On Politics: Is “Divided Support” Even Among Those Who Happen to Share a Particular Characteristic of a Certain Candidate Cause for Concern, or Simply Par for the Course?
By Ken K. Gourdin
This item, from Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly, about the Salt Lake City mayoral race, caught my eye. Seemingly, Rolly makes much ado about the fact that the so-called “gay vote” is divided even though one of the candidates, Jackie Biskupski, is gay. See here, last accessed September 28, 2015: http://www.sltrib.com/news/2991055-155/rolly-lgbt-community-flexes-its-muscles.
I don’t understand all of the handwringing about so-called “divided support.” That’s what happens in elections and political campaigns: one person supports one candidate, and another person supports another, even when those two people share a certain characteristic in common. Some people are of one mind on a particular question or issue, and some people are of another. Even people who happen to share one or more of that candidate’s characteristics won’t think exactly alike on every issue. And even those who agree on one issue are apt to disagree on another. Indeed, to think otherwise is, at best, narrow-minded, and is, at worst, bigoted.
Yet that’s exactly what some people think will (or worse, what they think should) happen when people run for office: if a candidate is African-American, African-Americans automatically will support him regardless of his positions. If a candidate is a woman, women automatically will support her regardless of her positions. If a candidate is gay or lesbian, gays and lesbians automatically will support him or her regardless of the positions the candidate holds.
Or is it really OK to mindlessly cast a straight-party vote—as long as the vote is for the “right” party? (Before you start wondering where my own loyalties lie, while I do lean conservative, I’ve never cast a straight-party vote in my entire voting life, and I don’t intend to start. As for my positions on issues, many of those, too, might surprise you. For example, while I don’t support gay marriage, I voted against Utah’s Proposition 3, which would have amended the state’s constitution to recognize only marriage between a man and a woman, because I felt it would simply encourage litigation. (It took a few years, but I was right.)
I have a disability: if I, in running for office, were simply to take for granted the support of all disabled voters simply because we have that one characteristic in common, I would expect them to wonder why I don’t believe they can think for themselves, especially since autonomy is such a big issue for many (if not most) of the disabled. True, my analogy isn’t perfect, because no two disabilities (even those that are similar) are exactly alike, and disability cuts across gender, race, socioeconomic, and other lines. However, that diversity simply strengthens my argument rather than weakening it.
There isn’t a political candidate alive for whom I’ve voted because I agree with him or her on absolutely everything, or simply because we happen to share a common characteristic. I’ve always tried to bear in mind the old axiom that if two people are of exactly the same opinion on absolutely everything, one of them is unnecessary. And however we might disagree, I certainly don’t think you’re unnecessary.
If I ever run for office and you have an opportunity to cast a vote for that office, I hope you’ll vote for me because we agree on a preponderance of the issues and because you think I’m the best candidate running for that office. Don’t vote for me (or not) because of how I look (or not) or because we both happen to be disabled (or not). I hope you respect me for the courage of my principled convictions even where we disagree, and I will accord you the same courtesy.
Whether you’re African-American, Asian American, Native American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Latino, or the one-eyed, one-horned, pigeon-toed, undergrowed, Flyin’ Purple People Eater; whether you’re a man, a woman, or somewhere in between; whether you’re gay, straight, or bisexual; whether you have a disability or not; vote for (or against) me if I ever run for office, or for (or against) anyone else, for reasons having nothing to do with whatever characteristics you might share (or not).
I’m Ken Gourdin, and I approved this message.