Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Identity Politics and the Limits of Tolerance

My Number One Right-Wing Acquaintance posted a link on Facebook yesterday to this Fox News puff piece on a right-wing gay Republican, Carl DeMaio, who's running for Congress from San Diego, California.  The article is graced with the gag-making cliche "Straight talk about gay Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio" for a title, but that's probably an improvement over what the URL suggests it was before: "No one puts gay Republican Carl DeMaio in a corner."

According to the article, DeMaio is an orphan who put himself through "a top-tier college" before "building and selling two multimillion-dollar companies."
Thus financially secure, he decides to dedicate himself to public service and runs for City Council.
In his first term he works across party lines and four years after his first election he passes major pension reform that saves the city money and protects the retirement savings of thousand of people. 
I was already suspicious at this point: since when do Republicans care about either "public service" or "major pension reform" that doesn't mean depriving people of their pensions?  Right-wing media like Fox News only talk like this when they're misrepresenting something.

DeMaio even "feature[d] his partner in his campaign literature"!  He ran for mayor of San Diego, suffered a solid defeat, and decided to go for a Congressional seat.  The author of the piece, Dana Perino, claims that liberal gay groups sabotaged DeMaio's mayoral candidacy, which may be true, but she doesn't mention that DeMaio's right-wing backer, Doug Manchester, published an editorial in his newspaper slamming him.  Maybe that's less important than the failure of gay organizations like the Victory Fund or Human Rights Campaign to support DeMaio, though I don't think it's irrelevant.  It makes me wonder what else Perino is leaving out.

Perino has nothing to say about same-sex marriage, for example, which is odd in a piece about a partnered gay politician.  It appears that in 2008, DeMaio depended on support from prominent advocates of Proposition 8, and (therefore?) said nothing about the issue, and "Only recently has he rather meekly acknowledged a tepid support for same-sex marriage."  Marriage isn't an important issue for me, but it is for many gay people, so it's not exactly surprising that DeMaio's collaboration with supporters of Prop 8 has hurt him with gay voters and gay political organizations.

"Isn’t his story what everyone who fights for equality says they’ve been fighting for?" Perino cries.  Well, no, it's not.  Despite Perino's sneer at "identity politics," it seems that she thinks that gay political organizations should support DeMaio and gay people should vote for him, just because he's gay.  His platform, his politics, his positions on other issues -- any issues at all -- should evidently be ignored simply because he's gay.  Perino's article barely touches on his platform.
“Our economy is in the tank. We’re in a national debt crisis. The progressive agenda in D.C. is not producing results. Washington politicians from both political parties can't defend their broken programs, so they have to play the shiny object game on social issues,” he says.
That's all, and it hardly inspires confidence in this candidate.  DeMaio is still pushing the bipartisan Republican-Democratic line that did serious damage to the American (and world) economy and hurt the majority of Americans.  It sounds to me like he would support the next Republican attempt to shut down the Federal government if he is elected.  I know there are numerous gay people who'd agree with the nonsense Perino quotes from DeMaio, but they'll vote Republican anyway.
For instance, DeMaio has been the target of homophobic attacks. But where are those attacks coming from? It’s not always from the far right social conservatives you’d expect; rather, it’s been from DeMaio’s left – the liberal and Democrat-affiliated groups that you’d think would be proud that an openly gay successful businessman has decided to run for office. 
You'd think that only Republicans were "successful businessmen."  But given the virulent political stupidity expressed by numerous CEOs and other successful businessmen in the past few years, why should I as a human being (let alone a gay man) be proud that one of them is gay and running for office?  And even more, why should I vote for a fool simply because he's gay?

I haven't tried to verify Perino's allegations about unethical conduct by Democrats with respect to DeMaio; they may very well be true.  Those of us with ill-disciplined memories will recall how, during the 2008 primaries, Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign attacked Barack Obama in racial terms, and Obama's campaign made sexist attacks on Clinton.  I'm not a Democrat, so I'm not going to cry "Say it ain't so, Joe!" over such things; I have plenty of other good reasons to distrust the Democratic Party.  But I also have plenty of good reasons to distrust the Republican Party.  That's the trouble with a two-party system: it encourages the assumption that if one side is bad, the other must be good -- when both are pretty bad.  What concerns me here is that there are few things funnier than Republicans playing the victim card when Democrats use their own tactics against them; Carl DeMaio needs to stop whining and, as the saying goes, man up and grow a pair.  Just as funny is the spectacle of Republicans trying to co-opt touchy-feely liberal (or "politically correct," as they call it when anyone else does it) rhetoric about "diversity."

RWA1 added to his link a vague remark about "an interesting exception to expected stereotypes"; I jeered that the article itself is full of stereotypes; he replied that "stereotypes or not, feminists and gays often betray their own for a left-wing agenda, which seems to override all other claims."  (Notice how he tried to evade the fact that he'd invoked stereotypes to begin with.  As if gay conservatives in American politics were some kind of novelty!  Once again RWA1 flaunts his willed ignorance about the contemporary scene.)  Oh, I said, unlike the Right?  And I linked to this blog post by the National Organization for Marriage (heterosexual-only, of course), which attacks DeMaio as a stealth "radical" whose "idea of reform" involves "Support for same-sex 'marriage,' abortion, gun control and marijuana."  The post continues ominously:
DeMaio's latest campaign finance report shows that he's raised nearly $1.5 million, a lot of it from Washington insiders and gay activists. Among his key supporters is Ken Mehlman, who has donated thousands to his race.
Does the name Ken Mehlman ring a bell? He's George Bush's former campaign manager who also served as Bush's White House political director and the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mehlman is gay and, like Carl DeMaio, wants to impose same-sex 'marriage' on the nation. Mehlman was instrumental in raising the funds that fueled the push to redefine marriage in New York, a huge coup for gay 'marriage' activists that generated international media attention and gave our opponents a great deal of momentum.

Mehlman has since been a key person in mobilizing the corporate community and Republican officials like Jon Huntsman and Meg Whitman to endorse gay 'marriage.' He even filed a brief with the US Supreme Court in the Proposition 8 case and told a reporter he hoped the Republican members of the Court would see that "conservatives" support gay 'marriage.' A majority of the Court — tragically including Chief Justice John Roberts (appointed to the bench by George Bush) — went on to issue a ruling that let stand a lower court ruling invalidating Proposition 8.

If Ken Mehlman is supporting Carl DeMaio, you can count on DeMaio becoming another tool in his arsenal to redefine marriage.
But wait -- there's still hope.
Fortunately, there's a true conservative running against Carl DeMaio who stands a chance of upsetting DeMaio in the upcoming primary election.

Kirk Jorgensen is a highly-decorated former Marine officer who served tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan where he led human intelligence, counterintelligence and force protection missions to thwart terrorism, espionage and sabotage against the United States and allied forces.

But Kirk Jorgensen is more than a military hero. He's a loving husband and a devoted father who will be a champion for all the issues we care about, especially preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman...

I'm not going to kid you — Kirk Jorgensen is an underdog fighting the Washington machine that is backing Carl DeMaio. Still, Kirk has raised nearly $250,000 and if we all band together to support him we can make this a real race.

But he needs each of us — you and me — to make a sacrificial gift right away so that he has the funds needed to expose the DeMaio agenda that will destroy the Republican Party and unalterably damage America.
We Americans love the underdog, so I'm considering making a contribution to Jorgenson's campaign -- not a "sacrificial" one, just a token -- to help split the Republican vote against DeMaio's Democratic opponent -- and preserve "diversity" in the Republican party.