Hate Is Not a Strategy (Updated)

The last time we saw Michael Brodkorb around this blog, it was because the Republican blogger and strategist was getting himself fired over sleeping with his boss, state Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. He was also suing based on gender discrimination, alleging that several female staffers had not been fired over similar behavior. If that ever gets to court, the evidence presented should be quite interesting.

Brodkorb’s evident desire to hurt the Minnesota Republican party means that we should probably take what he said about the marriage discrimination amendment before the election with a grain of salt:

A former Senate Republican spokesman claims Republicans put the marriage amendment on the ballot to get conservatives to the polls in November.


Brodkorb said Republicans were concerned about firing up voters for the 2012 elections, and discussed a variety of possible amendments before settling on a measure that would ban same-sex marriage.

“In the context of all of these constitutional amendments, turnout and rallying the conservative base, rallying like-minded Democrats and others to the polls for Republicans and for this issue, was a constant theme of discussion,” Brodkorb said.

Of course, the fact that he wants to hurt the party doesn’t mean that he didn’t do it using the truth. Neither do Republicans denying that this was the idea.

If this was true, the strategy was an astounding failure. This amendment was able to get through the legislature because Minnesota had solid Republican control of both chambers. At least they did before the election.

Chart showing Minnesota Democrats in control of both the state house (73 to 61) and senate (39 to 28).

That graphic is from the Star Tribune’s election coverage. Democrats now have large majorities in both chambers, as well as our liberal Democratic governor who squeaked by in a recount two years ago. Minnesota governance looks far more blue than it has for almost all of my voting lifetime.

Passion for Obama waned a bit here over the last four years, as it did in many places, but it was a major factor in 2008. The passion coming this year from those who opposed this amendment was stronger than that.

I remember the combination of desperation so many of us felt by the end of Bush’s second term and inspiration that Obama inspired for meaningful change. Obama, though, was way off somewhere else. Big deal when he visited, but otherwise a bit abstract. This proposed amendment? Given that Minneapolis has long been recognized as one of the gay-friendliest cities in the country, it would affect many of us directly. It was only outstate that any sizeable number of people could say (whether true or not) that it wouldn’t affect anyone they knew and cared about. This was personal.

We’ve known this vote was coming for nearly a year and a half. None of the volunteers I know flagged during that time. New people were inspired to volunteer by polls that showed us in danger of losing this vote. People donated repeatedly. Friends who weren’t already terribly political spoke out. Friends who were very political talked about the amendment frequently. We donated repeatedly and encouraged others to do the same.

When polling started on the amendment, it looked like a sure thing. Minnesotans United for All Marriage changed that through an immense calling campaign. By the time it was done, they knew who in this state was ready to vote against the amendment.

Then they concentrated on getting those people to go out and vote.

Normally on these kinds of questions, equality does better in the polls leading up to an election than it does at the ballot box. People know discrimination isn’t socially acceptable, and what they do in private doesn’t match what they are willing to admit to another human being. The totals on this amendment, however, were very close to those on the last poll taken before election day.

I don’t think people have suddenly gotten more willing to admit to wanting to discriminate against their fellow human beings. This had to do with the passion people felt about this issue and with Minnesotans United’s organizing work. The voters turned out, the raging lefties who weren’t fired up over Obama anymore and the youngsters who weren’t as idealistic and trusting as they’d been four years earlier.

The Republican legislators riled up exactly the people Obama couldn’t, and it bit them in the ass. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Let’s see whether any other states take a lesson from this.

Update: I’m adding this video for two reasons. In the first nearly three minutes, Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United, does an amazing job putting the size of the campaign against this amendment in perspective. Then–then it just gets awesome. You might want to be somewhere where you can have a moment of privacy after watching this.

Hate Is Not a Strategy (Updated)

11 thoughts on “Hate Is Not a Strategy (Updated)

  1. 2

    The Republican legislators riled up exactly the people Obama couldn’t, and it bit them in the ass.

    Schadenfreude isn’t supposed to be nice. So I’m not a nice person.

  2. 5

    When will conservatives finally do what they’ve done for centuries: Embrace marriage equality and then pretend that it was their idea all along and that of course equality is a key conservative value?
    I hope it keeps them losing a few elections until then.

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