« Cool, part two! | Main | More inanity at the Beeb »

Why bother with elections?

Some gay people are offended that Brian Ellner, the openly gay candidate for Manhattan borough president, is supporting Bloomberg for mayor. That makes him a "sellout," apparently. Why? Good question. I mean, it's not like he's going to work for Rick Santorum or something. Bloomberg's record on gay rights is solid. I guess the simple fact that he has the hated "(R)" after his name is enough to make him anathema to some gay activists.

This kind of thing pisses me off.

I'm reminded of a recent debate I had with two friends. Friend One opened the debate with, "Shame on X for being a gay conservative." Let's set aside the fact that it's far from established that X actually is gay -- so far as I know, this is unsubstantiated rumor perpetuated by those who do not wish him well. (In fact, I'm not fully convinced that X is even a conservative, but that's another issue.)

I find this kind of thinking patently offensive -- namely, that one's race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or some other accident of birth should determine one's political philosophy, and that if you depart from that orthodoxy, you're somehow a "sellout" to your team.

Why can't (or why shouldn't) a gay person be conservative? Also, why is it that these questions are only asked about conservatives? Why does no one ever accost Jon Corzine or Jay Rockefeller with, "Shame on you for being a rich white liberal?"

Well, because it would be stupid, that's why. But no stupider than criticizing (say) Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas or X for being on the "wrong" team.

To my surprise, Friend Two (who is eminently more reasonable than Friend One) pretty much bought into the whole premise that X was somehow shameful.

"What's wrong with being a gay conservative?" I asked.

He replied that he thought of it as kind of a converse to the old Groucho Marx maxim about not wanting to join any club that would have him as a member.

Well, I suppose one could make that argument about Republicanism. But conservatism is not a club. It's something you are, based on what you believe about the proper functioning of government.

What would you call a gay person who, say, supports a flat tax? Or wants to cut federal spending? Or wants to wage an aggressive war against a form of religious extremism that would stone him if it had its way? Or wants to privatize Social Security? Nominate originalist judges? Defend private gun ownership?

Such people exist, let me assure you. You can't really call them liberals, either. And it would be unfair to ask them to change their political opinions just because they're not "appropriate" for someone of their sexual persuasion. So what should they do? Refer to themselves as independents, even though their thoughts and beliefs overlap almost entirely with conventional conservatism? What would be the point in that? I don't mean to claim that such people are typical of homosexuals -- they may even be in a minority -- but I know for a fact that they exist because I count a number of them among my friends.

There's no such thing as complete ideological purity. If a gay person can't be (or shouldn't be) a conservative, am I likewise disqualified from conservatism for supporting gay rights? Or abortion rights? Or being an agnostic? All of those all seem like pretty big ticket items, and yet those who know me well politically know it would be absurd to try to pretend that I'm not a conservative.

If we really want to believe that demographic considerations such as race and sexual orientation should determine ideology or party affiliation, then why bother to have elections at all? Let's save all the time and money and just elect people based on census data.

If you're gay, or a minority or a woman, or non-rich, your vote will be counted for the Democratic ticket. I guess that would leave the infamous "richest two percent" of the country for the Republicans. But as I pointed out earlier, rich white people somehow seem to be exempt from the expectations that demographics determine ideology. So since rich white people are allowed to be liberals without fear of criticism or censure, let's split their vote 50-50 between the two parties.

There, that was easy. Now all future elections will be decided for the Democrats by 99 to 1.

Now does the agenda of these people become clear?

Listen, here's my advice. If anyone ever tells you you should vote a certain way
because of your race, your ethnicity, your income level or your sex or your sexual orientation, tell them to take a flying you-know-what at a rolling donut. That's not what America's about. In the end, these people simply frustrated, bitter and pissed off because a majority of voters had the audacity and temerity not to vote how exactly how they wanted them to.

Well too damn bad.


As a conservative atheist, I frequently find myself in a similar position. Being "neither fish nor fowl" means you're always going to end up pissing off some segment of both camps. I console myself with the knowledge that most of the people it annoys are the kind of people I'd actively try to piss off, if I had the spare time.

Of course, we all do it. Life requires it. One can't address each individual variation in each person's belief system, so we classify people. This person's a fiscal liberal and social conservative, that person's a socialist treehugger, and THAT person's a vertically-challenged horizontally-enhanced occupationally flexible one-legged lesbian nun.

We make our little definitions and get comfortable with them, and it offends our sensibilities when a rectangular peg refuses to be pounded into a square hole. It's got four sides and it's just LOADED with 90-degree angles! Why won't that bastard COOPERATE?

Just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean I give a damn what you pray to. Or where you do it, for that matter. But thanks to certain hyperactivist fuckwits on the west coast, the mere MENTION of the word "atheist" here in the Bible belt is going to get you some dirty looks from bystanders, at the very least; because it's immediately assumed that I'd be perfectly happy if the Christians rounded up and sent to the nearest coliseum as Purina Lion Chow.

It's part of the human condition.

I share your situation, apotheosis. During the '04 elections, my friend's entire argument against Bush appeared to be that he was strongly religious. I attempted to explain that how religious a man was didn't make a lick of difference to me, so much as how I believed he was going to behave and what actions I thought he was going to take as chief executive.

Ah well. What can I say? I've never been a team player.

Shame on you for calling Choke your friend.


"hyperactivist fuckwit". apotheosis, you are awesome. Good points, also.

I would agree with you except for the following facts: 1)Brian Ellner ran a campaign AGAINST President Bush (which, admittedly, was odd since he was running for the President of Manhattan, not the President of the United States); 2) Brian Ellner frequently and harshly criticized Mayor Bloomberg during the race (at one point, he said the Mayor should be "run out of town" for his position on same-sex marriage); 3) Above all, Brian Ellner ran as a GAY candidate and Mayor Bloomberg has vetoed several important pieces of pro-gay legislation, including a bill that would protect gay school kids from being bullied.

This is the definition of a hypocritical politician. He uses the liberal base to win votes. As soon as he loses, he flips to become a Republican!

Post a comment