Consider the example of Jack Kemp, who has spent much of his career since leaving Congress arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party that could build beyond its base of economic and social conservatives and reach out to traditionally Democratic constituencies.
Most Republicans know that enterprise zones and other nostrums presented as alternatives to "failed" liberal social policy are window dressing. Kemp's problem is that he takes the window dressing seriously, but none of his GOP colleagues have the heart to tell him.
Which made me think about this article in Salon about David Cantania, a D.C. city council member openly gay and a member of the Log Cabin Republicans who had his position as a delegate to the Republican National Convention revoked because he wouldn't promise to vote for George W. Bush in November:
Her argument was that you had publicly said you would not support George Bush and therefore you should not be at the convention.
Her argument is a curious one. In order to be certified as a delegate you have to be a District resident, [you have to be] a registered voter by one year in the District of Columbia, and you have to be willing to support the president's nomination at the convention. Obviously I fulfill the first two, and I would vote for Bush's nomination at the convention, so on its face I met the requirements of being a delegate. The issue is, she wanted me to state that I would be supportive of the president in November, a position, frankly, that no other member of the delegation has been asked to swear a blood oath to. Certainly no one -- I'm not an imbecile -- wants their delegates breaking rank. It looks bad and it's embarrassing to have any of your delegates say, "Look, pal, I'm parting company at the end of this party." And that's where I am. I've been very clear I'm not going to support him in November.
Why did you still want to attend the convention as a delegate?
I was willing to support Bush at the convention because my other motivation is the platform. [Catania was supposed to serve on the convention's platform committee.] And it's not just the issues of gay and lesbian civil rights or marriage. I've been elected three times citywide. As a member of the D.C. Council, I have a whole series of urban agenda items I've worked on that include applying Republican principles to urban problems and finding creative solutions that work, and I wanted to be at the convention to talk about how the Republican Party could construct an urban agenda for itself.
Which became further associated in my mind when I read this this morning at Tom Tomorrow's blog:
One other thing: just on the off chance Andrew Sullivan is reading this, I thought I would compile some of the thoughts his fellow Reagan-worshippers were kind enough to share with Rall ... just so he can see the kind of company he's keeping:By the way, Teddie, it doesn't take a cartoonist to figure out that AIDS was spread by unprotected anal sex amongst homosexuals back then (and still is), not by the President. Now Teddie, you wouldn't be familiar with that practice, would you?... You are a cocksucker,Go back to the USSR, that failed like you.When you are a fag, you need to pull your head out of your ass ... Just for the record, President Reagan did not kill 500,000 gays--they killed themselves by having promiscuous sex without protection and leading a perverted lifestyle. Why is it that people can't take responsibility for their OWN actions, and have to blame their troubles on other people?... Check the mirror and you'll see a wessal-like, weak, weak little asshole of a man and maybe even a faggot ... I could tell by the way you talk, you’ve consumed much sperm, and are addicted to homosexuality ... Fuck you! you cocksucker!... You piss ant twerp… I would shove those gay glasses up your ass… You Cocksucker FUCK YOU ... Mother Fucking low life communist faggot pig. You are as much of a virus as the aids virus. The problem with this country is you and the faggotry you practice ...
Those are your peeps, Andrew. Those are the people with whom you have aligned yourself. Just so you know.
(Any time I go through one of these periodic shitstorms, any time some dimwit right wing blogger decides to send his dimwit readers after me--this is the kind of stuff I get as well. You faggot, you suck dick, blah blah blah. There are still plenty of people out there for whom homosexuality is an active insult, to be hurled indiscriminately at one's opponents. And at the risk of generalizing, I think it's fair to say that most of them vote Republican.)
Add to this whole thing that Grover Norquist wants to get the late Ronald Reagan's visage on our currency, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist wants to rename the Pentagon after the Gipper(to something like "The Ronald Reagan National Defense Complex," which has all the ring of anything you'd expect a government employee to come up with), and yet Laura Bush insists that there's not a chance in hell that her husband will reconsider his position on stem cell research at the behest of Nancy Reagan. Can't wait to honor him in his death, but consider funding research that might have helped him live more comfortably or that might save other families from the agony of watching a loved one wither away, the legions of "compassionate" conservatives dart their eyes away and quickly change the subject. Look! A statue!
I suppose similar things can be found within the Democratic party, but the Republicans are in charge now and they get the scrutiny. And there is some tether connecting all of these things, but I can't quite put my finger on it. It's the fundamental dishonesty of power. Calling legislation that permits industrial polluters more leeway "The Clean Skies Initiative," or GWB touting the existence of government programs for families and working parents that he tried to kill as evidence that he cares, even though he's planning on trying to kill them again after the election.
It's all rotten, but what does it take for certain people to get that the group they belong to really doesn't give a damn about them or about the things they care about?