You never know what will be the next big news story. Who would’ve guessed that the fast food chain “Chick-fil-A” would dominate the political airwaves just a few months before November? It certainly caught me by surprise, at least. Today, I want to look into the Chick-fil-A controversy, the conservative backlash, and to conclude with an honest plea to my fellow conservatives to move on, already.
What’s the controversy? Early last month, an interview conducted by the Biblical Recorder with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy surfaced in which Cathy reiterated the company’s support for traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Anyone knowledgeable about the famous chain’s Christian views shouldn’t have been too surprised by the interview, but it still created a small backlash amongst liberals and LGBT activists who called for a boycott of the company’s restaurants. The story didn’t receive a great deal of attention from conservatives, and normally this would be when the attention and controversy began to fade.
Then, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino waded into the controversy and publicly proclaimed that Chick-fil-A wasn’t “welcome” in his city. This got conservatives interested, and soon Twitter and conservative blogs were afire with declarations of support for Chick-fil-A and denunciations of Mayor Menino as a “fascist.” This online firestorm culminated in former Governor Mike Huckabee’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” which the restaurant chain just announced produced record-breaking sales (and more than a little bit of gloating amongst conservatives).
I get it. I really, honestly do. Mayor Menino’s comments were silly and ridiculous in the most overbearing, big-government way. When taken to its logical conclusion, an elected official unilaterally banning a business from operating in a certain area because he disagrees with the views of the business’s management on religion and public policy is bizarre and antithetical to a free society.
In addition to that, I understand why people love Chick-fil-A and want to defend it. On one level, it’s a great restaurant chain that offers quality food and wonderful customer service. I’ve only eaten there once myself (at the behest of a Southern coworker who did his best to educate me in the Southern ways of food and dress), but it was a very enjoyable dining experience. If my home state of Michigan actually had Chick-fil-A restaurants, I’m sure that I would eat there often.
More to the point, many socially conservative Christians feel that their religion and beliefs are under attack in an increasingly secular America. Regardless of the truth of that claim, it’s completely understandable for those social conservatives to rally around a prominent Christian who they perceive to be persecuted. There’s nothing shocking or surprising about that.
Still, it’s time for us to let this story go. Many of us have argued that President Barack Obama has run a “distractions campaign” in order to shift media attention away from the stagnant economy and persistently high unemployment numbers. Realistically, if you ask me, he’s done a good job with that tactic.
While the polling suggests that he and Mitt Romney remain virtually tied on the national level, the president has kept a solid lead in several key swing states. While the race remains centered on these distractions, the polling numbers will remain in stasis, and Romney will ultimately lose because of it if nothing changes.
In the case of the Chick-fil-A controversy, I believe that conservatives are contributing to the problem. While we delight in mocking Mayor Menino and celebrating the success of “Chick-fil-A appreciation day,” nobody’s talking about the economy. Nobody is talking about job growth, dismantling the regulatory state, reducing the debt, or repealing ObamaCare. Nobody’s talking about principle or policy. We’re just engaging in the latest distraction because it’s entertaining and an easy win.
There are only ninety-six days left until the election. Every day spent on this story detracts from the hundreds of important races all across the country, from your local officials all the way to the White House. We can’t afford to keep talking about this while we’re so close to November. Christians and social conservatives made their point yesterday. All of us conservatives have had a few good laughs at Mayor Menino’s expense. We’ve had our fun, and it’s time to move on.
Full disclosure: While I do believe that the traditional family is important and a cornerstone of society, I don’t believe that government should be issuing marriage licenses in the first place. Therefore, I advocate marriage privatization.