The Republican Party is in trouble and LGBT people will continue to be targeted as symbolic sufferers for it. As argued here in March (“Why ‘God, Guns and Gays’ Is Still Working”), no matter how the country is going in a more accepting direction, the right-wing is going to use discrimination as long as it works to rile up the funders and voters that make up their base.
It doesn’t conform to the Republican gay group’s, the Log Cabin Republicans,’ ongoing fantasies about the Party and its presidential nominee treating LGBT people as equal human beings. Instead it provides the Log Cabiners with what they value more - the comfort of continuing their economically privileged status.
So these gay loyalists must watch as their beloved Party continually rejects them in front of the world. Tellingly, in June it approved what even the Log Cabiners call “the most anti-LGBT platform in the Party’s 162-year history.”
In an e-mail from Log Cabin President Gregory T. Angelo, he explained - as if shocked that Republicans would do this: “Opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of “pray the gay away - it’s all in there.”
Angelo frames his surprise in terms of his dreamy keep-hope-alive belief that Trump will reject the platform’s anti-LGBT positions and thereby threaten the support from Trump’s radical right-wing base. Meanwhile, the evidence is that Trump will publicly throw anyone under the bus for his ego, including LGBT people. He has surrounded himself with LGBT-haters and told the Christian Broadcasting Network in February: “Trust Me” to overturn the “shocking” and “massive” gay marriage decision.
Angelo is willing to accept such public abuse from his candidate and party, even to deny that anyone means it. He does so even in his criticism of the Republicans’ official rejection of people Angelo claims to represent –
“This isn’t my GOP, and I know it’s not yours either. Heck, it’s not even Donald Trump’s! When given a chance to follow the lead of our presumptive presidential nominee and reach out to the LGBT community in the wake of the awful terrorist massacre in Orlando on the gay nightclub Pulse, the Platform Committee said NO.”
Denial and fantasies aside, the Republicans have staked out their political positions in 2016. They now stand not only for passing a constitutional amendment - the First Amendment Defense Act - to guarantee “religious freedom” to discriminate against LGBT people, but affirmed that children raised in straight (“traditional”) families are “physically and emotionally healthier” than those raised by single or same-sex parents, supported anti-LGBT brainwashing (“conversion therapy”), opposed the new guidelines allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their identity, approved the teaching of the Bible as history in schools, called for banning same-sex marriage, and defined marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.
There’s more, and all of this is easily dismissed as if it’s the ravings of lunatics or people out of touch with where the nation is heading. And that would be partially correct.
But it’s also Republican operatives’ belief that this will still work in the political arena. It does not, after all, have to work with the majority, only the majority of the social conservatives who’ll turn out and vote on the basis of these matters.
And it does not ultimately even have to get the Republicans the presidency. In reality, Republicans seem to have given up on ever getting the White House back. Many realize the demographic changes that make a party of older white people less popular on a national level.
All the establishment Republicans’ national political moves now have as their intention is what they believe will secure for them the most effective means of maintaining real power. How, they’re plotting, can they maintain the economic strata that benefits them?
On the federal level, that means holding on to at least one of the houses of Congress. While Democratic bases turn out in droves for presidential elections, Republicans are counting on these same groups staying home for the next four years.
If they can convince the Democratic bases that elections and political parties don’t matter, if they can raise cynicism and hopelessness in liberals, if they can keep liberals divided without working in solidarity, focused only on single issues rather than on the broad spectrum of political connections, Republicans believe they can maintain the seats of power they need.
So, if they can use one house to prevent progressive change, they need to accomplish little federally themselves, given what they have in place already. And since they believe that what they want to do takes place in statehouses around the country, they can focus on down ballot races.
So, though Donald Trump’s con on America seems to have set Republicans back, Republican attention is focused on these other races. The immediate goal of the Republican establishment is to keep Trump’s reality show from destroying the rest of the Party.
The Republicans’ most powerful elected official, House Speaker Paul Ryan seems to be setting his sights beyond Trump, cleaning up any messes Trump’s candidacy makes, and promoting the post-Trump successes. Ryan’s tepid support for Trump is really looking beyond the loss to keeping the traditional Republican bases in the Party.
In the meantime, LGBT people must continue to hear the rhetoric, and economically right-wing gays must try to figure out how to relate to it. Everyone must decide whether loyalty to a political party is more important than other concerns.
Since the Republicans have over and over told LGBT people that they don’t want them or their public support because the religious right-wing is more important, to continue in denial in the fantasy that it will be different any minute is to tell us that they love their money over their identity.
And since the Republicans have publicly told the Log Cabiners over and over to leave them alone, one wonders if the Log Cabiners’ continual dogging of the Party can constitute a case for the Party to get a restraining order to prevent stalking. l