When I look at the recent polling trends and see how Americans are growing increasingly skeptical about the Democratic Party and the growth of government, I become optimistic about the future of my party. But, then, when I hear some of our leaders try to articulate their opposition to a particular Democratic initiative, I begin to despair once again.
So it was when I read House Minority Leader John Boehner’s attempt to explain his opposition “to House passage of a bill that would expand hate crime laws and make it a federal crime to assault people on the basis of their sexual orientation.” You see, Boehner doesn’t oppose all hate crimes legislation, indeed, according to hi spokesman Kevin Smith, the Ohio Republican “supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics.”
Sorry, that just doesn’t wash. Religion seems pretty “mutable” to me as evidenced by my evangelical cousin, a newly Jewish friend (and blog-reader) and my eldest sister-in-law (to name just three people who pop into my head).
Seems that instead of taking a principled stand, Boehner is trying not to upset certain interest groups which might be persuaded to vote for the GOP (while offending one which seems fully ensconced in the Democratic Party). He’s putting politics before principle.
Fortunately, there are Republicans, indeed on Boehner’s own leadership team, who do get and can articulate the principled opposition to this gratuitous and possibly unconstitutional legislation:
Rep. Tom Price, who heads the GOP conservative caucus, also complained last week that the expansion of hate crimes legislation amounted to “thought crimes,” and he labeled the bill’s passage – tied to a defense bill – an “absolute disgrace.”
But contacted about his position on hate crimes legislation overall, Price took a different position than Boehner. According to Price communications director Brendan Buck, the congressman opposes all hate crimes protections, including existing ones.
“We believe all hate crimes legislation is unconstitutional and places one class of people above others,” said Buck.
Emphasis added. Exactly. Such legislation punishes people for their thoughts in committing a crime, not for the severity of an attack (or other misdeed). This is a bad bill, not because of the additional classes to be covered under existing hate crimes law, but because such laws exists at all. We don’t need it, particularly not at the federal level. We do need tough laws punishing violent criminals, but that’s a job for the states, not the federal government.
It’s too bad the House Minority Leader refused to offer a principled and consistent argument opposing the current legislation, instead offering some mealy-mouthed excuse about immutability. Mr. Price has raised more responsible objections. Maybe he should run for Republican Leader.
If he did, we might not be in the minority for much longer.