Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gay conservatives at the crossroads

The Foley affair leads in many directions. In my previous posting I chose to focus on only a few of them.

Many find the attachment of some gay men and lesbians to the Republican Party-—and to conservatism in general-—anomalous and counterintuitive. On reflection there seem to me to be two sources of the Pink Elephant phenomenon.

1) The grass roots. Exit polling suggests that the Republicans can command somewhere between a quarter and a third of the gay-lesbian vote. This means that several million people are not voting “as they should.” Given the hiddenness of this cohort we can only speculate on the reasons. With some individuals family ties may be the deciding factor. That is the case with Mary Cheney, though she is scarcely typical. The attachment may also develop from experiences in adult life. The small business enterprises in which many gays are engaged engender a natural distrust of big government. These are the people shudder when someone appears with a clipboard, saying: “Hi, I’m with the government. I’m here to help.” Marxists often used to point out a principle they themselves rarely exemplified. That is, that lessons learned in daily life often trump the supposed certainties of theory. Speaking of the left, some of the gay conservatives are of the Tammy Bruce type--people who have been there, and have moved in the other direction.

2) Gay conservatism as theory. Practical politics suggests an ideal of balance: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. There are plenty of gays and lesbians in the Democratic Party to keep them honest-—or so we hope. Prudence suggests that some presence in the Republican Party would be useful. Then there is a broader consideration. We are citizens first and gays second, not the other way around. There are various ways of interpreting the national interest. For some a winning combination is limited government but a strong defense. The hope (since cruelly dissipated) was that the libertarian component would be a major element. In fact the writings of leading gay conservatives, such as Andrew Sullivan and Dale Carpenter, are informed by careful reading of such theorists as Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, and Friedrich Hayek. It is tempting to regard gay conservatism as simply a mistake. Sometimes we are told that the gay conservatives are self-hating. These shallow responses are intellectually lazy. They will do nothing to pry the gaycons away from their allegiances.

Why are gays and lesbians drawn to public service, especially in Washington? The glass ceiling may help account for the place that these individuals end up. Running for office would risk exposing them. By being staffers they can enjoy a share of power by serving as éminences grises.

As to the Pink Elephants in general, probably they start out in category one, without much theory. Then they may read some books, follow Log Cabin, and so forth, thus developing a certain veneer of theory.

As I have shown the hopes of gay conservatives were not altogether irrational. Many rallied to their cause because theirs was a serious analysis. All the same, given the magnitude of the Republican betrayal of hopes, one should now expect massive defections. This should happen, but it may not. The answer probably lies in the motivation of the grass-roots types, who will remain loyal no matter what. Their stance curiously mirrors the stalwarts of the Christian Right, who are sticking with the Republicans no matter what.

In any event, the process of separating oneself from a deeply held political faith is typically long and arduous. One of the best accounts of this process of self-deprogramming comes from Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), the Hungarian Stalinist who became an anti-Communist. Koestler said that to travel from the first inkling that he must leave the Party to the final separation took seven years. One reason for the delay is that one’s friendship network consists mainly of fellow believers. To abandon the faith means to set forth on a lonely path, seeking new associates who may be suspicious because of one’s former allegiance. A recent example, close to home, is that of Mel White. For a good many years White, an evangelical and closeted gay man, served the interests of Jerry Falwell and Oliver North. Then he came out, and formed Soulforce, an organization dedicated to opposing the homophobia of the Christian right

A few years ago when gay liberals and leftists finally deigned to notice the existence of the gay conservatives they did not apply much brainpower to the endeavor. This intellectual deficit is evident in the exposé books of Richard Goldstein and Paul Robinson. Their claim that such individuals are self-hating simply does not hold up. Those I have met are fine human beings. In their view the gay-conservative project was worth trying. . For most, recovery from Pink Elephantism will not be speedy. Doctrinaire liberals chanting “I told you so” will not induce a rush to the exit doors. These individuals have no real understanding of how gay conservatives became conservative.

Still, when all is said and done the experiment has failed. What may have been worth trying in 1996 is not viable in 2006. It is time for all thinking gays and lesbians to get out of the Republican Party. However they cannot be ordered to do so. Real change comes from within.


Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Wayne and all,

Here's some more red hot ink for your pen. Now help me vanquish the sword!

This Foley fiasco has given people the chance to change the make-up of this government, which will ultimately lead to the end of the Bush-Cheney reign. It may not be pretty, but it is a gift, nonetheless. Don't waste this advantage. Use it wisely to end the more pressing problems that face us all.

Want to better understand some of the desperation among top Christian politicos? Want to know what else they are pretending not to know about? Follow the links and read about who I am and what I have to say. Notice that my last name is Page? Think this "page" scandal is a mere coincidence? The timing and ramifications are much worse than most realize yet.

If Christian political leaders are going to go around attacking others for not living up to their professed values, it's a damn good idea to be truthful and actually walk the walk. Logs and motes in the eye, camels through the eye of a needle, glass houses, kettles and pots, and what goes around comes around, et al. Karma's a bitch when She finally decides enough is enough! This wouldn't have been so bad on Republicans if they hadn't been such arrogant hypocrites in order to corner the so-called values voters! Now the "Two Candlesticks" and "Two Witnesses" (Truth and Justice) are "breathing fire" and "raining hailstones!"

Christian Political Leadership, Hypocrisy, Duplicity, and Purposeful Evil

The current scandal involving Congressman Foley is merely the latest in an amazingly long list of blatant deception and duplicity by Republicans and the Christian Right in recent years. While bedeviling us all with their holier-than-thou pretenses, they consistently support and/or perform blatant greed and abominable evil. Never forget the extent of their arrogance over the last two decades and especially the last 6 years. It is beyond amazing that Christians continue to blindly support such obviously blatant scoundrels, even as they are repeatedly exposed going against the most basic of human values. The level of hypocrisy and duplicity boggles the mind. There is no longer any doubt, whatsoever, that Christianity is little more than a purposeful deception used by political and religious leaders to dupe, manipulate, and coerce entire populations into giving them wealth and power, which they always use for greed, injustice, and abominable evils.

The actions of Foley and those who covered up for him directly parallel the actions of scores of priests that have raped innocent children, preyed upon others for centuries, and had their actions hidden and abetted by the Vatican. Now, in eerie repetition of Vatican history, we have a power hungry Christian Emperor (GW) working closely with the Vatican and Judeo-Christian aristocrats to lead crusades in the so-called Holy Land. Furthermore, to leave little doubt about the reality of this assessment, the USA, as the new Holy Roman Empire, is about to legalize the torture it has perpetrated in recent years while steadily reversing many of the democratic and civil freedoms that people gained when the Vatican and royalty lost control of their European empire at the turn of the nineteenth century. Now we see them following the same old path of evil as they strive to cement the status of the USA as the latest proxy Vatican empire. Make no mistake about it, the new dark ages are looming on the horizon unless we do something proactive to prevent it.

Remember that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it!

Read More:
Here is Wisdom !!


12:02 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Your rather charitable assessment of the motives of gay Republicans might be valid if many of them weren't active in drafting and promoting anti gay policy and legislation. True, a fiscal, and perhaps even a social conservative can be gay without necessarily being hypocritical and self hating, but not if they support and promote, as do many Republican congressional gay aides, measures that hurt other homosexuals as homosexuals. It is not intellectually lazy to call such people self loathing or cynically ambitious.

As I said in my own blog on the issue, I work in a field that brings me into close contact with members of various types of persecuted groups. Self hate is, in fact, a clinically recognized effect of persecution. People are even ashamed to admit that they have been persecuted, since an extended period of persecution generally results in the persecuted group's believing that the oppressors were somehow justified in persecuting them. A very frequent effect of this process is that a certain number of the oppressed cross over the line and join the oppressors.

Agreed, designating gay Republicans as such is not likely to convince them to abandon the party. They probably won't leave until the Republicans themselves turn the heat up too high under them.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

The concept of ethnic self-hatred was introduced by Theodor Lessing in 1930, with reference to Otto Weininger, who certainly qualifies. Would the concept apply to Ludwig Wittgenstein, though, who was a great admirer of Weininger?

The question is where to draw the line. I have sometimes been accused of being a self-hating homosexual because I did not support some of the tactics used to attain gay marriage in the United States. That seems clearly absurd. I am also opposed to the criminalization of "hate crimes" across the board. Does that qualify me? Some would say so.

Like the accusation of racism, the concept of ethnic self-hatred can easily become a weapon against those whose tactics one disagrees with. In this sense it is not a clinical entity.

It could be argued that gay Republican staffers acting behind the scenes have blocked or blunted antigay legislative measures. I once asked a gay lobbyist in Albany what he had accomplished that year. "Nothing," he replied, "but we blocked some bills."

I am interested in writing the history, perhaps the obituary, of gay conservatism, a subject with which I am pretty well acquainted. My premise, which many will find unacceptable, is that the endeavor was worth making, even though it now has failed. In this way I will achieve a twofer: I will enrage the gaycons by saying that their ideas are now moribund, and the liberals who hold that the gaycon adventure was always a crock. Oh, well, I am used to unpopularity.

There is the larger question of the viability of conservative ideas, which I consider settled in the affirmative, witness only Burke, Hayek, and Oakeshott. This does not mean that some liberal ideas are not viable also, but I do not accept the blanket rejection of all conservative thinking that is still popular in bien pensant circles. I am afraid that this notion, which I consider an uninformed one, lies at the root of many of the objections to the gaycon project.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Please read my previous comment carefully before commenting upon it! I made it very clear that I have no problem with fiscal or even social gay conservatism (although I do not share their views).

My problem is clearly only with gays who have consciously furthered measures that have deprived gay men and women of their rights and dignity.

There is nothing in what I have written to in any way justify the intimation that I am using the concept of self hate to slander those whose tactics I disagree with. Again, it is quite clear that I am discussing ends and not means.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

My comment was not intended to refute what you said, Bruce, but to indicate the problematic character of allegations of ethnic (and gay) self-hatred.

You point to gays who are harming our interests. But how is such harm to be defined? As a critic of the gay left I held that the GLF and other groups in the 'seventies who supported Fidel Castro, even as he was placing gays in work camps, were harming our interests. But were these people on the left self-hating? I don't think so. Unfortunately, my leftist counterparts have not been so charitable towards me.

7:33 AM  

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