Via the L.A. Times: “Voters in Colorado and Washington easily passed ballot initiatives — 55% to 45% in each state — to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana. … What transpired in Colorado and Washington were disciplined efforts that forged alliances between liberals and tea party conservatives, often using public health arguments to advance their cause.”
In those states, drug legalization activists recognized that small government (or even anti-government) tea party activists could be allies in seeking to protect individual liberty against an overreaching state, even in areas in which the government has been overreaching for decades.
We don’t see this tactic in the fight for marriage equality, however. One reason is that the government power issue is not as clear cut – we want to stop the federal government from telling states they can’t recognize same-sex marriages, and from actively discriminating against same-sex couples. On the other hand, some gay marriage advocates clearly would like the federal government to tell states they must recognize same-sex marriage, which may be defensible as a civil rights matter but is less likely to resonate among tea party conservatives.
Still, I and others of a libertarian bent have long sought more dialogue among tea party people and the gay-equality movement. A big reason that this has not occurred is that many progressive LGBT activists have joined with their compatriots on the left in thoroughly demonizing tea party types and conflating them with the religious right (of which there is some overlap, but not nearly to the extent that progressives have portrayed). In other words, if your political agenda as an LGBT activist is bigger and more intrusive government, economic redistribution to favored political classes, and higher taxes on wealth producers (that is, the Tammy Baldwin/Elizabeth Warren dream world), then seeking to work with libertarians in the tea party movement is going to be a non-starter from the get go.
More. Have tea party voters helped elect anti-gay religious rightists? Yes, but that’s not to say that they voted for them because of their socially conservative positions; they often seem to do so despite those positions because they see the conservatives as better on economic liberty, size-of-government issues. The current left/right partisan divide doesn’t present a clear pro-liberty option, forcing supporters of limited government to pick their poison.
Furthermore. Former Clinton advisor David Mixner, citing analysis by the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson, notes that Republican crossover votes were a key factor in the Maryland gay marriage victory, and that “in some very key counties it was clear that those who voted for Mitt Romney overwhelmingly also ended up supporting marriage equality.”
Progress is possible when Repubicans aren’t simply written off. But that requires gay alliances to break free from the control of Democratic party operatives whose goal is to turn them into party front (and fundraising) groups.
A GOP strategist asks, “Why should we sign a suicide pact with the National Organization for Marriage?”
Previous post: The GOP Needs to Change; Is now More/Less Likely to Do So
Next post: Twixt Left and Right