The EFM Feature

Yesterday, writing in response to Andrew Sullivan’s diatribe against the Governor’s decision to end his support for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (or “ENDA”), National Review‘s David Frum points to no less of an authority than Sullivan himself for the reasons why the Governor might make such a move. In 1998, Sullivan wrote:

Are gay people generally victims in employment? Have we historically been systematically barred from jobs in the same way that, say, women, blacks, and the disabled have? And is a remedy therefore necessary? My own view is that, while there are some particular cases of discrimination against homosexuals, for the most part getting and keeping jobs is hardly the most pressing issue we face. …
Even in those states where job-protection laws have been enacted, sexual orientation cases have made up a minuscule proportion of the whole caseload.
Most people–gay and straight–know this to be true; and so they sense that the push for gay employment rights is unconvincing and whiny. I think they’re right. …
Instead of continually whining that we need job protection, we should be touting our economic achievements [and] defending the free market that makes them possible ….
Of course, we’re told that until we’re protected from discrimination in employment, we’ll never be able to come out of the closet and effect the deeper changes we all want. But this is more victim-mongering. …

Responding to Frum today, Sullivan says that he has never supported ENDA, but that he merely decided to stop publicly opposing it (interesting distinction). Frum’s rejoinder is perfect:

But if Andrew has not recanted his opposition to ENDA, why does he berate and abuse Mitt Romney for the offense of agreeing with him?

Ultimately, I think the mere accusation that the Governor is a “flip-flopper” is not enough to undermine his conservative support. It is not the kiss of death for a political leader to change–as we have pointed out time and again on EFM, some of the most beloved members of the conservative movement came from pro-abortion, Democratic pasts. From the conservative perspective, change to our side of the argument is good, so long as the change itself is convincing (the Governor’s actions in Massachusetts speak volumes), and the reasons for the change are well-articulated and compelling.
One of Ronald Reagan’s most powerful assets was his story of migration from the Democratic party to the Republican ranks. As he spoke about this change, millions of people said to themselves, “He’s also talking about me–he’s telling my story,” and they felt emboldened to cross party lines and vote for him. Now, more than 25 years later, we live in bitterly partisan times–with the cultural battles over abortion and same-sex “marriage” the source of much of the bitterness. The elite media would have us believe that it is only a matter of time before we all “grow” to become more “tolerant” and “accepting” of the destruction of life in the womb and the continued destruction of the traditional family.
For Governor Romney–a man who once supported abortion rights and the expansion of legal protections for homosexuality–to survey the cultural landscape, see the societal costs of such positions, and very publicly change course, speaks volumes. He is defying the left in its own backyard, and I believe the story behind this change will speak to millions of Americans who are growing increasingly uncomfortable with an elite culture that devalues life, views the selfish interests of parents as more important than the best interests of children, and so often uses sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws as a club to drive religious expression from the public square.

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