I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" dilemma

No I'm not talking about the military but the Republican Party. Dale Carpenter at the Volokh Conspiracy recognizes that the problems for the Republican Party like Larry Craig are self inflicted wounds. This is a good follow up to my post below.
No most of the Republicans are not hypocrites but because of official, pander to the base, policy every incident hurts.
Whenever one of these morality scandals comes up – whether it involves homosexuality, adultery, or being on a list compiled by someone the media calls a “Madam” – it often involves a Republican. Critics love to charge Republicans with hypocrisy – preaching traditional family values to the rest of us by day while trolling bathrooms and pressing sweaty palms to computer keyboards by night.

Whatever explains these other public moral dramas, hypocrisy doesn’t fully capture the GOP’s plainly dysfunctional relationship to homosexuality. Believe it or not, there are plenty of traditional-values Republicans who are not secretly gay. They might be wrong about homosexuality, but they’re not hypocrites.

Yes, there are many prominent Republicans whose private actions are inconsistent with their traditional-values personas. Sen. Larry “I am Not a Gay American” Craig is the latest of them, assuming the various allegations against him are true. Jim West had an aggressively anti-gay record both as a Washington state legislator and as mayor of Spokane, yet cruised for gay sex and anonymously told an online acquaintance that he hated the “sex Nazis” who try to regulate people’s private lives. There are many other examples.
"Don't ask don't tell"
What unites these cases is not really hypocrisy. It’s two other things. First, nearly all the gay Republicans working in Washington or elsewhere are to one degree or another closeted. Second, very few Republican officials care whether someone is gay.

From the top of the party to the bottom, few Republicans personally and viscerally dislike gay people. President Bush has had friends he knew were gay. So has Vice President Cheney. Even the most prominently and vigorously anti-gay Republican, Sen. Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, had a gay spokesperson whom he defended when his homosexuality became known.

The big, open secret in Republican politics is that everyone knows someone gay these days and very few people – excepting some committed anti-gay activists – really care. It’s one of the things that drives religious conservatives crazy because it makes the party look like it’s not really committed to traditional sexual morality.

So to keep religious conservatives happy the party has done two things. First, it has steadfastly resisted efforts to ease anti-gay discrimination in public policy, even when Republican politicians know better. I can’t tell you how many Republican staffers told me, for example, that their bosses privately opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment but would be voting for it anyway.

Second, to keep the talent it needs and simply to be as humane and decent as politically possible toward particular individuals, the party has come up with its own unwritten common-law code: you can be gay and work here, we don’t care, but don’t talk about it openly and don’t do anything to make it known publicly in the sense that either the media or the party’s religious base might learn of it. It's the GOP's own internal version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

This uneasy mix of the public and the private is not exactly what I’d call hypocrisy. It’s perhaps better described as a form of ideological schizophrenia: private acceptance welded to public rejection. It’s a very unstable alloy.
An "unstable alloy", what a great way to describe it. I'm imagine that conservatives like Mr Carpenter knew the alloy would eventually fly apart as it is. But what choice did the Republicans have. The Republicans could never win elections based on their feudal economic policy. A majority of Americans really don't like the idea of being indentured servants and serfs. Lee Attwater and later Karl Rove knew this and cultivated the social conservatives. Many gays were attracted to the Libertarian Republican party. Most of the movers and shakers in the Republican party don't have a problem with gays or are gay themselves but under Attwater and Rove they sold the Libertarian soul of the party to the Christian Taliban. An unstable alloy indeed.
Ideological Schizophrenia
This uneasy mix of the public and the private is not exactly what I’d call hypocrisy. It’s perhaps better described as a form of ideological schizophrenia: private acceptance welded to public rejection. It’s a very unstable alloy.

For the closeted gay Republican, this alloy means a life of desperation and fear and loneliness, of expressing one's true feelings only in the anonymity of the Internet, of furtive bathroom encounters, of late nights darting in and out of dark bars, hoping not to be seen. It means life without a long-term partner, without real love.

Worst of all, it may mean a life of deceiving a spouse and children. It’s hardly surprising that most of the men caught cruising in parks, bathrooms, and other public places are deeply closeted and often married. They don’t see themselves as having many other options.

Nevertheless, it seems to work until the day you get caught tapping your toe next to a cop. Desperation sets in and you say things that bring everyone much mirth at your expense, like, “I’m not gay, I just have a wide stance.”

For the GOP, this alloy of public rejection and private acceptance means enduring more of these periodic public morality convulsions. How to end it? The private acceptance will continue and, I predict, become even more prevalent as young conservatives comfortable around gay people take over. There will be no purging the party of gays. There is no practical way to purge them, and even if there were, most Republicans would be personally repulsed by such an effort.

These closeted politicians, staffers, and party functionaries will occasionally be found out one way or another and again will come the shock, the pledges to go into rehab, the investigations, the charges of hypocrisy, the schadenfreude from Democrats and libertines, the sense of betrayal from the party’s religious conservatives.
As I said below the Christian Taliban will simply stay home. They won't vote for the heathen Democrats but they won't vote for the Republicans. Without them the Republicans can't win. The Republicans have attempted to play the race card but this is also a dead end. Bigots are getting harder to find and they have lost the fastest growing pool of voters - the Hispanics.

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