Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


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The Grand New Republic

Update: This post was adapted by The Daily Caller. You can find that article here.

“What’s happened with the Republicans is they are, the Republican Party, is a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ America. And it just doesn’t fit anymore.” –Matthew Dowd

“We’ve lost the country.” –Rush Limbaugh

Some voters just want to watch the world burn.

Watching Fox News on the day after the election, you saw a fascinating dynamic at play. A number of pundits spoke sympathetically of amnesty and openly criticized Arizona SB 1070 amid discussion of how to appeal to the growing Hispanic population. The O’Reilly Factor featured the unflinching admonition “to stop this Bible-based bashing of gay people,” while other segments noted the unprecedented 4 for 4 sweep gay marriage advocates won at the ballot box. The telling sentiment of the day, however, was that conservatives cannot and will not compromise on principles. So where do we go from here?

For starters, we must recognize the historic nature of this election. Barack Obama won reelection despite disastrous unemployment and a dubious economic outlook. (We’ll set aside the matter of the murdered U.S. ambassador.) Decisive electoral failure under such extraordinary circumstances, even as the country overall shifted right, certainly merits some existential panic, despite modest gubernatorial gains and a reelected House majority. But whether you think the president won without a mandate by small and divisive tactics or prevailed largely on the rote inertia of incumbency, he undeniably did so while playing heavily to the demographic strengths of the Democratic coalition—women, Latinos, blacks, millennials, gays—and everybody knows that everybody knows this.

Somewhere along the way, the Party of Lincoln became, in the eyes of an ever growing segment of America, the Party of Aging, White (Straight), Embittered Men given to fits of delusion. There are many ways, reasons, and heated denials about how this happened, but in the end, Mitt Romney lost, Barack Obama will have his second term, and the Democratic majority in the Senate will grow, as will its presence in the House. Speaking of the incoming Congress, white men will make up less than half of the House Democratic caucus for the first time in history. But for all the rekindled talk of the perpetual dominance of the jackass, even the largest political majorities are, in the grander scheme, fleeting. Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas were solidly blue in the 90s. Now they are deep red. Maine voted down gay marriage in 2009 and voted it up in 2012.

Assuming you noticed the tagline on my blog or on Twitter, you may have wondered how I could feel comfortable being Republican. After all, only 6% of blacks voted for Romney, and the GOP is understandably anathema to many gay Americans and their disproportionately young and professional allies. But I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t expect the Party to look as it does now in ten years, or even by 2016. For one, there are many tough but necessary choices ahead that will strain the special-interest-driven coalition of the Left, whatever happens with white voters, and anything is possible over the next two to four years.

The conservative movement and its values of liberty, discipline, personal responsibility, virtue, family, community, duty, and free enterprise are objectively superior to the creeping statism and obdurate collectivism of the Left. The setback of this election notwithstanding, conservatism is far from dead or even moribund. It is merely in the process of doing what all successful life does—namely, to quote the president, evolving. The matter of adjusting tone and approach to such hot-button issues as immigration, abortion, and gay equality is not one of abandoning core principles. Rather, the project before the Party of Ronald Reagan and Condoleezza Rice is to apply those values to new circumstances and new audiences.

To this end, Republican willingness to engage on comprehensive immigration reform is a great start. While Marco Rubio may or may not appeal to Hispanics outside Florida, prominent Southwestern Republicans—e.g. Sandoval, Martinez, and Cruz—are well positioned to bring diversity into the conservative electorate. I doubt embracing open borders would win the Latino vote for the GOP. However, many conservatively inclined Latino voters may be more receptive when not worrying, fairly or not, that “driving while brown” will warrant harassment under Republican governance.

The question of gays is about much more than 5% of the electorate. Young Americans, including many young Republicans, overwhelmingly understand that gay families are valid American families of people who just want to live their lives and participate in their communities like anyone else. We live in a world where voters in West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, and both Dakotas elected gay legislators at various levels of government and where Wisconsin sent the first openly gay U.S. Senator to Washington. (Did I mention that voters just approved gay marriage in three states and defeated a constitutional ban in another?)

Put bluntly, a movement identified with and defined by opposition to anti-bullying measures, anti-discrimination laws, gay couples adopting, and, yes, same-sex marriage, will bear witness to the leftward drift of millennials toward the political event horizon of liberalism—and the world will suffer accordingly. Fortunately, once these things are accomplished, they will cease to be issues, and gay families and the people who love them can focus on other things. In the meantime, for the good of the country and everybody who loves her, it’s time for opponents of gay rights to move on.

And so we come to abortion. Many millions of Americans, particularly among Republicans, identify as pro-life. There is nothing wrong with this. Indeed, I suspect we’re moving toward a national consensus on reasonable limits to abortion that vary somewhat by state. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock did not lose once safe GOP Senate seats because they were pro-life. They lost because they were inanely self-indulgent purists who found a mawkish virtue in needlessly alienating most of the electorate. In so doing, they have achieved nothing beyond setting back the causes of restricting abortion and promoting conservative government by feeding into a tendentious narrative of a conservative “war on women.”

You should not interpret any of this as a move to eject anyone from the coalition or spark a Republican civil war. The voices and contributions of social conservatives will remain prominent and valuable. The focus on family values translates into policies that aim to benefit communities, such as school choice and more local control of education. Upon the rock of piety conservatives build institutions that provide education and social services to millions. For the sake of stewardship, Republicans of all stripes devote their resources to sound fiscal policy and good governance. Concern for life promotes charity and community service that change lives around the world.

The Republican Party, like America, is designed for the inclusion of the big tent. Our core principles are not tied to race, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. They are divined from the foundation of a diverse republic whose self-understanding is rendered, “Out of Many, One”. As I’ve noted before, the Party of Frederick Douglass, Calvin Coolidge, Oscar de Priest, and Barry Goldwater will continue to produce and hone partisans of free enterprise and limited government for as long as the American people seek prosperity. And we will welcome all comers.

As a certain young Republican congressman and vice presidential hopeful once said:

“If you believe in freedom, liberty, self-determination, free enterprise, I don’t care if you’re a Muslim, Jewish, Agnostic, Christian, gay, straight, Latino, black, white, Irish, whatever. Join us.”

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Right Quick: Hurricane at the RNC

Akin, please. We’ve survived the Obama years. We can handle this.

So it seems increasingly probable that Hurricane Isaac will hit Tampa just in time for the Republican National Convention. Maybe the Universe is trying to tell us something. I always suspected Mother Nature was a Democrat. Or maybe she’s a Republican who just wants to remind us, just in time for the Convention, that the storm is almost over. In any case, we might as well have some fun with it.

Original Lyrics:

I hopped off the plane near Tampa Bay with a dream and a ticket for change

Welcome to a city run by Democrats—Whoa!—am I gotta fit in?

Jumped in the cab, here I am for the first time

Look to the Right, and I see the Romney-Ryan sign

This is all so crazy, everybody’s here to save the country

But Isaac’s turnin’ and we’re feelin’  kinda worried

Too little pressure and it’s stormin’

That’s when Christie gave his keynote speech

And the RNC was on

And the RNC was on

And the RNC was on

So I put my hands up, Isaac’s in town

The Republicans fly away

It’s crashin’ the party like Biden

Spinnin’ hot air like Biden

Got the waves up, bringin’ a storm

But we’re all gonna be okay

Yeeeeeah! Hurricane at the RNC!

Yeeeeeah! Still no hope left for the DNC!


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Right Quick: Rachel Mischief

I hate to pick on Rachel Maddow. Her ebullient, ostensibly serious charm makes intellectual laziness and systemic dishonesty look downright magical. I feel smarter and better about myself when watching her show, kind of how President Obama feels better about his campaign by pretending somebody else made all the negative stuff happen. And Maddow is so much fun! In my more liberal days, I even found her segments singularly compelling lights in the darkness.

I suspect this old affinity is the fount of my persistent addiction to her show. You see, I keep watching and hoping that, one day, she’ll experience an epiphany and become credibly inspiring, rather than gleefully disingenuous. A guy can dream, right?

With this happy thought in mind, I clicked on her latest link in my minifeed and discovered, to my horror, that Fox News was burying the Akin story! How unseemly! Brimming with outrage (or should I say, OUTRAGE!), I immediately went to foxnews.com to see what horribly biased front page they were pushing. I even took a screenshot. See for yourself:

Well, this is awkward. It’s almost like she was too lazy to actually check the site or something.

Wow, not only is the Akin story front page in all its nuance, but Fox News even featured a video on a gay man’s struggles with his homophobic father! The right-wing scoundrels. I guess Maddow’s real point is that the bloodshed in Syria clearly shouldn’t overshadow Todd Akin’s world-shatteringly important remarks. Thanks for alerting us to insidious media bias, Rachel! I, for one, will be more careful in the future.


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A Legitimate End

Image courtesy of 'Around the Wicket Gate' by C. H. Spurgeon

“You’re all alone in a parallel universe, dude. You can take off your tie.” –Dracopol

Let’s start with the obvious: Todd Akin is an idiot. Indeed, his contemptible asininity renders his presence on the House Science Committee at once bemusing and disturbing. So before I continue, let’s all have a hearty laugh at his expense. I’m glad we all agree that Todd Akin is not fit to represent anyone.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s deal with the Left. Predictably eager to avoid their failed policies, our liberal friends want to make Akin a general indictment of the Right. Sure, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have abandoned Akin to his madness. And yes, Ann Coulter called on him to make the sacrificial play for the good of the Party, with the editor-in-chief of RedState being far blunter about it. And ok, the leader of the Party, Mitt Romney, did not mince words in condemning the congressman and rebuking the policy of forcing a rape victim to give birth. But the Family Research Council defends Akin, right? Surely, they must speak for the conservative movement! (Spoiler: they don’t.)

The defenders of the president would have us believe this election should hinge on fringe social positions pushed by a conspiracy of monomaniacal extremists. So let me make this clear: I do not support Todd Akin. In case the preceding paragraph has not made this obvious: the Republican Party does not endorse his inanity. Are there conservatives in Congress who oppose abortion? Of course. Do some of them have uncomfortably hardline views on the issue? Definitely. But you need only look to the failed Personhood Amendment in Mississippi to see there are limits to how far the pro-life movement goes. And some Republicans, albeit a small minority, are still prochoice.

The GOP is a diverse party, and reasonable people can disagree about the extent to which abortion should be legal and available, and how federal law should differ from state law. But Todd Akin is not normal. He is an invidiously cruel joke told at our expense to confirm every liberal reduction of conservatism to pathology. For his complicity in this, Todd Akin deserves and will get no sympathy from the Right. Duly have we cast him out to beg his fortunes from the streets, and duly will we move on beyond him.

I trust Akin will meet a “legitimate” fate. As for you, Mr. President, onward to November.

Update: Rep. Akin is refusing to bow out gracefully and has released an ad seeking forgiveness. That might be an easier pill to swallow if he were not insisting he meant “forcible rape” instead of “legitimate rape”. As surprises nobody who is not Todd Akin, this “clarification” does not remotely reduce the mendacious idiocy of his original statement. “Forcible rape” is the source of many unintended pregnancies, and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. Mr. Akin, if you won’t take “No” for answer, then do us all the minimal kindness of caging your unrepentant hostility to truth and good decency.


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Right Quick: Enraged

If you’ve been on twitter in the last few hours or so, you’ve probably noticed some curious happenings. First off, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) got caught betraying an appallingly facile impression of female anatomy while discussing abortion. Why he was talking about anything other than the economy and his differences from incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is beyond me. Of course, that doesn’t make his opponent any better of a candidate, but let no one accuse me of unfair reporting. Akin subsequently clarified that he misspoke, after which he presumably expects everyone to forgive and forget his insultingly puerile ideas about rape. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, it seems #LegitmateRape started trending on Twitter, and a liberal friend tells me the DNC Court Jester Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wasted no time expressing her outrage through a fundraising email. And who can blame her? It’s not every day your political opponents fumble golden footballs at  the ten-yard line.

At some point afterward, for reasons largely unclear, #ThingsThatEnrageRepublicans and rival #ThingsThatEnrageDemocrats emerged. As I write this, the latter has been trending for several hours. The former has not. It would seem the conservative movement has much stronger modern appeal than some might think, Todd Akin’s machinations to the contrary notwithstanding.

If you’re feeling mischievous, witty, or simply need to vent, add your contribution. Mine is below: