Ironically, As Long As There Are Gay Republicans, The GOP Will Think It’s OK To Bash Gays.
The Republican Party just lost a voter. Or, at least, a member. In a post to his blog, GOProud co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia announces that while the “Proud” part still applies, he is no longer GOP.
Jimmy LaSalvia: Today, I joined the ranks of unaffiliated voters. I am every bit as conservative as I’ve always been, but I just can’t bring myself to carry the Republican label any longer. You see, I just don’t agree with the big-government ‘conservatives’ who run the party now.
The other reason I am leaving is the tolerance of bigotry in the GOP. The current leadership lacks the courage to stand up to it – I’m not sure they ever will.
I have worked hard to help to create an atmosphere on the right where conservatives can openly support gay Americans and even support same-sex marriage. In that effort, we have won, but there is more work to do to root out the anti-gay and other forms of bigotry in the party.
So I changed my voter registration today – “No Party.”
For those who need to catch up here, GOProud is an organization of LGBT Republicans who seem to exist solely to demonstrate that there are LGBT Republicans. It’s an offshoot of the Log Cabin Republicans, a similar group that LaSalvia and fellow GOProud co-founder Christopher R. Barron left because it was “too centrist.”
There’s a lot that’s confusing about all this; not the least of which is that GOProud itself hasn’t had the best record of standing up to Republican bigots. The group argues that marriage equality is a state’s rights issue (meaning they’ve washed their hands of the issue). The group seems to have started off as a way for gay conservatives and other Republicans to find common ground — while glossing over their more conspicuous differences — but has more recently started showing signs of being gay conservatives standing up for themselves.
In the 2012 presidential campaign, LaSalvia outed Tony Fabrizio, Rick Perry’s campaign pollster, over a homophobic campaign ad put out by the Perry campaign. “I’ve just about had it with faggots who line their pockets with checks from anti-gay homophobes while throwing the rest of us under the bus,” LaSalvia said, outing Fabrizio on Twitter.
So the evolution of Jimmy LaSalvia from token apologist to change-from-within activist is pretty clear here. He started off as part of a group arguing that gay Republicans should just ignore all the homophobia and work together with bigots for the greater good. Now he’s not interested in ignoring all the homophobia.
Leaving the GOP seems to be a no-brainer here, but you have to question the effectiveness of the example in bringing about change. He says he’s now an “independent conservative,” but who do you think indie conservatives vote for? If you’re not registered as a Republican, why should anyone care? As long as you vote Republican, your official voter registration is basically just a technicality. There’s a constitutional remedy to Republican bigots in office. You vote them out of office. The Republican Party isn’t going to change until people who vote Republican begin to go away. Maybe that means voting Democrat, maybe that means not voting at all. But it does mean not voting Republican. Or at least, only voting for the highly endangered gay rights-supporting Republicans.
Jimmy LaSalvia's evolution has definitely been heading in the right direction, but it may still have a way to go. The only way to fix this party is to be willing to hurt it. Because as long as you're still willing to vote GOP, you're rewarding hate.
[image by Mario Piperni]
GOP Supporters’ Lynch Mob Mentality
Last night’s Republican presidential debate was almost a rerun, in that the candidates repeated many of the lies they told last time around and in that the media’s largely ignoring those lies. As always, the talking heads are all atwitter about who won, who lost, who got the best dig, who had the best applause line, etc. Who told the truth is unimportant, apparently.
And there was even the seemingly requisite offensive crowd reaction. Previous debates have featured applause at the death penalty’s failure to prevent crimes in Texas (you don’t set records for handing out punishments that actually work) and cheering on the death of the uninsured. And now there’s this:
That’s right, Stephen Hill, a gay soldier currently serving in Iraq got booed. Even some conservatives are getting a little queasy about the debate crowds, although in strictly typical paranoid terms.
There’s no real way to control the audience, other than to strictly limit who gets in, which will look repressive and cowardly. And who knows who is booing or applauding in this way that’s harmful to the Republican cause? It could just as well be somebody who hates the GOP, trying to generate bad press and distract attention from what the candidates actually say.
The booing in that clip above comes from one very loud guy. Maybe he could be identified. I’d like to know whether he’s on the Republican side or he’s a dirty trickster. Am I being repressive to suggest that audience members at the next debate ought to pay attention in the future and look when somebody boos or applauds in this way that is useful to Republican opponents?
I don’t think so. I think it’s similar to going to a protest and photographing people with offensive signs. Let’s say someone who hates the Tea Party is thinking of going to a Tea Party rally and holding up a blatantly racist sign in the hope of stoking the belief that the Tea Party is a bunch of racists. If this prankster realizes he will be photographed (or confronted by the people he’s hoping to hurt), he probably won’t do it.
Of course, that last paragraph makes absolutely no sense at all — who would try to embarrass the Tea Party by not being photographed with a racist sign? — but the broader point is that conservatives who manage to think beyond their own reactionary and defensive nature see trouble brewing down the road. Even the candidates see it. Talking Points Memo reports that in the post-debate spin-room, the candidates and GOP flacks realized their audience problem right away. According to their report, “The common response was variations on the word “unfortunate.’”
Outside the spin-room, the response was less muted. “You boo a soldier serving our country in Iraq — you suck,” tweeted Chris Barron, head of the conservative gay group GOProud. “Shame on the traitors who booed that soldier.”
I’d ask Barron what the hell he expects from the homophobe party, but that’s another post for another day. Suffice it to say that Barron is a mouse rooting for the cat and it’s hard to feel extremely sorry for him, right though he may be in this case.
Anyone who thinks this is going to go away is deluding themselves. It’s not, it’s going to get worse. It’s going to get McCain/Palin rally lynch mob worse. The Republican Party’s spent literally years whipping up this hatred and fear and desperation. Now they seem surprised to learn they can’t turn it on and off like a faucet.
And the bigger worry should be that if this begins to become problematic, it’s only going to get worse. If the eventual GOP candidate begins to go down under the weight of their more insane supporters, those same supporters will react by becoming even more insane and offensive. Remember, it’s the conservative way: if something isn’t working, do more of it. Some will become worse in reaction to the bad press (“Ha! We’ve got the liberals freaked out now!”), some will put on their victim badges and see grand conspiracies, and some are just Republicans because they’re dicks. The point is, when the candidate gets in trouble, the supporters are going to become more lunatic, more offensive, more hysterical.
I think three consecutive debates denotes a trend. An ugly trend. And I don’t think Republicans are going to find this trend extremely helpful in the long run.