Desperate to distract the public from the presidential election season, Democrat politicians grasped at a peculiar straw – an interview in an obscure publication in which the head of a fast food chain acknowledged his support of existing law – to brand that entire fast food chain as being a crowd of bigots deserving of economic destruction.
So the Left called for a boycott. It failed, of course; all they succeeded in doing was to remind the majority of what a terrific company Chick-Fil-A is. All over the country, the chain enjoyed record lines all day, with cars frequently backed up for blocks as Americans patiently waited for a chance to show their support of a company so honorable that they close on Sundays so their employees can go to church in the morning and spend the day with their families.
The story therefore got away from the original intention. It became about Chick-Fil-A, instead of about “gay rights.” But gay rights are still worth talking about, so let’s spend a few minutes on them, shall we?
Statistics in this area are hard to come by, because business surveys naturally don’t usually include issues of sexual preference. Let’s use the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s recent statistic that over a million small businessmen in the United States are gay. Which party supports them more?
Small businessmen are challenged by a tax code that makes them pay double the Social Security, double the Medicare, in comparison with employees of other people’s businesses (because they pay both halves of the collection instead of having the “unseen company match” that the rest of us enjoy). Small businessmen are usually taxed in the “rich individuals” range, the range of so-called high earners usually targeted for income tax increases when revenue grabs are in the works. If you hear people talking about “taxing the rich”, what they really mean is that they want to raise taxes on entrepreneurs.
Small businessmen are challenged by a regulatory environment that restricts their every innovation, and literally, their every move. Are the doors and aisles designed for wheelchair access? Are the bathroom mirrors the right height off the floor? Do they meet every local building code, every state rule for keeping customers from smoking, every federal rule governing the layout of a factory, the training and licensing of employees, the permits required to do business? Can they withstand the multitude of barriers to entry that government at every level has raised up in their way?
These rules apply to all small businesses, no matter whether the entrepreneur is gay, straight, or neutered. All small businessmen are challenged by a system that supports crony capitalism and big established businesses over the newcomer.
No matter whether the businessman is one of the stereotypical examples – the interior decorator or fashion designer that sitcom writers might turn to when searching for a gay businessman character on television – or the more likely real-world examples – the accountant, engineering consultant, attorney, restauranteur, real estate agent – all small businessmen are challenged by a deck stacked against not only their success, but their very start-up.
The Republican Party in general, and the conservative movement in particular, are well known for their support of entrepreneurs and their efforts to reduce these burdens. There’s no discrimination involved; the Right wants to free the world of entrepreneurs from the dead weight of over-regulation and over-taxing, while the Left just wants more of the same. So, which party is better for the gay small businessman? In the final analysis, it’s not discrimination against gays that people should be concentrating on, it’s discrimination against small businessmen, as practiced by the Left, not by the Right.
The Education System
America’s education system is more than a national embarrassment; it’s an international joke. While we still produce many well-educated people, the credit for these successes usually goes to hard-working children and their parents when they make the conscious choice to rise above their classmates, seeking the tougher class schedules, applying themselves to their studies far more than their average and below average neighbors.
Many of our school systems – usually not the rural ones, but ever more so as population density increases, culminating in the cities – have tiered structures in which top students obtain a demanding, quality education, average students obtain barely enough to function in society, and poor students receive social promotion, learning next to nothing throughout their school years.
Certainly some of the blame must go to the children themselves, and the parents, and the pop culture, But much of the blame cannot be avoided by those who run the schools: the school boards and teachers’ unions, and the state legislators who burden the schools with dozens of costly mandates that crowd out academic pursuits. It is telling that average test scores improve as you move along a map, geographically, from high-density Democrat majority areas toward lower-density Republican areas. The schools that have been in the clutches of Democrat management the longest are the ones in which the decent education is most tilted toward the elite, and the majority receive far less for the taxpayer’s dollar.
Who does this help or hurt? All gay Americans were children once, as straight ones were. All gay Americans attended the schools, either public or private, except for the miniscule statistic who were homeschooled. A system gauged by standardized tests can’t be said to be good for straight students and bad for gay students. They’re all a part of the statistics; only the highest, most driven performers are likely to get a good education in America. The average and poor student, whether straight or gay, gets cheated out of it by this system.
Additionally, our taxpayer-supported public education system often produces war zones rather than educational environments. The more urban a district, the more likely it is to be infested with gang activity, with drug and sex crimes, with peer pressure to participate or in other ways support the petty crime that all-too-quickly leads to more serious crime. In the worst examples, it makes the schools a danger to everyone within. In even the milder examples, the very presence of this activity is a terrible distraction from education.
If this environment – a noticeable criminal element, constantly underfoot, sometimes practically running the school – is dangerous for straight children, imagine what it must be like for those who are, or are becoming, gay in their sexual preference? Bad kids – bullies, gangsters, whatever – prey on the weak, the weaker. They are rough on minorities of all kinds, and in their teen years, such mishandling of children perceived to be gay can be worst of all. Namecalling, bullying, theft and beatings may not even stand out in an environment rife with drug dealing, rape, and murder; the authorities may not even notice the anti-gay activity going on under their noses as a result… but the students do.
Which party is better for the gay student? Which party has tried for decades to break the cabal of corrupt school boards controlled by their teachers’ unions? Which party has tried to provide school choice and higher academic standards? Which party has tried to reduce the costly mandates of unnecessary and expensive frills so that the schools could concentrate on academia instead?
Clearly, the party that favors the students over the union bosses is the party that stands with the students, gay or straight. In fact, all the more so for the gay student, who is often even more at risk from a dangerous environment than the straight student, because of his or her greater vulnerability.
And yes, this brings us to the criminal justice system. For over fifty years, the Democratic Party has favored every move to ease the path for criminals and empty our prisons. From technicality acquittals to an ever-loosening environment of continuances and appeals, Democrat legislators and Democrat judges and justices have campaigned for a weakening of the standards, allowing criminals to walk as it became ever more difficult to convict them.
This has turned our cities into a war zone. While most cities have always had a noticeably higher crime rate than less populated areas, for a long time the major shopping districts were considered safe from most threats other than the talented pickpocket, until recently.
Chicago, for example, has long had severe crime in its poor neighborhoods… no excuse for that, by the way, no excuse whatsoever… but at least it made crime largely avoidable. If it’s dangerous, you can move. Don’t go there. Society should fix it, but smart renters and shoppers could easily avoid the risk.
No more. In recent years, Chicago has been infested with “flash mobs.” No, not the dance troupe in trench coats that descends upon a shopping mall in a television commercial. Flash mobs are gangs of dozens of youngsters who suddenly charge a shop, overwhelm the security guards, and shoplift as much as they can while doing as much damage as possible before rushing out in all directions; too many to chase, too many to catch.
The advent of the flash mob has rendered the greatest shopping areas in these cities a danger zone. It has newly emboldened the robbers, muggers and rapists who used to stay out of the open, or to stay out of the better neighborhoods. Many cities – Chicago in particular, as this phenomenon has taken root on Michigan Avenue – are now overwhelmed and terrorized by this new risk.
The gay shop clerk is at as much risk as the straight shop clerk; the gay proprietor is at as much risk as the straight one. The gay landlord of the mall or storefront is just as terrorized by this new level of criminality as the straight landlord.
The question isn’t which party cares more about the gay shop clerk than about the straight shop clerk. The question is which party cares more about the shop clerk than about the thug. The question is which party has emboldened the criminals to attack them, versus which party is trying to boost the tools of law enforcement and the criminal justice system to give every law-abiding citizen safer streets to walk down, safer neighborhoods to live in, safer stores in which to shop, safer parking lots to which you return, after shopping, after working, after the malls are closed and the night has fallen.
The Left has spent generations making it easier on the criminals who terrorize the rest of us, while the Right has tried to resist, but usually been denied the votes to ever be strong enough in majority, for long enough, to turn this nightmare around. Judges and justices are often in office, making bad calls and legislating destructively from the bench, for ten years or even for life; the Right needs to be given a chance to replace the bad apples in the judiciary, as well as correcting bad law.
The Great Distraction
How many more issues can we list? We could go on for days. Virtually every plank of any political party or candidate can be viewed as a plank containing both straight people and gay people, if you really wanted to.
Abortion kills children, both children who would have grown up to be straight and children who would have grown up to be gay. Which party favors giving all those children a chance at life, and which party favors allowing that chance to snuffed out?
Health care affects doctors, nurses, hospital managers, insurance companies, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical innovators and salesmen, and patients and their families. All these – from practitioners to stockholders to salesmen to the patients themselves – might be straight or gay. Good reforms, such as the conservative proposals to allow interstate insurance sales, and loosening the hold of the overly-restrictive FDA, and tort reform, would help all those affected people, no matter whether they’re straight or gay. The monstrosity of Obamacare, on the other hand, will cripple the economy at large as well as the individuals directly affected, no matter whether they’re straight or gay.
Record unemployment, under Obama well over double the average as recently as the Bush II years, hurts everyone. In fact, you could argue that it’s worse for people in a minority group, as the ever present bigotry common to all mankind will unavoidably result in making it even harder on any minority. If it’s hard for somebody who is demographically just like the hiring manager to get a job, imagine how difficult it must be for someone much different.
In the final analysis, a bad economy hurts everyone, both straight and gay, young and old, European-American or African American, urban or rural. Dangerous streets put everyone at risk; massive unemployment hurts everyone’s standard of living. The problems of this nation are not of sexual preference at all. They are the problems of politics – plain old-fashioned politics. Should government favor the business or the regulator? Should government favor the criminal or the victim? Should government support individual rights and opportunity, or suppress them in the service of some ancient Marxist attempt at equalization of results?
The Left knows all this. The American Left (or perhaps, more accurately, the un-American Left) has spent decades in their efforts to divide America by artificial lines. They’ve concocted the idea that gay Americans need special support from government, that black Americans need special support from government, that women need special support from government… then invented such a crippling economic system that such claims to need special support are believable, particularly to the gullible, particularly to those who are susceptible to the tempting concept of identity politics.
We must resist. We must resist the temptation to be boxed into little groups – the straight vs, the gay, the old vs. the young. Resist newly-created distractions like the claim that what gay Americans really need is the legalization of “gay marriage,” a concept that didn’t even exist a generation ago.
No, what gay Americans need is exactly what all Americans need. A growth economy, a lowering of unemployment, a return to the climbing scale of our general standard of living that Americans long enjoyed before the Left got their clutches so deep into our system that they started successfully dragging it down with red tape and taxes.
Which party is best for gay Americans? It depends on what defines you as a person. Is it the time you spend at a dance or in bed? Or is it the years you spend in school, the years you spend at work, the years you spend in retirement?
Are you safe in your home from burglars? Are you safe on the street from muggers? Is your car safe in a parking lot? Is your business safe from robbers or flash mobs or government regulators who would shut you down over some ridiculous line in the millions of pages of the Code of Federal Regulations?
Is your savings account safe from the devaluation of currency? Is your retirement fund safe from the grasping hands of a government desperate for new sources of confiscated wealth to feed the leviathan that the Left has nurtured for so long at the expense of everyone else?
These are the questions that matter. Politics in America are not straight vs. gay, and never have been. The Left sees their choke-hold on the electorate weakening, and they’re grasping at straws the same way as they’ve long grasped at money and power.
November is our chance to stand up to them. November is our chance to say that we can rise above the distractions of the politics of sex, the politics of race, the politics of group-think.
November is our chance to proudly say We are Americans, and we will vote for what’s best for America. Not for one group or another, but for all law-abiding citizens.
And November can’t come soon enough!
Copyright 2012 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade lecturer. A former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he was also president of Chicago’s Cold War era Ethnic American Council in the 1980s, a group that sought to make the point, in their own small way, that people’s united commitment to freedom is what matters most, not the hyphenation of being an Italian-American or Irish-American or German-American. What we must never forget is to be Americans, first and foremost.
Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included. Follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn.