In the 1960s, the Democratic Party lost the South because of its leaders' support for civil rights. Barry Goldwater won several Deep South states even while losing badly almost everywhere else. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, announcing that he was switching parties, said, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. It left me."
It's too bad that gay and lesbian Republicans can't see, in an inverted way, the same thing a bigoted philistine like Thurmond could.
The Mark Foley scandal has put this GOP minority into the spotlight, albeit in an unfortunate way. Foley's misbehavior certainly isn't representative of the gay community.
But many Americans are now aware of something I don't think they'd given much thought to before: There are surprisingly many gay and lesbian Republicans.
My question is: why? Why would people of those sexual orientations continue to vote for and donate money to candidates of a party mostly composed of people who regard them as, at best, sick freaks, and at worst, hellbound sinners?
The most high-profile organization that gives these GOP outsiders something of a voice is the Log Cabin Republicans. Their home page describes them as "loyal Republicans" who believe in things like:
- Low taxes. (So they'd rather live in Central America than in one of those socialist nightmare regimes in Scandinavia. Have they read anything about the state of gay rights in Guatemala lately?)
- Limited government. (Do they mean the kind that can't respond to natural disasters like hurricanes? Or the kind that gives the president semidictatorial powers to, for example, define what constitutes torture?)
- Strong defense. (Like the kind that, after the U.S. is attacked by Al Qaeda, decides to attack an adversary of theirs in Iraq? And then doesn't send enough troops to secure the borders, the precious oil fields, or bring any semblance of order to the country? But still stretches our military so thin that it likely wouldn't be able to respond to a real threat from, say, North Korea or Iran? And somehow manages to create a virtual terrorist training ground in Iraq? Can you say Larry? Moe? Curly Joe?)
- Free markets. (Do they mean the kind in which contractors like Halliburton, with incestuously close ties to the "vice president," get no-bid contracts worth well over $10 billion?)
- Personal responsibility. (Do they mean the kind that George W. Bush and Deadeye Dick Cheney have demonstrated during their adult lives?)
- Individual liberty. (Do they mean the kind the Texas Republican Party endorsed in its 2004 platform, in which it opposed legalization of "sodomy," and also advised candidates that a risk of not supporting the entire platform would be withholding of state party funding?)
I understand that what Log Cabin Republicans have in common with politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mary Bono and Lincoln Chafee is that all contemporary Republicans, "moderate" or otherwise, are economic royalists.
It's not hard to understand how someone would want their human rights and the trust fund, too. They basically want the little people to pay the bulk of the taxes, and then much more; and they may even sincerely believe, for whatever misguided reasons, that they should. I'll save that argument for another time.
But as the radical right extends its already decades-long dominance of the GOP, these "moderate" politicians are looking almost as irrelevant now as James Eastland and Lester Maddox appeared among Democrats in the Sixties.
Log Cabin Republicans, you didn't leave the party, but it left you -- 25 or 30 years ago. Maybe it's time you gave some thought to something you regard as unthinkable -- to follow the lead of Media Matters for America founder David Brock, and back Democrats, at least for a while. The only way "moderates" (I'm old enough to remember when they were called conservatives.) are ever going to retake the GOP is for the radical right to start losing elections. A lot of them.
MANIFESTO JOE IS AN UNDERGROUND WRITER LIVING IN TEXAS