Free Markets, Free People

big tent


Why Conservatives Should Embrace Gay Marriage

I already mentioned that marriage, kids, and a mortgage are very strong indicators of conservatism.  Here’s a straightforward causal explanation: when you’re invested in something, you don’t want it to be taken from you, and you’re skeptical of starry-eyed meddlers doing anything that might threaten it.  Probably the best thing done for the cause against gun control was teaching others how to use and maintain a firearm: once people own one, it sharpens the mind to cut through any argument for taking it away.

But a gun is a small investment compared to a committed and intimate relationship, custody of children, and homeownership.  A dollar taxed is one that you can’t spend on your family when they want something, a dollar borrowed is one that your kids will pay back, and that meddler on TV is rolling the dice with a major part of your life.

In the case of immigration, Hispanics are already primed to be conservative because they’re already invested.  With gay marriage, you have a group trying awfully hard to get more invested.

The conservative argument for embracing gay marriage is that marriage seems to be a fine institution that benefits even people who can’t have children together, and that it may strengthen the institution and the country to expand the institution so that a nontrivial minority of the population is on the inside trying to protect it rather than on the outside where their exclusion leads to thorny political issues of respect and tribalism.

Another conservative argument is that if gay marriage is politically inevitable, conservatives should proactively move through legislation to ensure that it goes smoothly without infringing on other freedoms (like those of association and contract), rather than allow this to play out entirely in the courts or in a referendum.  If conservatives keep trying to board the windows, more stuff is going to end up broken than if they just opened the door.

As with immigration and Hispanics, marriage may not be gays’ top priority, but it matters, and the way Republicans approach and discuss the issue can signal that “you’re not one of us,” which is poison for coalition-building.

The flip side of that coin doesn’t have to be pandering; given the consciousness of gay communities about targeted violence and bullying, it’d be awesome if conservatives taught more gays how to use and maintain firearms.


Dems–boot blue dogs, fold big tent

Ari Berman of "The Nation” does an op-ed for the New York Times in which he pushes for the removal (or at least the non-support) of the blue dog Democrats such as Heath Schuler of NC. 

Now that doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me – just as the Tea Party wants the less than conservative members of the Republican party replaced with more reliably fiscal conservative members.

That said, however, I loved the “reasoning” quoted for this desire:

Margaret Johnson, a former party chairwoman in Polk County, N.C., helped elect Representative Shuler but now believes the party would be better off without him. “I’d rather have a real Republican than a fake Democrat,” she said. “A real Republican motivates us to work. A fake Democrat de-motivates us.”

Well there you go – remember the left has been lambasting the right for who knows how long for not offering a “big tent” but essentially being a narrow based “all white male” party.  Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel concocted the 50 state strategy which recruited blue dogs like Schuler because they were “electable” in those districts and that strategy gave Democrats a “super majority”.  But what real good did it do? 

The argument is “wouldn’t you rather have someone that would vote with you 70% of the time rather than someone who will vote for your programs 0% of the time?  The answer is “no”.  Not if you actually want to get those things done which require critical votes and the 30% of the time they don’t vote with you is when those votes occur.  Tea Partiers figured this out a while ago.  And again, they’ve been lambasted for being so non-inclusive.  Karl Rove, an inveterate seat counter, focuses solely on the number of “Republicans” in each chamber.  Tea Partiers and conservatives focus on the ideology of those running and only support those who are, in Ms. Johnson’s words, “real Republicans” as the TP and conservatives define them.

It appears Democrats, lately of the “big tent”, are now looking toward a smaller tent.  That would include the architect of the 50 state strategy, Howard Dean:

Ms. Johnson is right: Democrats would be in better shape, and would accomplish more, with a smaller and more ideologically cohesive caucus. It’s a sentiment that even Mr. Dean now echoes. “Having a big, open-tent Democratic Party is great, but not at the cost of getting nothing done,” he said.

Yeah … exactly what a number of us have been saying for years.  Look, people throw the word “ideology” around like it is some sort of bad word.  It’s not.  It is your political philosophy, your principles, your belief in what politics should reflect.

Does anyone believe those that founded this country weren’t ideologically driven?   That they didn’t have a definite set of principles  that were foundation of what they created?

“Big tent” is a wonderfully nebulous and useless concept that implies that inclusiveness is more important than principles.  It’s nonsense as both sides are discovering.  You’re either for something, in terms of principles, or you’re not.  “Including” others who don’t necessarily share your principles is simply an exercise in, well, seat counting, which as both the GOP and Democrats have finally discovered, is a waste of time.

~McQ

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