted by the vast majority of us, are denied gays. One can only hope that now that the wall has come down in four states, others will swiftly follow.