One sentence in what Patrick Guerriero calls “A Special Invitation” to the Log Cabin National “Convention” and Liberty Education Forum (LEF) National Symposium provides a near-perfect synopsis of what is wrong with that ostensibly Republican organization. Patrick writes that at this confab, “We’ll also have leaders from all the major gay rights organizations debating strategy on how to achieve equality.” We have blogged extensively (e.g., here, here and here) about how eager Patrick has been to get along well with the left-leaning national gay organizations, thus the first part of his sentence merely ratifies what we’ve been saying all along.
The second half of the sentence calls Log Cabin’s Republican credentials further into question. It shows that not only how eager Log Cabin is to get along with other gay groups, but also that it has adopted their very lingo, their very ideology (at least on gay issues). In e-mail after e-mail that I receive from Log Cabin and LEF, they blather on (and on) about promoting “basic fairness” (whatever that means in a political context) and “equality.” The same words used by the other gay groups.
In one of my earliest posts, “Equality has been the watchword of gay activists. But not of conservatives and libertarians.” Or as the Cato Institute‘s David Boaz puts it (in his introduction to an essay by the distinguished economist Ludwig von Mises) in his excellent anthology The Libertarian Reader, “The chimera of equality has been a mainstay of socialist visionaries.”
We Republicans, we conservatives, we libertarians remain in tune with the spirit that has animated our nation since patriots stood up against the Stamp Act and threw tea into Boston Harbor rather than pay a duty on it. We believe in freedom. Even PBS entitled its documentary on the American Revolution Liberty!. They didn’t call it Equality!. In the Civil War, Union troops sang The Battle Cry of Freedom. In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers did indeed recognize that we are “created equal,” but the rights with which our Creator endowed us were “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Recognizing that liberty is essential to our national ideal, the last generation of Log Cabin leaders called their affiliated 501(c)(3) organization the Liberty Education Forum. Despite that name, the group’s monthly e-mail (entitled “Liberty Line”) focuses more on equality than on liberty.
Conservative and libertarian scholars and leaders have long recognized the tension between liberty and equality, and just as the founders of our nation — and those of our party. In the call for the mass convention at which the Republican Party was founded in 1854, Charles DeLand wrote:
In view, therefore, of the recent action of Congress upon this subject (the violation of the Missouri Compromise) and the evident designs of the slave power to attempt still further aggressions upon freedom, we invite our fellow citizens without reference to former political associations, who think that the time has arrived for a union at the North to protect liberty from being overthrown and downtrodden. . . .
Emphasis added. Our is a party devoted to protecting and promoting freedom. And good Republicans should not lose sight of that even when our leaders do.
Not only is freedom a noble goal, but it is a clear one as well. We know what we mean by liberty — the freedom to be able to live our lives as we choose, to associate freely, speak freely, practice the faith of our choice and to choose the life-partner of our choice, even if that individual be of the same gender as ourselves.
Equality, however, is a more abstract concept. As Sir James Fitzjames Stephen wrote in the 1870s, “equality is a word so wide and so vague as to be by itself almost unmeaning.” Robert Nisbet feared a “new despotism” if the state attempted to enforce equality:
Only through operation of a single, centralized structure of power that reaches all individuals in a community, that strives to obliterate all gradations of power, rank, and affluence not of this power’s own making, can these variations and this inequality be moderated.
In order to achieve the abstract goal of equality, we would need a stronger central government with ever-increasing regulatory authority. And that authority would severely limit our freedom.
As I wrote in November 2004:
I’m skeptical of campaigns for the government to enforce equality. How is that to defined? Should the government then limit the number of people who can access this or that blog so that each blog has an equal number of readers? That, however, would limit the freedom of blog-readers to read the blogs of their choice. I could go on and on with hypotheticals showing how government concern for equality would limit our freedom.
Log Cabin’s decision to sign on to this leftist rhetoric — and apparently the ideology as well — of the national gay groups means that its leaders have forfeited the opportunity to present a Republican vision of gay rights based on true Republican principles. To do that, Log Cabin would have to abandon the pursuit of the “chimera of equality” and focus instead on the founding idea of our nation — and our political party–Freedom!
In its eagerness to be accepted by national gay groups, Log Cabin’s national leaders have focused on an idea whose realization has been anathema to conservatives and libertarians for generations. In so doing, have forfeited the opportunity to put forward a new vision for an increasingly moribund movement. A vision which has not only sustained the Republican Party since its inception, not only served as the founding ideal for our nation, but which has also inspired our philosophical forebears long ago on the battlefields of Marathon, Thermopylae and Plataea, in the waters off the island of Salamis and in city-states all over the Aegean and Peloponnese.
It’s unfortunate that Log Cabin prefers acceptance by the gay left to this ancient and noble principle.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com