Tuesday, September 16, 2008
by Wayne Besen
Until now, I have always thought there was a place for the Log Cabin Republicans within the GLBT movement. There was a need for a group that could advocate from inside the belly of the beast and do the dirty work that few intellectually honest people wanted to do. The logic behind this organization was that it made more sense to fight for the soul of the Republican Party than run away and support the Democrats -- which members of this organization have traditionally disagreed with on fiscal and national security matters.
However, the rationale for this organization has significantly eroded, as the GOP has shown itself to be corrupt, inept and incapable of good governance. It has become the party of cronyism, debt and diabolical deceit, while securing its power by enthusiastically pandering to its anti-gay base.
With the stock market plummeting, the real estate bubble bursting, the deficit exploding and gas prices breaking new records -- largely thanks to Republican deregulation of markets and failure to explore alternative energy sources - the myth of Republican economic responsibility has been fatally punctured.
Log Cabin Republicans also justify their party choice on grounds of national security. But, in eight years of mostly Republican rule, America has grown weaker. Our military is stretched thin, we are still bogged down in the bloody money pit of Iraq, Russia is resurgent, and Osama remains free in the same lawless Pakistani border where Al-Qaeda is plotting. Indeed, the 9-11 attacks took place with Republicans in power, including a president who failed to take seriously reports that an attack on America was imminent.
Based on this abominable record, gay Republicans can no longer say that their party's performance on other matters overrides its unyielding opposition to GLBT equality. Between the sullying of America's reputation abroad and the divisiveness on social issues at home, there is no reason that securing GLBT rights should not be the primary focus of Log Cabin Republicans. The choice they present between our equality and the safety and prosperity of this nation has proven itself false.
The final logic for Log Cabin was that it could create "Big Tent" Republicanism by nurturing friendly Republicans who could transform the party. Unfortunately, this election cycle shows that instead of changing the GOP, it is the "supportive" politicians who reinvent themselves to appeal to social conservatives.
Instead of standing on principle, ambitious Log Cabin favorites -- such as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani -- made crass conversions and bowed to anti-gay zealots that an earlier incarnation of John McCain called "agents of intolerance." We even had a sophisticated actor, Fred Thompson, who surely must socialize with gay people in Hollywood, act like he just fell off a turnip truck in overalls.
The truth is, Republican politicians who are pro-gay have no future in the GOP. If they did, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld would have been a rising star. The most famous moderate -- Arnold Schwarzenegger -- has his presidential ambitions chastened by the U.S. Constitution, thus allowing him a degree of autonomy. However, those who want to be president will pander to the preachers.
The Log Cabin experiment to remake the GOP has faltered and they should consider closing shop. At times, it has been a noble project, particularly under the principled leadership of Patrick Guerriero, who refused to endorse Bush in 2004 after the president pushed for the Federal Marriage Amendment.
It is obvious, however, that this organization has outlived its usefulness and has been soundly defeated by much larger, wealthier and influential anti-gay forces. The party is now rotten to the core and thrives on homophobic bigotry, anti-immigrant sentiment, small-minded populism and foolishly mocking our foreign allies at the expense of our long-term national security (remember freedom fries?).
Exactly where does a gay Republican fit into this intolerant scenario?
Log Cabin's tragic endorsement of John McCain exhibits an obdurate denial of his anti-gay record and a stubborn unwillingness to admit that their one-time hero is now hopeless. McCain's VP choice, Sarah Palin, a favorite of the fundamentalist fringe, should have lead to a reevaluation, if not reversal of their endorsement. Like Palin, they didn't blink, and are shamefully in cahoots with destructive forces that would deny GLBT people the most basic rights.
The only chance for gay Republicans to be legitimate players in the GOP is to have the party suffer a string of crushing losses. The defeats have to be so painful and substantial, that they lead to realignment, where the role of social conservatives is significantly diminished. Clearly, the Log Cabin Republicans can only save their party by helping to defeat it.
Both parties agree that this is the election of "change." Log Cabin can take the lead by changing its endorsement of McCain before they further harm the gay and lesbian community. Their suicidal tendency to help a party that despises them is the pink elephant in the room that needs to be discussed. If they can't reform the GOP -- and there is no evidence that they can -- it may be time to disband.