I realize that I am tiptoeing around the edge of the blogosphere rumor mill, but I want to comment on the much-discussed Los Angeles Times piece by Johanna Neuman about those terrible Religious Right people seeking a "Pink Purge" of gay staff members in strategic Republican offices. As I read the story, I was reminded of two realities of life here inside the Beltway.
The first is this: Washington, D.C., is a town that -- day in and day out -- is run by armies of women and men between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age.
They start as interns, graduate students, subcommittee researchers, political party staffers and assistants to the assistants of people with grand titles at nonprofit think tanks. Eventually they move up to desks low on the food chains of Hill committees and members of Congress. The really talented ones graduate to higher jobs over in the Senate and in the national offices of the Democratic and Republican parties. Some of them work in the dens of the news and opinion industry.
They work stunningly long hours, battle stress every day, move around a lot, receive paychecks that barely cover the basic costs of their Beltway lives and frequently recover from all of this at night and on weekends through forms of relaxation other than prayer, Bible study and scrapbooking. The overwhelming majority of them, for reasons that should be obvious in a sentence at the end of this paragraph, are not married.
Here is the second reality, as I have heard it explained by journalists and politicos: Evangelical Christians are to the Republican Party what labor-union members are to the Democratic Party. They are a key part of the coalition at the heart of their parties, especially when it comes to getting out the vote, but the elite leaders at the top of the food chain know that these voters ultimately have nowhere else to go (even though moral issues did push quite a few Catholic workers into the "Reagan Democrat" niche).
When push comes to shove, the issues that matter most to these groups will be compromised in favor of political positions that appeal to other groups. Why? Because party leaders believe they have no other political options. How many people who care about the hard-core "faith and family" issues are seriously going to consider voting for national Democratic candidates that can pass the doctrinal loyalty test administered by Planned Parenthood, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the editorial board of The New York Times?
Now, with those realities in mind, read Neuman's report. Here's some of the key language:
The tension between Republican gays and evangelicals has been highlighted in recent weeks by the scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who resigned over explicit messages he sent to underage male House pages. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a television interview last week that there should be an investigation into whether gay congressional staffers were responsible for covering up for Foley.
Perkins also has questioned whether gay Republican staffers on Capitol Hill have torpedoed evangelicals' priorities, such as a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. "Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members and/or staffers?" he asked in an e-mail to supporters.
. . . This week, a list that is said to name gay Republican staffers has been circulated to several Christian and family values groups -- presumably to encourage an outing and purge.
Clearly, there are e-documents floating around and I expect them to hit the fan at ABC News or elsewhere soon.
But here is my point. For a moment, try to think of this as an issue broader than homosexuality. Part of what is going on is that it is probably hard, or at least harder, for camp in the GOP that has an agenda focusing on faith and family to thrive in a city that, statistically, is dominated by single adults and workaholics.
As that old saying goes: What is a neo-conservative? It's a Democrat with a daughter. Study any poll and you will see that people who are married and have children tend to be more socially conservative (and more active in organized religion) than people who are single or divorced, with few or no children.
Meanwhile, as hard as it is for journalists to admit this, the Republicans are the people who have the most division in their elite ranks on religious and moral issues. When it comes to abortion, gay rights and other similar issues, the GOP is the yin-yang party, while elite Democrats are marching to the same drummer and chanting the same social-issues creed.
All of this must be hunky dory for the likes of Karl Rove.
In other words, why is this story a surprise? I'm amazed that it has taken so long for us to see a mini-wave of MSM coverage of this reality. So you are Dr. James Dobson. What are your options?