Yesterday on MSNBC there was a fascinating conversation that started with a discussion about growing Republican support for civil marriage for gay couples. I first learned about the segment because my friends on Twitter told me that I was mentioned in it. I looked up the video to see what they said about me, and I was surprised at something that began at about the 11-minute mark. The conversation turned away from marriage equality to Melissa Harris-Perry’s fears and anxiety about the future of the coalition of the left. She expressed her worry that if liberals work with conservatives to legalize civil marriage for gay couples, then conservatives may get the credit and the gay constituency of the left would no longer be part of their coalition. That would weaken their political power and put all their other priories in jeopardy.
You see, there is a big difference between the coalitions on the right and the left – BIG difference. On the right, we are brought together by common principles and a common vision of government. True, there are times when we disagree on how to apply those shared principles, but generally conservatives support free-market based policies, limited government, an engaged foreign policy, and traditional values. Liberals are different. The left is made up of a series of trades by different constituencies. The unions will support the gays if the gays support the unions, the immigration people support the abortion people who support the gun-control people…etc….it’s all held together by trading support for each constituency’s priorities.
What Harris-Perry is afraid of is that if liberals and conservatives work together to achieve marriage equality, then two things may happen. First, conservatives may end up getting some of the credit and earn respect in the gay community. More importantly, if the gay’s number one priority is off the table, then they would be free to think for themselves and support policies regardless of what other constituencies think. She’s afraid that the gays may start to support conservative policies and Republican candidates. The left counts on gay votes, and gay money is the fuel that enables their coalition to win elections.
The left has to keep their traditional constituencies engaged so that they can maintain their political power, so sometimes they even have to manufacture issues and outrage to keep those constituencies committed. That’s why they’ve made the Treyvon Martin case about race, even though the evidence showed that race was not a motivating factor for George Zimmerman. That’s why Harris-Perry donned the now famous tampon earrings to get liberal women more energized in their opposition to even reasonable regulation of abortion, a surgical procedure.
Harris-Perry voiced what a lot of liberals have been afraid of for a long time. Once the gays get marriage, and if it’s with conservatives’ help, then the coalition of the left is in danger of losing a key constituency and that could put all of their other policy priorities in jeopardy.
Watch the whole video here –
My advice to Republicans is – support marriage equality and let’s chip away at the left’s coalition.