Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Queer Eye for the Majority Leader?

So, with DeLay headed either for the slammer or political obscurity, eyes turn to his heir apparent. David Dreier is getting mention as being expected to "temporarily succeed" (I'm not sure that what means, but ok) DeLay, and the topic of Mr. Dreier's sexuality is part & parcel to the chatter.

In keeping with the GOP platform, he's evidently voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, but conversely, has voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. His voting record on other issues is out there if you're curious, but my point here is this:

While I've no problem with people pointing out the outward hypocrisy of a gay man voting against gay marriage, I can't help but wonder if it's primarily a reflexive criticism. Some gay people have told me that legalized gay marriage is irrelevant to them, just as some women have told me they don't support the ERA.

Debates about cognitive dissonance aside, if we assume political positions based on lifestyle choices, aren't we just as bad as the right wing freaks that insist all gays are boa-wearing drag-queens? That all people who support choice are just too lazy to use birth control? That all environmentalists are Marxists? And if we are just as bad, then isn't there something hypocritical in calling Dreier a hypocrite?

In the end, I'll be more curious to know Dreier's reasoning for supporting DOMA (not that I'm apt to endorse any such reasoning, trapped as I am in my own bias on the subject). If his position isn't completely at odds with his personal view of the issue, then I don't know that it's grounds to vilify him or work hard to "out him" in the national press. I've never warmed to stories about "Hey! Guess what? So & so is GAY!" since I fundamentally don't think it's pertinent to anything outside of one's personal life. Predispositions may tend to exist, but it strikes me as sophomoric to expect that every homosexual is a Democrat. The Log Cabin Republicans have disproved that quite aptly by now.

If, however, his personal view and his party view are opposites, then yeah, I'll have to stand with the town criers on this one and holler "hypocrite!". I tend to cut people a lot of slack, even when I don't agree with them, provided there's some degree of logical consistency in their positions. But if their positions are weak and their reasoning flawed, they're fair game. Have at 'em.

Is Dreier one of these people? I don't know enough about the man. We've got some California readers here. Perhaps you can shine some light on this one.
Hat tip to The Raw Story

18 comments:

Lily said...

Man, Bitch, I knew you'd get this one going and I have no doubt you will get some weird logic leap frog.
I have to ask when I am lucky enough to encounter a log cabin republican. Its rare, its like encountering somebody from the arctic and even though you know you sound stupid- you ask...isn't it cold???
Ditto for LCR. I have to ask.. but...how do you piece these little logic rags together? With what sort of glue?
They are often business people, with interests very much rooted in financials. They are also perhaps gay, but do not see that necessarily as a top political topic.
I can be a person who thinks government has little role pretty much beyond defense and financial oversight and think they have no business in matters of social institutions at all. I can say that state government more closely represents the will of the people and that the federal government should not concern itself with marriage or sexuality. I would then say that less government and regulation is a supposedly republican theme and therefore logically conclude that this party represents the position closest to my own on a top three importance basis. if I care more about my tax burden than my sexuality, I will likely overlook huge contradictions in exchange for what I deem paramount.
The trouble is that presently Republicans are not the party of less government, less spending. They are not the party of state sovereignty as shown by this effort to amend the constitution. Further, they are the party that deregulates on safety and public health- main stages for the feds, and seek to over regulate in social and religious "moral" domains where they do not belong.
I can therefore understand a gay republican based on republicans in theory. But not based on republicans in practice. Thoughts?

Meteor Blades said...

Six weeks ago, I decided my anti-GOP target this election cycle would be David Dreier. He's not in my district - which is 65% blue, but his is only a mile away. I first encountered him in 1988 and was lucky enough to be able to write the Los Angeles Herald Examiner's endorsement editorial for his opponent that year. But I wasn't lucky enough to see my choice win.

I'm of mixed feelings on the outing of hypocritical closeted gays. The fact that they vote for laws that hurt other gays even though they are gay is a bitter pill, to be sure. But it so often plays into the strategy of the rightwingholes who wish to take back the limited rights gains gays have already obtained in this country. This is especially so when, as just happened on Daily Kos, the front page post mentions the alleged gayness of the target in the first paragraph. That, it seems to me, feeds more homophobia than do the votes of the hypocrite being outed.

In the case of Dreier, of course, it's not news in wwwWorld that he's most probably gay, so one could argue that he's already been outed, so what's the harm? My response to that is: if he's already outed, why is it necessary to remind everyone?

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Lily,
I think a great many registered Republicans are caught between the ideals that prompted their party affiliations to begin with, and the policies of the current Republicans. The past year or two must have been particularly tough on them, what with the profound disconnect between what Republicanism has historically stood for and how BushCo has been steering the party.
My sympathy, however, will be extremely short lived if the rank & file continues to turn a blind eye to the uncontrolled corruption and incompetence of their chosen leaders.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

MB,
Why is it necessary, indeed. I find it bizarre that some of the most vocal champions of the left condemn the right for using gay issues as a means of divisiveness, but then turn around and effectively do the same thing. It's as if there's so much concern that the RW pundits will scold us for everything we fail to mention that we dig up a host of non-issues in an attempt to beat them to it and deflate their rhetoric prophylatically. Does that make sense? It's hard to articulate this morning...

Lily said...

First-YES it does make sense prophylactically as a strategy in many contexts, because there are camps who would say that if you get it out there in a controlled way, it is much easier to control/assess both the damage and the spin. There is also that 'reclaiming" aspect- "I won't let 'them' define me" "I will call myself queer to take the labeI's power away from you" I will come out and state it my way and let people respond, as opposed to waiting and watching for the issue or concern to emerge and then doing massive damage control. IMO, CONTROL is the name of the game.
I guess what irks us about hypocrisy in any group is that it is indeed a bitter pill and we tend to expect more from those in influential positions, we often look to them to crusade on behalf of others, forgetting that a person is way more than their sexual identity, race, gender, whatever. We assume their personal life trumps their realistic political and power aspirations. In many cases, to be an openly gay person in republican politics amounts to suicide. Or they must demonstrate that they go with 'party lines' and stick to the platform regardles of personal life issues. MANY repubs stick to the script, representing their party, not their constituents.
There are those who remain silent in any demographic. There are elderly people who vote for candidates that oppose real prescription benefit programs. There are sick people that oppose universal health care, single women that vote for things that hurt women like cuts to head start and mammography...there are students that don't rally against censorship in higher ed...we could go on all day.
I think its time we stopped having such high standards for certain groups, and perhaps cut them some slack sometimes????

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the "they" to which you refer, but I don't know about cutting them more slack. I mean, if the very groups that are disadvantaged / disenfranchized / victimized (pick your verb) by policy don't speak up on their own behalf, is it reasonable to expect that anyone else will?

Lily said...

Is it reasonable to assume that a group that spends their lives oppressed by a power structure would feel empowered to speak out? Thats unreasonable. Power is relative, and those with it cannot readily understand the limitations of those that do not.The dynamics you refer to are far less simple than that, CB.
In a nutshell: I disagree with you.
If a handicapped woman has her purse stolen in central park, would you think it reasonable for her to expect the police to help her, or onlookers? Or would you suggest that she at least attempt the semblance of chase to earn the right to help? Would you say "Well, with all due respect, if you don't run after your own purse, why should I? What do I have to gain? YOU are the one who will suffer without it."
it is a matter of perspective and perhaps a spiritual or emotional leap to find oneself indebted to this woman regardless of her efforts or 'worthiness".
I say its reasonable to expect others to speak up when we cannot because clearly, reason tells me that if they could, they would. If they believed themselves able or safe, many would. IF they beleived themselves to be a part of the oppressed group on a conscious level- they might.
Its a stupid analogy I know, but the dynamics of "why don't oppressed people rally for their own lot" is a historically difficult question to discuss. The question of if not them, who?" is best answered by your sense of society and its aims.
There are those that would say it is their obligation to chase the purse snatcher. Some would say "shit, better her than me!!!"
Some say that people stuck in New Orleans should have gotten their asses out. Some say if government and society does nothing for those who suffer silently- what the fuck good are they?

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Lily,
I’m not sure I’m following you clearly, and worry that perhaps you misunderstand me. I've made no requirement of lobbying on one's own behalf some kind of prerequisite for broad public support. That's not what exactly I was driving at.
Further, (not to nitpick over an analogy that you concede is flawed), but in the case of gay rights, we’re not talking about a group that’s lacking empowerment are we? Hasn’t there been a fairly concerted effort toward reclamation of power over the past few decades? Isn’t that part of what’s behind the efforts to legalize gay marriage?
Also, in this example, we’re not talking about people that can’t speak up for themselves. (see ACT, PFLAG & the like).
Perhaps this is an area in which I’m outside the realm of typical liberalism (and there are a few, I’ll grant). I think that all of us are obligated to speak up, whatever our respective issues and causes, and this obligation doesn’t fall into the “high standards” column for me. Expecting others to do so in the face of our own silence (or complicity) comes dangerously close to the kind of paternalism I despise in both parties -- the kind of thinking that claims to "know best" and aims to create policy on that presumption, rather than based on the feedback of those actually affected by that policy. Naturally, there are exceptions to the rule (I wouldn’t expect to consult a 5 year old on child labor laws), but I suspect there are few.
Let me draw another example -- I support gay rights because the overwhelming majority of my gay friends and acquaintances demand them. If instead, they were collectively ambivalent on the question, I'd still protest the institutionalized bigotry against them, (since I abhor institutionalized bigotry irrespective of the target) but the degree and focus of my efforts would be tempered by what the gay community wants (or doesn’t), as they’ve declared it.
Perhaps my trouble here is in imagining any group in America that is so presently oppressed as to have no political voice whatsoever (deliberately distinguishing between political voice and political power). As such, your analogy appears to lack a functional pragmatism. What am I not considering?

Lily said...

It was simply the 'if you don't speak up, why would anyone else" aspect. I think you said more to support my point than to reject it. But I was simply making the distinction that the last line was not really reflective of the view some take on this. Incuding me. Do I need great writing skills to believe that? nope.
I realize that you are more 'middle" probably than I am. And I don't favor "speak for me without me" politics. But I do not support "put up or shut up" politics either.
But the purpose of the analogy was to simplify- not to exactly represent facts in all possible scenarios. I did point out it was flawed but chose it carefully because it was a simple example that illustrates the roles. I think the roles are important, particularly what you call the paternal role.
You cannot picture groups in America that are so repressed as to have no voice? I can. Some have voices that are very theoretical, too, but don't speak to the real is
Policy is not all about the victim or the oppressed group either. There are other stakeholders, and other groups involved in most circumstances. So it is not a case of speaking for what 'others' need necessarily. The policies that apply exclusively to one group to legislate behaviors or rights are often not appropriate in the first place, as in the case of singling out gay individuals and marriage. That is institutionalized bigotry and we speak out even if gay people say nothing because bigotry impacts everyone. Thats the point, social policies impact a range of people, from the taxpayer to the business to the consumer of a social service.
I don't think the statement is correct for gay people OR other people. I would still say that gay people have rights even if none ever uttered a word, even if they were not as empowered as you claim... the crux of your comment was that a person who cannot speak up for themselves has no right to expect it from others and I just disagree- whether with flair and finesse or half assed. Don't matter to this broad.
We are not discussing whether the gay community is empowered or not. Certainly progress has been made and many people have worked very hard. But I still know gay people that are terrified to speak up as well. There are places in the world where one can be killed for being gay or for having premarital sex. There are places in the world where 13 year olds are ritually raped and given HIV. The idea that oppression has been eradicated is a false American notion.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

"the crux of your comment was that a person who cannot speak up for themselves has no right to expect it from others"

For my lack of clarity, you have my apology, but that was not at all what I was saying. The insertion of "cannot speak" were your words, not my premise. You first suggested that "high standards" might be in place for those that (tacitly) support policies that disadvantage them:

There are those who remain silent in any demographic. There are elderly people who vote for candidates that oppose real prescription benefit programs. There are sick people that oppose universal health care, single women that vote for things that hurt women like cuts to head start and mammography...there are students that don't rally against censorship in higher ed...we could go on all day.
I think its time we stopped having such high standards for certain groups, and perhaps cut them some slack sometimes????"


If they don't protest (when they are, in fact, able to), particularly on the grounds that others will take up their cause, that's a foolish approach, and IMO, is what I see as an abdication of responsibility.

Eligible voters in this country have an obligation to speak, write, and vote in favor of whatever causes they champion. My point earlier was, that if a citizen rejects those obligations (i.e. declines to participate in the democratic process), then how could they reasonably expect someone else to do it for them?

Further, my comments pertained to American politics, not the countries you imply toward the end of your last. What I'm wondering is what groups, in America, have no political voice whatsoever that would be effectively silenced by this assertion? I don't ask to antagonize.

Renee said...

Dreier is simply playing both sides of the fence. He's gay when it's convenient and votes Republican when it suits him. I believe he is more beholden to the Republican party than his own gay community, and as such, feels he "owes" the GOP and votes as asked.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

You're probably right, Renee. As it turns out, though, he gets to avoid the spotlight. Blunt's at the head of the shitheap now apparently.

Lily said...

I think many people play both sides. Even in local, small town things.I think what is called collaboration is often a big group ass kissing.
I think we also see this in the environmental arena- this idea that we can easily count on environmentalist group support for things that are only marginally in alignment with environmental causes- they use the 'take what you can get' angle to split and get people behind -muttering "well, beter than nothing..."
They are political when it suits them, and try to be 'green' when it suits them. I think thats politics. Sad that private groups are playing the game as well!

Lily said...

Regarding your comments, bitch- I hear you. I certainly think we both clarified our statements in this process. As far as groups that are disenfranchised IN AMERICA, I think immigrants are one group. Now you could say well, who told them to come here and that does not count. I think certain economic refugees are pretty voiceless. Single mothers. Who really speaks up for mothers with real tangible results? There are those who speak up for a single mother's right to abortion or to be involved in education. But poor and minority single mothers have few people on their side and when they do they are offset by the scores of groups that demonize them. They deal with bureaucracies that seem least able to handle a mother guestlist.
Is it a matter of degree, the more groups that champion you, the more we think you are capable of self advocacy? Certainly the individual does not often base their personal empowerment on a tally of groups. Women often feel voiceless and although there are many 'feminist' or women's groups, they often focus on ISSUES like choice or children's education. Not all women are represented by such banners, just like not all gay people are represented by their banners, same with the disabled... A plethora of groups does not mean a voice- especially given that people who are marginalized often do not align with the groups supposedly acting on their behalf anyway. Thats a whole other subject- but simply, there is the sociological phenomenon of the oppressed reality, where an oppressed group takes on characteristics of the powerful group, having internalized the judgements of the powerful group and in turn projects it upon their own community. They try to grab at indicators and things that align them to the group that marginalizes them in the first place.The concept of 'foresaking one's own".
This gets into why some groups become label or brand conscious, or why women think that empowerment means acting masculine. It plays out in gender roles where people think they must duplicate heterosexual gender roles,when of course that is something imposed and not necessarily innate. (any gay woman ever asked if she is a butch or a femme knows what I mean by this, as though she is relegated to one or the other in a relationship!!) It plays out in oppressed groups voting for those who do not care about their interests...
Bitch, I voted. But I did not feel that most of the people on there represented ME or anything about me. My vote was a civil exercise, at best.

Lily said...

Now I am beating a dead horse, but after just having a discussion this evening about him- I had the big failure of our conversation thrown in my face. He said: "Excuse me, but should you not be suggesting elected officals represent their constituents- not themselves or their personal views, be them gay, straight, or otherwise? We are so accustomed to thinking in terms of the politician and their views...when we should be working toward addressing the disconnect between constituents and those that serve their interests. if a majority of constuents feel a certain way, sexuality is truly irrelevant, as are comments on hypocrisy"
Well that really made me take pause- it offers perhaps a far simpler and better case for why it is conceivable to vote as one does despite personal circumstances. Because they serve the will of the people... hmmm forgot that little aspect of alleged representative democracy... we expect leaders we elect to echo US. Not their singular view.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Of course an elected official's primary responsibility is to the constituency, not their personal views. However, when a candidate aligns him/herself with a party that is actively seeking to undermine what is presumably, part of a candidate's core identity, then I think the question of hypocrisy is a fair one, at least rhetorically.

For example, if I were a candidate that resolutely believed that the state bears absolutely no responsiblity to provide welfare systems of any kind, then why on earth would I run as a Democrat? Or if I felt that a corporation's sole responsibility is to its shareholders, why would I run on the Green ticket?

It's these fundamental affiliations that give me pause to wonder, and is what promotes collective head-scratching when we consider folks like Dreier.

That said, given the limitations of a two-party system, I suppose all any of us can do is tally up our priorities and align ourselves with whichever party shares the bulk of them. Most of the folks I know (myself included) have chosen a party by this method, as unanimous agreement with platform seems to happen for only a small percentage of us.

But it's the prioritizing that baffles me. How anyone can add up a list of Things That Matter and assign their right to family & relationship such a low rank is what I don't understand. It's at that point that phrases like "sell-out" spring to mind and I find myself mulling over "hypocrisy" and all that it entails....

Lily said...

Do you scratch your head though when parents-a role I consider the crux of my identity at least and MUCH more so than sexuality- (not an easy thing to pigeonhole for people, either) do you scratch your head when parents run for office aligned with parties that undermine child welfare? That allow for loose regulation of food, medicine, consumer safety, and pollution? That are beholden to special interest groups that would have our children brainwashed by education rather than treat them as deserving recipients of knowledge? Women that support misogynist policies and practices, grandparents in Congress that don't give one iota of a shit what happens to the planet inhabited by their cute grandchildren?
Why so harsh with HIM, was my question, I am not questioning 'pick the platform based on my checklist' type thinking. I question hypocrisy about hypocrisy, I suppose! And that- coupled with a limited view of the gay spectrum- led to my questions.
I can see why you and others cry foul and bandy words like hypocrisy- but I am simply trying to make the case that gay people are not the only ones whose politics are AT TIMES at odds with what you call aspects of core identity. Why are their feet held to the fire on social issues, because of being gay? Do we question Santorum as a father? A person who 'oughtta know better" than to undermine his core identity? Scratch your head at him, I say. And scores of lawmakers like him. There are people WITH power that do nothing to promote issues reflective of their PERCEIVED core identities.
Both Dems and Republicans undermine the well being of children and undermine the autonomy and machinery supporting the caregivers that raise them.
On selling out, he joins the ranks of some of the best.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

I won't speak for anyone but myself, but no, I don't hold politicians responsible for X at the exclusion of all else, which is what you seem to be inferring? That the question comes up now (Drier and his sexuality, in this example) is reflective of current activity and press coverage, and not a function of which issue is "more important" than another.
As for being at odds with any number of things, yes, my personal laundry list of objections to what politicians ignore is long and exhaustive. Failure to mention them all in this particular thread should not be interpreted as an absence of faults found...