With Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann attracting most of the attention, it’s easy to see why a political non-entity like Fred Karger is feeling a bit left out. The openly gay candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination is seemingly stymied at every turn he faces – he’s been repeatedly shut out of televised debates and has yet to gain much traction in terms of the polls.
In the face of these odds, why does Karger push forward? Does he genuinely believe that despite almost-zero face time on television and virtually no fundraising prowess, he can topple the more established Romney, Perry and Bachmann? Or his is fight a symbolic one: a way to open up the GOP field and try to force some inclusiveness to the famously discriminating party.
Touting himself as a true political heir to Republican icon/saint, President Ronald Reagan, Karger is running on a platform of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism-to-libertarianism. This kind of political marriage is usually tricky for Republican candidates because any attempt at respecting civil liberties, civil rights or egalitarianism by GOP politicos will be seen as either treason, capitulation to the nonexistant liberal media, or lack of moral values.
Karger’s position is worth looking at, because he represents an interesting trend in GOP politics: minority or traditionally-disenfranchised conservatives – we see with the popularity of Tea Party superstars like Bachmann, Sarah Palin or Nikki Haley, that these conservative voters who often fight against women’s rights and issues, are willing (at least in theory) to support women candidates. And in respect to Florida congressman, Allen West, we also see that black politicians can also find favor with conservatives as long as they tow the line and play the part.
But Karger’s different – no one can accuse him of being a team player – in fact, much of his candidacy is spent pointing fingers at others to explain the lurching nature of his campaign as well as his silent public profile. His embrace of same-sex marriage, abortion rights, a withdrawal from Iraq and legalisation of marijuana makes his campaign sound like the fringe candidacies of Senator Mike Gravel or Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Would Karger have an easier time of it, if he switched from Republican to Democrat?
Possibly – though, he’d have to wait until 2016, as he would never be able to mount credible opposition to President Obama. And also, despite the left wing’s professed easiness with gay rights issues, we’re still looking at the concept of a gay president – which I don’t think is a possibility anytime soon. We would have a president in the White House, who wouldn’t have the same rights as his vice president, chief of staff or any member of his cabinet (except for the LGBT folks).
So, is Karger just simply fighting the good fight, or is he Don Quixote, jousting at imaginary windmills. I’m not too sure – there are times when I veer back and forth with this question. I’m never happy when I hear of LGBT conservatives – I bristle at the concept, and I completely reject the notion that there needs to be LGBT representation everywhere. Why? I don’t think there should be LGBT representation in the KKK or the NRA, and I don’t think that the Republican Party is a place for LGBT folks, either (cue the angry Log Cabin gays who will insist that it’s Democrats who are homophobic and that the real Republican Party is pro-gay and that it was hijacked by extremists, yada yada yada).