Monday, April 29, 2013

Will the American Unity PAC make a difference in GOP attitudes?

People are talking about the American Unity PAC and its affiliated (501[c]3) American Unity Fund. These are the people who are taking on the National Organization for Marriage directly. To counter NOM's threats of retribution made to pro-equality GOPers, they are pumping in money to support these  Republicans. We can see their handiwork in places like Rhode Island and Illinois. They also helped to fund the successful campaigns last fall.

This June, American Unity PAC will celebrate its first birthday. The PAC was initially funded by Paul Singer who is not only a billionaire hedge fund manager but one of the most prominent Republican donors and fund raisers in the country. Singer has the power to not only put money where it is needed but to withhold money from their party where that money would go to anti-gay candidates.

Last June, the New York Times reported that Singer had given nearly $10 million of his own money to gay-rights initiatives, specifically marriage equality efforts in New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. That figure did not include donations to individual Republican Candidates who support marriage equality.

Their stated mission is simple:
American Unity PAC is the voice of Republican voters who are committed to equal rights and full relationship recognition for gay and lesbian Americans. We are committed to the values of freedom – limited government, free enterprise, individual liberty, personal responsibility, a strong national defense and the importance of family. In the spirit of these values, we believe the promise of America should be extended to all, regardless of their orientation. Our mission is to engage in federal elections to protect and promote inclusive Republicans.
The question remains. Can they make a difference?

It's more complicated than a simple yes or no. We need to be realistic. They are going to be influential with legislatures in blue and purple states. On the other hand, they are unlikely to be successful in Oklahoma and Mississippi.

On the federal level , things get even more complicated. Evangelical Christians still comprise much of the machinery of the Republican Party. Organized through their churches, they rings bells, stuff envelopes and make telephone calls.

Furthermore, the Tea Party overlaps the evangelical base and seems to have a great deal of power within the Republican Party. The Tea Party people are in Congress not to govern but to make a point. Similarly, Evangelical Christians have been willing to cede elections to Democrats to make their point. In doing so they have help the GOP hostage to an anti-choice, anti-LGBT agenda.

Another reality is that the gay groups, the Log Cabin Republicans and, more recently, GOProud have been utter failures. Neither has accomplished anything while GOProud had the cultural stupidity to believe that they are part of the Christian dominated Tea Party. They don't seem to be working with AU PAC which might reflect Singer's disdain for both organizations.

I used to be a Republican. I changed party not because of social views but because I think that supply-side economics has been, and continues to be, a means of shifting a spectacular amount of wealth to the very richest in our society. Civilizations rise and fall on the strength of the middle class and Republican economics have been eroding the middle class at an alarming rate. There is also something obscene about people being forced to sleep in Lummus Park or on the sands of South Beach.

After almost five years of Obama we still have a tax system that magically changes ordinary income into capital gains at the whims of lobbyists. I'll stop there. I am profoundly grateful for everything that Singer is doing. Just don't expect me to vote Republican ever again until they take their thumb off the scale of our economy.
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