This is the fourth in a series of postings from my February 4th interview with Log Cabin Republicans President, Patrick Guerriero.
The third posting dealt with the question, “do you now regret spending the million dollars on the ad campaign against President Bush a year ago?” Patrick’s quick answer to that was:
Not for a single second. I believe that in the course of my life ? and I?ve in public life for over ten years now, almost 15 — it was probably singularly one of the smartest things we ever did ? for a couple reasons.
I pressed further with this topic which is the fourth installment of the interview….
GayPatriot: What have been some of the negative consequences you?ve had to deal with as a result of the million dollar ad campaign last year [opposing President Bush?s stance on the Federal Marriage Amendment]?
Patrick Guerriero: Two pieces that I think are challenging?. One, when an organization goes from a $300,000 to approaching $2 million shop, the responsibilities become extreme. Much bigger than we ever imagined. The desire of our members to get information and to get it accurately and our responsibility on the Hill is huge. And when you come to our offices, we don?t have a whole lot of overhead here. It is like six of us. People who work here, for better or worse, give not only their work hours but basically their life. And their partners are involved, too — it has become a family that is on the front lines.
When you choose to be out front at Log Cabin, you choose to be attacked by the Gay Left and by the Gay Right. The Gay Left thinks we are way too Republican. The Gay Right thinks we are way too gay. So every single day at this shop, we always try to manage that. And what I tell people is to think outside the box from what people?s reaction will be every minute of every day. Whether it is the press, or a visitor, or a grassroots member who is ticked off, or a blogger ? whoever it is. Take that, let it guide you, take it as honest feedback. And then manage that for something that is more important ? which will be in twenty years when you are sitting on a chair drinking a martini looking back at your life. Will you be able to say that you were in this office, and you were a person of integrity, made a difference for a few people, weren?t perfect, but that you actually helped move this thing so that the issue of sexual orientation basically has become a non-issue for any kid growing up.
It sounds a little goofy, it may be a little bit idealistic. But if you operate that way you don?t get upset when the hate mail comes in by the minute from the Left and the Right. My day ? everyday ? when I come in here, the first thing I see is a long list of hate mail. The Left attacking me because I?m supporting Social Security Reform. Attacking me ? how dare I be in the Republican Party ? a long list of stuff.
And then on the further Right it is: ?God doesn?t think you are one of God?s children.? Or from the Gay Right: ?How dare you? you are hurting us by speaking out against Republicans, can?t you keep your mouth shut for a second.?
You know, good healthy feedback?. But I think this shop has been right, you know, 80 percent of the time.. 20 percent of the time we got it a little bit wrong. What I know is, even when we were wrong, the decision-making in here was based on real, clear thinking, debate, discussion. Something that no one will ever see outside this office is the type of heated debate that goes on in here. What we decide is that when we agree on a statement or a decision on our mission ? we are all on board. And we deal with the consequences. And when we?re wrong, you gather yourself and you correct yourself.
So the challenge is we are a growing organization in such a tight period of time. How do you manage that and take on that responsibility with such a small team up here?
Second, in terms of ?tough stuff? ? the decision that I wouldn?t and haven?t for a second, doubted, which was the decision of our National Board to make the decisions of not endorsing [President Bush] in the last election. It came with consequences. It came with the reality that this organization at a pretty historic moment did draw a line in the sand and said we are so disappointed and somewhat angry that this issue [FMA] is being used the way it is that we need to step back and focus more of our energy on growing our organization and grassroots chapters and some of our allies.
And what that comes with is a need to spend a lot of time talking to a lot of my friends. Some who worked on the President?s campaign, some who work at The White House. And explaining to them what that was about and how we need to move to a next phase which is figure out a way to help the President?s agenda where we agree with it.
And so I think those are the two pieces ? a growing organization and those challenges, and two, a tough call [the non-endorsement] from a group of Republicans and having to manage the next phase of that. And I think what people will be surprised about in the year ahead will be the extent to which this organization is able to work with our Republican allies to be on the team on some really important issues. But actions speak louder than words and I?ll let that play out.