With the Tea Party and the Christian Right rapidly losing ground in public opinion, Republican Politicians have a fine line to walk in motivating an important element of their base without alienating the middle. But when prominent politicians, for political purposes, lend their support to a summit backed by entities whose lies and language foster hate crimes against a segment of our citizenry, it is time to call them out. By their stature and mere presence, these politicians have given sanction to bigotry and assistance to persecution thus betraying their duty in governance. And for what purpose? Look no further than the cause of the anger fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is time we stop the manipulation of bigotry and fear for financial and political gain.
Republican politicians catering to the Tea Party and the Religious Right, intersecting entities, have a fine line to walk. With research showing that Tea Party supporters tended to be highly partisan Republicans well before there ever was a Tea Party (ref), this group represents an important part the Republican base, a base that Republican politicians need to keep energized and motivated. However, on the other side of the coin, the Tea Party is rapidly losing ground in the world of public opinion (ref). Polling this past summer showed that over a 14 month period public opposition to the Tea Party more than doubled from 18% to 40%. Additionally, research on national political attitudes showed that out of 24 groups and individuals, the Tea Party finished dead last (24th) with Sarah Palin, the outspoken Tea Party advocate, finishing right behind at 23rd (ref). The Tea Party finished lower in public opinion than much maligned groups such as Muslims (20th) and Gays (17th). Additionally, as the above cited research also showed that (other being a Republican) the strongest predictor of becoming a Tea Party supporter was a desire to see greater involvement of religion in politics, it is not surprising that the Christian Right also scored well down in public opinion (21st).
So, there lies the dilemma for Republican politicians; how to energize an important part of their base without alienating/offending the middle (what they need to win elections). And, as just occurred this weekend, some of this activity is kept a bit under the radar.
This weekend an event took place in Washington, D.C. called the Values Voter Summit (ref). Unless one follows civil rights matters, one would know little of the groups that sponsored the event: the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA). The event was attended by the ‘who’s who’ of the Republican Party (list of political participants will follow).
Both groups have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as Hate Groups, not because of religious beliefs but because of their continuing use of hate language, discredited research, and malicious falsehoods that demonize the LGBT community. Claims made by these groups include such things as gay rights advocates want to “recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order”; that gays orchestrated the Holocaust and were responsible for the killing of 6 million Jews; and that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured. Should you wish to see the nature of information issued by these groups I provide the link to an advertisement placed by SPLC in the Washington Post that provides both statements and references (ref). Should one wish to review the top 10 Anti-Gay Myths and how they have been debunked, you can find them at this link (ref).
The problem with the language and falsehoods these groups issue is that it reinforces bigotry and hatred thus contributing to hate crimes. Analysis of FBI data has shown that homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crimes (ref).
The LGBT community are citizens of the United States and are thus entitled to protection against bigotry, hatred, bullying that leads to suicide of our youth, and assault. As cited in a previous article (ref), our first president issued the following words, “…the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance…” (ref). Regrettably, the prominent politicians who participated in this event, by their stature and mere presence, have given sanction to bigotry and assistance to persecution for their own political purpose. And what purpose? One need look no further than the cause of the anger behind Occupy Wall Street movement to understand that. So the time has come to stop this manipulation of bigotry and hatred for political and financial gain. Until we call this out, that Party will continue to manipulate this part of its base to carry out its agenda.
It is time to bring these prominent politicians ‘out of the closet’ so to speak. The intent of the Washington Post ad placed by SPLC was to get public officials to think twice before lending their names to groups like FRC and AHA again. However, the ad failed to mention these politicians by name; they were essentially given a bye with the public. I will provide those names here as well as the link that identifies all confirmed participants (ref). My belief is that these individuals need to explain to the other 70% of America their participation in a summit backed by groups whose language fosters violent crimes against a segment of our citizenry.
Over ten years ago one of our sons almost lost his life during a vicious after-hours assault near his college campus. The assailants were sent to prison. One of the assailants during the criminal trial claimed he wasn’t directly involved. The district attorney issued the following statement: “If you run with the pack, you are responsible for the kill”.
Confirmed Speakers (Politicians)
John Boehner (R-OH) – House Speaker
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) – House Majority Leader
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) – Presidential Candidate
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY)
Herman Cain – Presidential Candidate
Newt Gingrich – Former Speaker of the House and Presidential Candidate
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) – Presidential Candidate
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Presidential Candidate
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
Mitt Romney – Former MA Governor and Presidential Candidate
Rick Santorum (R-PA) – Former US Senator
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Former Rep Linda Smith (R-WA)