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10/19/2010

Iowa For Freedom: Fostering needless controversy, pretending its neither

by Jeremy Hooper

gif animator Perhaps more than any other campaign coalition we've ever witnessed, the so-called Iowa For Mob Rule Based on Personal Faith Whims "Iowa For Freedom" crew has displayed an incredible desire/ability to have whatever conversation they feel like having, wholly independent of what their opposition is actually saying about their judge-ousting effort. For instance, check out this nugget from Campaign Manager Chuck Laudner:

Laudner also stated Iowa For Freedom continues to educate Iowans about the retention vote, and that opposition to that vote is where the controversy truly lies.

“This isn’t the first ever retention vote,” he said. “Putting something on the ballot, that is not controversial; to block that is. That is part of the disconnect between government and the voter. This is the race where Iowans can take back control of its government.”

IOWA FOR FREEDOM: IOWANS DON’T DESERVE ACTIVIST JUDGES [IFF]

But the thing is: Nobody is arguing with the retention vote process itself. In fact, the system has received many accolades from folks who deeply oppose IFF's cause. There is no organized effort to change or "block" the Iowa system!

The issue here is that IFF and its gay-unfriendly allies are turning this process into a political war against same-sex marriage, recruiting groups like the National Organization For Marriage and the American Family Association to astroturf the state with "protect marriage" rhetoric. This anti-LGBT rights force has declared a "culture war" against the three judges who are up for retention, based not on a measured assessment of each jurist's judicial record, but rather on the basis of one lone decision that doesn't jibe with certain people's faith-based marital views. And the judges, not being politicians or professional campaigners, are basically sitting ducks, watching as this well-financed, well-connected national consortium threatens both the individual career and the independent judiciary as a whole.

And it's pretty hysterical (read: anti-intellectual and civilly irresponsible) to act as if its the opposing side that is somehow misinforming here. Because IFF hasn't even made an attempt to separate the judges and flesh out the individual reasons for voting against each one. They haven't even faked a claim that this vote is some sort of well-rounded meritocracy based on a nuanced read of each justice's abilities. In fact, we'd be willing to bet that most IFF supporters couldn't even tell you the individual justices names. Because all IFF wants anyone to know is that the three judges up for retention this cycle are among the seven who joined the unanimous Varnum opinion that brought marriage equality to the state, so therefore they all deserve a blanket pink slip. The whole idea is to provide a vindictive catharsis, in hopes of "sending a message" to the state and the nation.

Of course the grown adults behind IFF have the right to dedicate their summers and autumns to this very expensive, discourse-reductive, thoroughly divisive cause. But its gays and lesbians that the Varnum decision married: Not the concepts of ability and merit!

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