Republicans have already made a strategic error in the 2008 presidential election by focusing not on the merits of their own candidates, but on the presumed democratic nominees, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. Every time those two democratic presidential candidates are mentioned republicans give them more credibility than they've earned or paid for. The most important names republicans have in the race are republican candidates', not the democrats'. This is what accrediting your adversary is. Rather than focusing on your proposition you focus on your opposition, and when you do that, you either elevate them to your level or lower yourself to theirs. In either case you make them your equal.
We can see this in our state's auto industry and sometimes in our own businesses or careers. We focus more on our competition than our jobs, products or customers.
Some conservatives in Ferndale are in a quandary on how best to help their city. They're concerned Ferndale's gay activists are taking the city down a path from which there is no return. Recently, Ferndale was voted the third gay-friendliest city in the US by Advocate magazine and the award was not greeted by enthusiasm by these social and religious conservatives.
Whatever Ferndale's gay population is (I expect less than 5%), by constantly whining about it they keep attracting attention to Ferndale's gay population. Whenever we name them as a contributing cause of anything we give them more credit than they deserve. Not unlike how global warming advocates elevate man to be as great a force of nature as even the sun, by claiming man's activities have contributed to the earth's warming (and apparently man has contributed to the warming of Mars, Jupitor, and Pluto as well).
In any case, blaming gays for Ferndale's ills gives them more publicity than they need, and area conservatives may be thought to have a myopic obsession on homosexuality. In fact, as some give more credit to homosexuals than they deserve, they simultaneously discredit themselves.
The gay community has one (and a half?) councilpersons and enough sympathizers to pass the HRO. It mattered not whether they did the right thing, only that they felt they did the right thing. But honestly, is Ferndale's greatest problem Ferndale's gay population?
They're a distraction. An embarrassing one for some, but a distraction all-the-same.
Ferndale's problem is not its homosexual hospitality. Ferndale is part of a region suffering economic recession, our state's greatest industry is in decline, our state government is over budget and our governor is working toward a tax increase, both white and blue collar workers are losing their jobs, our housing values are falling, we have no public transportation, our schools are below average, our city's socio-economically diverse neighborhoods make it difficult to craft unified policy, and Proposition A and Headlee have wreaked property tax chaos on our city's housing stock and contribute to Ferndale's relatively high millage rate (24 mills) compared to other cities to our immediate north (Royal Oak's 11). On less weighty issues, we've too little parking to support our downtown district which depresses its growth, its profitability, and its attractiveness to higher-end or name retailers like Barnes & Noble.
And area conservatives think our gay population is the city's greatest challenge?
Perhaps conservatives' greatest challenge is to be honest about the tough issues affecting all Ferndale residents, pursue the greater goals with the greater rewards, and ignore the low hanging fruit.