Thursday, October 18, 2007

Clog Dancing With the GOP

By now, everyone has seen the latest Mitt Romney ad on television. You can’t miss it – it runs every 10 minutes. Mitt with his chiseled jaw and greased down hair (complete with comb tracks) telling us that “when Republicans act like Democrats, America loses.” He focuses on spending, immigration, and ethics in the ad. Romney wisely avoids any mention of family values. After all of the sex scandals this past year, who would trust their family with a Republican?

In July, State Representative Bob Allen of Florida was arrested in a men’s room. It seems Allen offered to pay an undercover officer to allow Allen to perform a sexual act upon the officer. Allen later claimed that he only made the offer because the officer was black and he “didn’t want to become a statistic.” Is offering to pay for the privilege of performing oral sex a common reaction when one is afraid? I’ve never experienced that kind of fear myself. What is clear is that in the GOP it’s better to admit to being a racist than a homosexual.

Last week in Wisconsin, Brown County GOP Chair Donald Fleischman was arrested for enticement and fondling an underage boy. The boy was a runaway who was staying at Fleischman’s house, where he allegedly plied the lad with beer and marijuana, and then fondled him. Mr. Fleischman has resigned from his post.

St. Bernard Parish Councilman Joey DiFatta, who was a candidate for the Louisiana State Senate, withdrew from the race, after reports came to light that he’d been picked up for lewd conduct in men’s rooms on two occasions. In 1996, he was arrested for peeping in a men’s room stall, while a man was using the bathroom. The second time involved foot tapping and hand signals recently made famous by Idaho Senator Larry Craig. DiFatta claims he was withdrawing from the race before the reports were made public, for health reasons. He’s been having chest pains. Apparently it gets hard to breathe in the closet.

Larry Craig, Mark Foley – the list goes on and on. It’s tempting to make snide political hay with all of this, and I confess to succumbing to that impulse from time to time. The sad reality, however, is that the GOP has a real problem – one that needs to be tackled honestly. Since the Republican Party was high jacked by right wing religious ideologues in the 90’s, they’ve gone out of their way to piously claim to be the party of family values. It’s easy to cite thousands of cases that prove otherwise. From Newt Gingrich to Larry Craig – we know better, now. The GOP has based their claims of family values on a 1950’s clean scrubbed nuclear family image, the kind of family that seldom, if ever, really existed.

That mean spirited ideology pushed a lot of Republicans into hiding, into a degree of sexual repression that may have caused some of the aberrant behavior we’ve seen in the last year. If Republicans were free to be openly gay, would they be caught trying to solicit sex in men’s rooms? Would they disavow their own gay children – like Alan Keyes did? Many Republicans have gay children – and these same staunch fellows legislate against the rights of their own family. How can we believe them when they tell us they support family values? Look what they do to their own kids.

In NH in 2006, the GOP lost control of the entire state of NH. One reason for that loss was the complacent attitude of the NH Republican Party. They believed that rattling the spectre of an income tax was enough to keep the GOP in power. After all, it had worked for over 100 years. They weren’t smart enough to realize that the world is changing, and so is our state. No longer can they run on yesterday’s platform. No longer can they run by whipping the faithful into a frenzy over yesterday’s fears.

VT has had civil unions for a few years now. The sky did not fall. Vermont did not suffer a plague of locusts. The heterosexual couples have not raced to divorce court. In Massachusetts, gay couples can marry. The state did not spontaneously combust. No floods, famines, or pestilence have struck our neighbors to the south. In both cases, nothing much changed, except that some couples who love each other could make a legal commitment to one another. They have legal standing they weren’t able to experience before. New families have come into being. Contrast that with the 10,000 soldiers who have been kicked out of the military for being gay, since the odious “don’t ask, don’t tell” was initiated.

If the GOP wants to survive, they’re going to have to rethink their position on homosexuality. If the GOP wants to survive, they’re going to have to develop a message that goes beyond lip service to an outdated notion of family, and focuses on more than hate and taxes. In our corner of NH, we know that climate change is real. We see it. This country faces real problems that require real solutions. Mouthing the platitudes of the past isn’t enough any more. It’s time for the GOP to move into the present, and acknowledge the fact that they’ve overplayed the hatred, and it’s turning on them. The party hierarchy should also consider the very real possibility that the men’s rooms at the next GOP convention could be mistaken for a clog dancing demonstration, if they aren’t careful. It’s time for the GOP to widen its narrow stance on homosexuality.

“You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.” Barry Goldwater


Anonymous said...

I like the way you write, Lady...only because the truth doesnt always come in a package of smiling faces and sunny happiness. The Repubs have done nothing any different than the Dems in the morality category other than claim to be virtuous and righteous. A dangerous position for any human mainly because....we just aint that way.

Thomas Maher said...

Keep it up! While the right is filled with vitriol your writing has set out facts. No one here is against gays, we are against lying about being gay.

I suspect the same is true about victimless crime. We need to free the minorities convicted of possession of small amounts of crack while the son of a yuppie goes free for only have a couple of grams.

Hypocrisy is the evil.