“The labels get in the way of the issue,” Kaine said.
All of this was the classic attempt of a middle-of-the-road Democrat to find a middle-of-the-road solution. He was trying to split the baby. Unfortunately, we were the baby.
Since his conversion, Kaine, a practicing Catholic, has been quick to celebrate our victories. And to give him credit, he was willing to spend some political capital for us on other issues. As governor, he extended an executive order forbidding workplace discrimination. He also supported the right of gay couples to adopt. He just wasn’t about to get out in front on the marriage issue, not until public opinion made it safe to do so.
Does that make Kaine a terrible candidate? Not at all. Barack Obama was a famous evolver (although you always suspected he was lying about it).
But Kaine is a throwback to the kind of candidate we saw in the Bill Clinton era. He’s coming from a mindframe that LGBT issues are a little bit risky and worth being cautious about. Contrast that with the future of the party: young Democrats overwhelmingly support LGBT rights and consider the issue closed for debate. Caution won’t cut it with them.
That attitude is shifting the party to the left. So what once looked moderate, like Kaine’s positions, now look conservative. If Kaine is going to capture the imagination of younger voters, he’s going to have to shed his past quickly.
Clinton has been doing her best to do so. Too bad her choice is a reminder of a time that we’d all like to forget.