Saturday, August 16, 2008

Because Waldo deserves an answer. . . .

. . . about my endorsement of Dr Eric Schansberg, Libertarian candidate for Congress in Indiana's 9th District. Dr Schansberg is an evangelical, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage Libertarian, leading Waldo to this conclusion about why the LGBTQ community doesn't flock to the LP:

I read Schansberg's personal blog- as if, somehow, he can compartmentalize his thinking between what he believes as a citizen and what he peddles to the public on his congressional blog. He's a mainstream homophobe....

If one of the Schansberg boys sits Mom and Congressman down one day in the future and says, "I'm gay," we can imagine what the reaction will be from the member of the Core Leadership Team for the Men’s Ministry at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville- and it won't be a Libertarian response.

Schansberg Libertarians are just a greedier version of everyday Libertarians. The everyday variety preach a vague sort of live and let live doctrine; the Schansbergers- like Dr. Paul- want maximum liberty for themselves. As for everyone else, the devil take the hindmost. If you weren't landed gentry who could write yourself into the Constitution in 1787, well fuck all....

The Delaware Libertarian rightly notes that neither he [Bob Barr, not Schansberg] nor the LP HQ give a tinker's damn about down- ticket races. Neither, it appears, do some of its down ticket candidates give a tinker's damn about Libertarianism, except as it appears to be a Schansbergian construct malleable enough to embrace just about any point of view that wants to run under the banner- in other words, to be just like the other big parties.

The Libertarians are at a crossroads: they need to decide if they want to be a party that truly values individual freedom, or a party that peddles itself to the highest bidder for a chunk of the Republican Party nut vote.

Gay rights is the Libertarian canary in the mineshaft. Without a serious commitment to that, they're just a fringe-y interstate rest stop for voters who find the GOP pick too soft on hard issues. In that world, anybody who polls credible numbers is someone to be treated seriously. Thus the evangelical Dr. Schansberg.


Some difficult truths:

1) There are pro-abortion and anti-abortion Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians. There are pro-gay rights and anti-gay rights Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. NARAL doesn't have a political party; nor do gay rights activists. I am only using two issues here (I could certainly include a number of other social issues, from immigration to racial profiling), and I am not directly paralleling the two, However, the point for me is that I'm not a single-issue voter and I'm not going to get everything I want in a candidate; which leads me to...

2) I dumped Bob Barr precisely because he refused to reverse his stand on DOMA completely (and yes, even if he had there were certainly credibility problems, but for the sake of argument let's say he was being honest) and is willing to allow States to discriminate against gays on marriage. Here's what I think you missed, Waldo: if there had been three candidates running with nearly identical positions on gay rights, then there wouldn't have been much point in making that the key issue upon which to base voting or not voting (unless i just want to stay home in November, and NOTA is looking better all the time). But in the Presidential race there IS a better choice on gay rights: Senator Barack Obama. The problem for me is this: he's also the candidate in my view most likely to continue an American imperialist foreign policy and the military/industrial complex dominance of our political system, which is another issue I feel just as strongly about. Which is, damnably, an issue on which Barr has been far superior. (Notice that Uncle Grumpy doesn't make the cut on either set of issues.) But the fact that there is someone actually pro-gay rights in the race is enough to make me drop Barr if not quite enough to make me go with Obama....

3) Which brings me to the 9th Congressional District in Indiana. Let's look at the options: Republican Mike Sodrel is a social cultural conservative with a capital Fascist, and if gay American citizens were former slaves after the Civil War he'd have been ready to ship them back to Africa. Democrat Baron Hill speaks out of all three sides of his mouth on the issue, and when you come right down to it he has the same position that I dumped Bob Barr for, although he carefully makes sure none of that appears on his website. I don't have any illusions, either, that Eric Schansberg has a strong, religious-based opposition to gay marriage (and the whole panoply of issues attendant thereupon), but it's not like there is anyone with a pro-gay rights stance in that district to vote for, now is it?

4) I think you give him the bum's rush with this comment:

If one of the Schansberg boys sits Mom and Congressman down one day in the future and says, "I'm gay," we can imagine what the reaction will be from the member of the Core Leadership Team for the Men’s Ministry at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville- and it won't be a Libertarian response.


Why? Because I look at Dr Schansberg's family and I note that in part it has been built through trans-racial adoption. That's a process about which I know something, and a process that invariably challenges one's core values in all sorts of unexpected ways as children grow up. That also suggests to me a parent who spends a good deal more time thinking about his children as people than as complexes of behaviors or reflections of his own personal prejudices. You may disagree; you probably do. But in a race where there is not a good choice on the gay rights issue or the abortion issue or the immigration issue, I am willing to say I'd be more comfortable with this particular evangelical Christian in Congress than either of his opponents.

Eric knows I disagree with him on these issues, and my hope is that in the future we'll be able to talk about them, and that he will be able as a potential legislator to distinguish between his personal religious beliefs and his obligations to the civil rights and due process rights that should be accorded to all American citizens. But even as a member of my own party, he'll have to continue to earn my support one election at a time....

5) And as for the Libertarian Party? I think gay rights is a fundamental precept of Libertarianism. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Libertarians who think asking for gay marriage is a sell-out to their position that the State shouldn't have a damn thing to do with marriage in the first place, and a sell-out to the concept of group rights over individual rights. The same is true on abortion, on immigration, or racial profiling....

I will always support Libertarians first and foremost who support gay rights, and I have been among the first to condemn our nutcases like Kevin Craig who run on a platform of God hates homosexuals. But even if I get to run the zoo in some bizarre alternate reality I'm not going to make lock-step agreement with my position on gay rights, abortion rights, immigrant rights, or any rights a litmus test for membership.

I happen to believe (and I'm trying to test that belief) that in a social sense a Libertarian Party separate from the Republican Party and large enough to move beyond paper candidates into actually winning elections will be a greater force for individual freedom (in my mind high on that list is gay rights) than either the Democrats or the Republicans in the current two-party circus. Maybe we'll achieve that by forcing the Dems to go more left libertarian on social issues, I'm not sure.

But I do know this: in order to bring change to the system that hasn't really been moving too rapidly toward your desire on gay rights to date, allowing the Demopublicans to keep their monopoly on political representation is simply not a good strategy (as if anybody pays attention to me, anyway).

That's why I'm supporting the openly gay Chris Cole for Senate in North Carolina and the openly evangelical Eric Schansberg for Congress in Indiana (both of whom read this blog and both of whom are invited to comment on what I've said here at any time).

1 comment:

ChrisNC said...

Since Steve explicitly invited me to comment, I will. As an openly-gay Libertarian, I expect equal treatment under the law. I am not a Democrat because I repudiate any right to another person's property (except by gift or contract, of course), whether or not I am a member of some "protected class". To be consistent, I must also expect the rights of others to be respected, including the freedoms of speech, religion, and association, even when those rights involve a person's hatred of me (which is not to say that is Eric's situation). Judging just from Steve's remarks (I didn't go on to read Eric's website), Eric has a proper understanding of the difference between what he can advocate as an individual, and what he could do through coercion as a government official. I feel the same way about illicit drugs: I HATE drugs, and don't like to be around drugusers, but I vehemently support their right to make that choice for themselves. Given that, I think Steve's advocacy is proper and on-target.