Politics have seldom seen a more complete act of self-immolation than the government shutdown/debt ceiling crisis that has just ended. The Republican party parlayed an impossible demand (defunding Obamacare) into three weeks of anarchy that sank the party’s popularity to record lows with voters. Worse still, the GOP’s inability to cope with reality cost the U.S. billions, threw thousands out of work and interjected a wholly unnecessary note of uncertainty into a struggling economy.
And gay money is in part to thank for this hellish state of affairs.
If any single person can be held accountable for the crisis, it would be Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texan is the one who egged on House conservatives, telling them that they should hold the government hostage until Obamacare was killed. Yet he had no strategy in the event that the President decided he wasn’t going to gut his signature accomplishment. He expressly went against the wishes of the party leadership, which had hoped to place its bets on using the debt ceiling as a hostage instead (equally reprehensible in its own right).
Even now Cruz is lambasting his party colleagues for being lily-livered, spineless quislings responsible for “bombing our own troops.” He is also basking in the adulation of right-wingers who see him as the one, true voice of righteousness in Washington.
That Cruz is even in D.C. at all is thanks to Paypal and Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel, who is openly gay and lives in San Francisco. Thiel was the largest donor to the super PAC that was instrumental in helping Cruz secure the GOP senate nomination in 2012. When Cruz started his campaign, he polled in the low single digits. Thanks to the investment of wealthy donors like Thiel, he was able to score an upset over the establishment candidate (who, just to show you want moderate means in today’s GOP, now thinks Obama should be impeached).
Cruz isn’t the only Republican who is a recipient of Thiel’s largesse. Others include Sen. Rand Paul (whose father’s presidential campaign Thiel pretty much single handedly funded), Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan.
But Cruz is the worst of the lot. By all accounts, to know him is to loathe him, and that includes many members of his own party. More to the point, Cruz follows a scorched earth policy that is, as his shutdown rhetoric shows, completely divorced from all political reality, which makes he truly dangerous. He sets a new low in what is already a deep valley.
And he’s reaping all the rewards that go with that distinction on the right. He was the number one presidential choice for the attendees of the anti-gay, religious right Values Voter Summit and he raked in $1.19 million in fundraising in the last quarter.
The Houston Chronicle, which endorsed Cruz in his Senate race, has since expressed its regrets about its choice. It is bad enough that Thiel would contribute, with no strings attached, to a candidate who inveighs against same-sex marriage. It is even worse that he’d contribute to a reckless leader who literally shook the world’s financial foundation for the sake of a bizarre Tea Party obsession, Obamacare. (We would like to hear Thiel inform people with HIV exactly how his libertarian philosophy would do what Obamacare does to eliminate pre-existing conditions as a barrier to health insurance.)
Will Peter Thiel admit his mistake? Probably not.
And while Thiel deserves a lion’s share of the blame because of his deep pockets (note to Thiel: at least require candidates to pledge not to aid anti-gay causes before writing them checks), he’s hardly the only enabler. Last year, GOProud endorsed its string of House Republicans, none of which stood up for stopping the shutdown. Although, at least some GOProud endorsees, like Charlie Dent, complained about the party strategy, while GOProud stuck with the party line in its Twitter stream.
Until the Republican party realizes that there’s no future being the party of right-wing anarchists, anyone who sticks up for them shares in the blame. Just to be clear: this isn’t a judgment on political philosophy. You can be conservative (or libertarian) and speak the truth; openly gay columnist Josh Barro is proof that integrity is possible.
But if you keep paying for politicians who are intent on destruction in the question for principle, you deserve all the condemnation you get, whether you’re gay or not.