Yesterday, I did a segment on Pajamas TV with John Aravosis of Americablog. We pretty much agreed in our criticism of the gay establishment. After that, though, he did make a point which I, on further reflection, realized I addressed very poorly. I may well have made a good point in response, but I didn’t respond to his point. No wonder he said that he “didn’t understand your point.”
John had said:
Republicans have held us [gay people] hostage by not giving us a choice . . . . [They] have not offered a viable alternative. Gay people don’t have a choice and the worst thing is the [Democratic] Party knows that.
His last point gets at why the President has been slow to act on the promises he made to the gay community. The party elders are likely asking the same question (as they did in the Clinton era) which Moe Lane recently articulated: “I mean, really: what are you going to do about it? Vote Republican?”
Responding to the first part (of John’s comment above), I offered my standard line on how the lives of gay people have improved even in the George W. Bush era. Social conservatives have not been able to block the social changes which have made it easier for us to live our lives openly. And these social changes have continued apace, even with a supposedly hostile Administration in the White House.
Now, that may well be a good point, but in making it, I failed to address John’s point. And he’s right to a certain extent. Those who believe we need more government action to address the concerns of the gay community haven’t found a viable alternative in the GOP. Still, were the GOP to offer alternatives (on gay issues) suitable to liberals like John, I doubt all but a handful of them would vote Republican. Many (if not, most) already harbor a deep-seated animus to the party–which has more to do with their own prejudices than the GOP’s ideology. John McCain’s outreach to gay people last fall all but fell on deaf ears.
Unfortunately, the GOP doesn’t have much to gain by reaching out to gay people.
It does, however, have much to lose if it is perceived as an anti-gay party. That perception will cost (indeed, likely has cost) the GOP the support of socially liberal, but fiscally conservative voters (particularly in northeastern, midwestern and Pacific Coast suburbs). Should the party once again, as notably in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1994 become the party of fiscal discipline (with social issues relegated to a far back burner), Republican candidates will win back those suburban votes–including many gay votes. Many of us don’t vote primarily on gay issues, but won’t vote for anti-gay candidates (with some not voting even for those perceived as anti-gay).
So, back to John’s point, could the GOP provide a viable alternative for gay people favoring aggressive action (i.e., state intervention) on certain issues? Probably not. So, that leaves gay activists in the bind they’re in, all but “trapped” into supporting the Democratic Party. And with the Democratic Party knowing it, it can afford to move slowly on gay issues. The gay voters aren’t going any\where.
All that said, gay people do have a choice. They can appreciate the social change that is happening in the private sector and support the party of smaller government, knowing that with more freedom, we will all have greater control over our own lives. And to get those votes, the GOP merely needs to return to its core principles.
And on that, more anon. Much more.