In Whose Best Interest Do You Mean: Or How I Learned To Think For Myself

Let me be real for just a moment: I absolutely cringe when I hear somebody on the radio, on the street, on the ol’ television, or in my home say, “They are voting against their own best interest!”

Usually, and knowing my circles, this pertains to Democrats who say this about Republicans, particularly gay Repubs. Sure, I will admit, it is a bit beyond me, the whole Log Cabin/Gay Repub thing, but hey, that’s for them to decide–isn’t it.

You see the issue I have is when ANYBODY feels that they possess any authority whatsoever to decide or better yet, dictate, what someELSE’s best interest are. At any rate, and for what it may be worth, a self interest is precisely that: a SELF INTEREST. I cannot comprehend the mental state where one persons’ personal loyalties somehow are supposed to be lifted up like a blueprint and accepted by all others in remotely similar social situations. Let’s take the aforementioned example for conversation sake.

Gay Republicans. It is true, the Republican party is not particularly kind to the LGBT-persuasion. In some odd way, a so-called ‘gay agenda’ (and I am not aware of this agenda item as of this writing, because I have yet to see this gay agenda–is it laminated and hanging in Oz or some other stereotypically gay locale?) clashes with that of  a Republican agenda. Of course, and it should go without saying, this is a post-Gingrich, post-Reagan Republican era in which the party has been hijacked by a radical Christian Right. Indeed, this means that the more appropriate translation should read: the gay agenda clashes with a Christian Right agenda of God first. Now that makes sense to me. Christianity and gay-ness do clash in some interpretations. And I DO speak from authority here on both sides of the aisle as a recovering Southern Baptist and as an avidly practicing queer. 

So, to the matter of the Gay Republican–the handful that I have come in contact with clearly have a very different idea of what priorities are or what their own interests are. The Repubs are known to be the good ol’ party of rich whities, blah and blah and that Gay Repubs are Dems with  money. However, and whatever the case, a gay Republican simply does not place their LGBT identity at the forefront of their political ideological position. Perhaps it is their money that comes first, perhaps it is their faith, perhaps it is the ‘R’ that is a prettier letter than the measly ‘D’ in Democrat. Whatever the case, Gay Repubs have as much validity voting in their own self interest on the basis of their own definition as any gay Dem who votes for corporate Dems who do not support full LGBT incorporation into our system (e.g. Obama to name one, Clinton to name another). Indeed, and yes I said that.

In my view, a queer vote for Obama was not queer at all. In fact, it was the least queer thing one could do. A vote for Obama does not place an LGBT identity at the forefront of discussion, and if a gay Dem believes otherwise, then they clearly did not understand that Obama holds a centrist view of LGBT people. That is, one (we) can be gay, we just can’t BE gay. Ya hear me?! But that is why Obama was a contender in this race. 

My vote for Obama was not because I was gay. My vote for Obama was in the interest of an America that I believe in. It was for a future of this country that I want to see happen, and it was to put a blockade to the past 8 years of unanswered torture and murdering. Sadly, Bush has placed one of the largest rifts between the two parties leading many to use scare tactical rhetoric such as, “you aren’t voting in your best interest if you vote for McCain (of whomever).” 

The matter is this: we ALL have our own self interest at hand. Just because we do not share the same vote or views of the world does not mean that one of us is voting against our own self interest, it means that we have different priorities OR views of the world. Many of my own family members purely vote for pro-lifers, because that is what is most important. Many of my Dem friends only vote for anti-war candidates because that is important to them.

All I ask is that people take a step back to hear what OTHER people’s priorities are, and to try and understand those priorities–learn to appreciate those differences and then begin to work from there. That is how we grow together.

For the record: Dennis Kuccinich was my candidate, but remains far too ahead our political time.




About Benny

My name is Benny LeMaster. I am an academic, activist, and artist. I research questions of identity, culture, and representation. I am interested in exploring ways to relate to one another in critically affirming ways. In terms of identity, I identify as queer, trans, mixed-race Asian/white, fat, and, frankly, fabulous. Let's talk!
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