Tuesday, August 19, 2008

so that's that

The bar exam is over. I can now purge useless legal concepts like the Rule Against Perpetuities and the elements to Common Law burglary from my memory forever.

Much has happened over the summer. For instance I now have a definite individual right to own a firearm. Clinton is not running for president anymore. All sorts of good stuff, but sadly I had to spend much of the summer among fellow bar students. The Obamania was almost oppressive. The common attitude seemed to be, with apologies to John Von Neumann, “You say you will campaign for Obama tomorrow, but I say why not today. You say you will begin campaigning today at five o’clock; I say why not one o’clock.”* Nonetheless, I tended to be fairly respectful and quickly found my single confederate. (On a personal note, I am now seeing someone rather seriously, but my parents still think that its a girl).

But rather than talk about particulars (which shall come), after such a long hiatus, I’d like to get back to foundational principles. Why on EARTH am I still a Republican?

I have a stock answer (i.e. my sexual orientation has nothing to do with my views on national security, tax policy, abortions or the environment; the party will only change with pressure from the inside). But that answers only why I am a gay Republican, not why I am a Republican in the first place.

I could go on about the same old stuff—tax & spend, national security, gun rights, abortion—but I won’t. We can talk about those things later. Rather, I am still a Republican because the Party needs me. I’ll go further, YOU need me to be a Republican. You need Mary Cheney to be a Republican. You need Bobby Jindal to be a Republican, and Hector Barreto, and anyone else who is even a little diverse.

Right now there are a few (well more than a few, actually) of us willing to take the bitter with the sweet. But by showing our fellow Republicans that diverse is not bad, and that we don’t have to agree on everything to still share the same broad values, we can slowly but effectively change the face of the party. I find Republicans (especially younger ones) more willing to accept me as gay once they know I still share most of their values (whereas few gays accepts me as Republican). That’s how we change people, by reaching out, not abandoning. I truly believe that in a decade, definitely within two decades, the GOP will embrace this diversity. When that does happen, be thankful that in hard times, some of us didn’t leave the party to the kooks, bigots, and ignorant.

So what about the meantime? Does that mean I give my votes and cash and time to support the totally unsavory to curry favor so I can have a chance to change tomorrow? Not exactly. It does mean I retain credibility within the party by emphasizing what I do agree with and picking my battles. Understand, I have no intention of voting for or otherwise supporting the likes of Sally Kern (which is easy since I don’t live in her district). Yet, if I replace Republicans like her with Democrats, I win on gay issues, but lose on many others just as important to me. No, I want to replace them with better Republicans. Since I don’t have a giant political machine at my disposal I have to support the best of the lot and try to make the next lot even better. So I am content, for now, with Republicans who get maybe a C-/D+ on gay issues instead of a D-/F. I support These are steps, albeit a very small one, in the right direction.

*John von Neumann, one of the 20th Century’s greatest mathematicians, a principal member of the Manhattan Project, and part inspiration for Dr. Strangelove, was, however, talking about preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union and not anything as frivolous as a political campaign.