Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Compassionate (Gay) Republican.

This summer I have had many opportunities to discuss with friends of mine who are on almost opposite ends of the political spectrum. They know where I stand politically and they usually know where I stand on issues because of our blog. Both the Joker and the Thief tend to have similar views on current events. Most of my Republican friends actually expect me to disagree with them.

This anecdote however reflects more a personal experience. This year, I was challenged in my views by a man called Steven Sion who runs for State Assembly in California as a gay (and Christian) Republican. Imagine that! One of my very first questions was to ask him if that was not a bit of an oxymoron and how he faced the apparent contradiction given the GOP’s stance on gay marriage, and he acknowledged his disagreement but was very aware of the challenge ahead. [Obviously I was not the first one to ask him that and he had certainly thought things through]

What was interesting is that by talking to him, I realized how much his passion for what he does transpired and I could tell he really believes he can change things not only in his own district but also somewhat in his own party. His goal is to “rejuvenate the Republican Party in the district and change the perception that the Party is only for the wealthy and not progressive on social equality”. As much as I knew some very Compassionate Republican friends of mine, I had yet to meet a true Compassionate Republican running for office – not that I meet politicians so often anyway. But my meeting with him was very refreshing that way.

The other interesting part is that he runs for office in a predominantly democratic [and gay] district where it is actually easier to be gay than to be a Republican. I just loved the irony. He is the odd man in the race and certainly the underdog, and as someone with rather liberal views, my heart goes to the underdog. As much as I disagree with him on a lot of issues, I can appreciate that he should be so devoted and have the courage to stand for what he believes. It takes character. It is also what makes our democracies run since it offers a real alternative.

This led me to realize that quite often politicians – at a local level anyway – may be underappreciated for what they do. They have to meet tons of people, go to endless meetings and make themselves available. They also become exposed to all sorts of public scrutiny and even personal criticism. That’s tough. As a teacher, I get a little bit of that and I think I am already enough of a public figure - I do not think I could do more than that.

In any case, it’ll be interesting to follow what happens in this race in the 42nd district of California, and personally I wish him good luck.

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