"The Sunday Political Brunch" -- August 5, 2012

Chick Fil A Protest.jpg

(Providence, Rhode Island) – Last week I wrote that we were in one of the quietest political times of the year. People were on summer vacation or watching the Olympics, and not much was happening until the political conventions later this month. Yikes, was I wrong!

“242 Comments and Counting” – Aside from my website, this column is published every week via www.EastGreenwich.Patch.com and on my TV station’s website, www.ABC6.com. Usually I get a handful of comments each week, plus a few “likes” when it is posted on Facebook. I was stunned at the response last week, mostly concerning the “Chick-fil-A” gay marriage controversy. We’ve had 242 comments so far – some of them reasoned and thoughtful, some of them highly emotional and volatile, and lots of them straying way off topic. In short, they run the spectrum. Whether I agree with them or not, the vocal outpouring has been fascinating.

“The Chicken, or the Egg” – So who won this week? On Wednesday, it was “National Appreciation Day” for Chick-fil-A, with tens of thousands turning out to defend the company and its owner’s support of traditional marriage (and buying lots of chicken, too). On Friday, tens of thousands turned out for a same-sex “Kiss-In” for those who support gay marriage and oppose the Chick-fil-A owner. The winner was the First Amendment. People on both sides were able to freely assemble and express their views. Yes, it got emotional at times (and even downright nasty in some places), but people on all sides got to vent. One Chick-fil-A opponent even videotaped himself berating a fast food clerk at the drive-thru. The video went viral, and the anti-Chick-fil-A guy was fired from his job. Whoops! Here’s the link: http://tsminteractive.com/man-fired-berating-chick-fil-a-employee/

“Kentucky Fried November” – I laughed the other day when House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) weighed in on the controversy, saying, “I’m a Kentucky Fried Chicken fan.” Of course, the real underlying question is whether this will matter in November. My prediction: No, this election will be decided on the economy. It’s hard to buy any brand of fried chicken if you don’t have a job.

“Profits and Prayers” – Some believe that Chick-fil-A is unique in having a religious influence in its business practices, but it is not. Some very prominent and popular companies operate with a faith-based philosophy. Read on: http://www.businessinsider.com/17-big-companies-that-are-intensely-relig...

“Follow the Bouncing Ball” – Remember the old Mitch Miller TV show, when you sang along by following the bouncing ball? This year the “bouncing ball” is the national unemployment rate. Friday it pushed back up to 8.3 percent after three months at 8.2 percent. This is not good news for the Obama White House, which must be in absolute panic. They need the rate to drop – even slightly - or to start trending downward for the President to be reelected. In modern times no President has been reelected with unemployment over 8 percent. There are just three more monthly unemployment reports before we vote.

“Haters, Racists, Nazis, et al.” – The tone of modern political discourse worries me, and from both sides. Take the Chick-fil-A debate, in which those who oppose gay marriage on legal or religious grounds are called “haters” or "prejudiced" by proponents of same-sex marriage. If that’s true, then President Obama “hated” gay people up until about two months ago, when he changed his stance on this issue. Bill and Hillary Clinton both campaigned in favor of traditional marriage, but no one ever said they “hated” gay people. My point is that it’s possible to oppose gay marriage for a variety of reason, without hating anyone. For example, I know many people who have gay friends and coworkers and support their right to nondiscrimination in the workplace, housing, etc. They just disagree on marriage, but that doesn’t mean they hate anyone. So why the name calling? From the other side of the aisle, I questioned a recent Facebook post calling President Obama a Fascist. So he’s equal to Mussolini and Hitler? Come on! Let’s debate issues and principles, not play to angry and exaggerated emotions.

“What if the Election is a Tie?” – Maybe it’s too early to talk about this, but the possibility fascinates me. It is possible this election could end in an Electoral College tie, with each candidate receiving 269 Electoral votes. Formerly, when a candidate won a state, he won all the Electoral votes from that state. But now, two states – Nebraska and Maine – have opted to divide their Electoral votes, based on who wins in each of the state’s Congressional Districts. In the last election, John McCain won Nebraska, but took only four of the state’s five Electoral votes. That’s because Barack Obama won the urban Congressional District that includes Omaha, so he received one Electoral vote. With this election likely to have a razor-thin margin, this state-splitting phenomenon increases the chance of a 269-to-269 tie. That would throw the election into the House of Representatives, but would also likely send it to the U.S. Supreme Court over a Constitutional challenge to a state's splitting its Electoral votes. Can you say, “Election 2000 rerun?”

Let’s hear from you? Click on the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

(c) 2012, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

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