GOP candidate for Georgia governor, Karen Handel, in a recent interview for local Georgia television, offers no reasons for opposing gay adoption. She just does:
Q: So you think gay couples are less qualified to function as parents than straight couples?
A: I think that for a child to be in a household — in a family in a household with a situation where the parents are not married, as in one man and one woman, is not the best household for a child.
Q: Is it better or worse than a single parent household?
A: Doug, I’m really trying to be straightforward with you but I’m not going to debate all the nuances. I’ve made it abundantly clear that I think that marriage is between a man and a woman. And that’s what I believe, and I don’t know what more you would like me to add to that.
Q: I guess I want to know why you think gay parents aren’t as legitimate as heterosexual parents.
A: Because I don’t.
What is most stunning to me is Karen Handel’s seemingly genuine bewilderment that anyone would expect her to elaborate on her positions:
I don’t know what more you would like me to add to that.
Isn’t that galling? And doesn’t it say something disturbing about our cultural moment?
In contemporary American democracy, we don’t offer to expand upon an answer, or debate. Nor do we offer, in any detail, our reasons for holding the opinions that we do. Debate, nuance, and reason are much too 19th century, and 21st century people simply don’t have the time (or inclination) to attend to the arguments of politicians all that closely or seriously. Instead, we just make sure that the right cultural signals are sent to the right base constituencies (the ones that get us to 50% + 1). That’s enough. That’s the game we’re playing.
I don’t find gay adoption repugnant. But I certainly find Karen Handel’s practice of politics grotesquely repugnant. Anyone running for office who declines to offer reasons for her political positions deteriorates the quality of our democracy. And it is a slap in the face of the Anglo-French Enlightenment ideals upon which the country was founded.
What would Thomas Jefferson make of so intellectually stunted a candidate for political office? And could Abraham Lincoln flourish in so ridiculous and irrational a political environment, and win an election against Karen Handel?
Karen Handel’s response to a reporter’s mild pressing on gay adoption is a pathetic sign of our culturally impoverished times.