Andrew Sullivan steps up

December 1, 2009 • 2:48 pm

I’ve had my differences with Andrew Sullivan, especially over the compatibility of science and religion, but today he gets plaudits for his post “Leaving the right” over at the Daily Dish.  In it he proffers a long list of reasons why he can no longer support conservatism.  A few of them (my emphasis):

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

I cannot support a movement that is deeply homophobic, cynically deploys fear of homosexuals to win votes, and gives off such a racist vibe that its share of the minority vote remains pitiful.

I cannot support a movement which has no real respect for the institutions of government and is prepared to use any tactic and any means to fight political warfare rather than conduct a political conversation.

I cannot support a movement that sees permanent war as compatible with liberal democratic norms and limited government.

I cannot support a movement that criminalizes private behavior in the war on drugs.

I cannot support a movement that would back a vice-presidential candidate manifestly unqualified and duplicitous because of identity politics and electoral cynicism.

I cannot support a movement that regards gay people as threats to their own families.

I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.

I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy.

I cannot support a movement that refuses ever to raise taxes, while proposing no meaningful reductions in government spending.

I cannot support a movement that refuses to distance itself from a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh or a nutjob like Glenn Beck.

I cannot support a movement that believes that the United States should be the sole global power, should sustain a permanent war machine to police the entire planet, and sees violence as the core tool for international relations.

Does this make me a “radical leftist” as Michelle Malkin would say? Emphatically not. But it sure disqualifies me from the current American right.

To paraphrase Reagan, I didn’t leave the conservative movement. It left me.

And increasingly, I’m not alone.

Good for you, Mr. Sullivan!  Regarding evolution (not the largest issue on the plate), a party that doesn’t accept it as a fact is a party that can deny anything.

h/t: Greg Mayer

28 thoughts on “Andrew Sullivan steps up

  1. Hm. We should all post our own “I cannot support a movement that…” on our blogs. It’s like poetry. A collective string of reasons why religion is, in fact, a horrible thing to support.

  2. “Regarding evolution (not the largest issue on the plate), a party that doesn’t accept it as a fact is a party that can deny anything”

    Several years ago, I used to read the conservative blog Powerline. I was already getting pretty tired of their knee-jerk Bush-worship, but the last straw was when one of the writers got all indignant about someone pointing out that he was a creationist. Even if you don’t agree with me about creationism, does that diminish my posts about politics? he asked.

    And I realize the answer had to be “yes.” It’s one thing to get a specific factual detail wrong. But anyone who can accept, let alone promote, the massive lies and distortions of creationists is not someone who can be taken seriously or credibly on any subject.

  3. Sullivan, whether you generally agree or disagree with him, deserves our congratulations. It just goes to show that not all right wingers are wingnuts, the same way not all left wingers are moonbats.

    1. Yes, individuals vary. But today the wingnuts are clearly driving the right wing bus. They are in charge of the GOP. They control the issues which are driving that bus. Over a cliff.

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  5. I don’t think there’s any danger of people from the left (not that the USA really has a left in politics, it has a center right and a far right) confusing Sullivan with a leftist.

    He’s a right winger that’s just not crazy enough for what presently calls itself the right; they don’t deserve the term conservative.

    I disagree with him about a great many things, but I must applaud his stand here.

    A healthy democracy needs both a vigorous and intellectual left and right; needs a dissenting voice when dissension is called for, and people that can stand together when need surpasses partisanship.

    When the rabid fringe that currently imagines it has a god-given right to rule and will use any means to achieve it is finally excised, or at least weakened enough that other conservative voices may be heard, the many true conservatives that have left the fold in recent years will have to come in to pick up the tattered remains of intellectual conservatism.

  6. Can an atheist be a conservative? Yes, but the problem that has developed is the Republican has ramped itself up from courting the “Moral Majority” of the late 70’s to now espousing and proselytizing those belief systems from the religious right. In a sense I’m screwed politically in this country, I can’t vote for a party that is anti atheists and the other party has never fully appealed to me intellectually.

    1. You’re screwed politically only if you believe there are two viable parties. Register as a non-partisan (NP) or Independent or whatever designation your state allows.

      Some say, “But then I won’t get to vote in the primaries.” Phooey. If everybody who is truly independent politically so registered the two parties would put forth better candidates. If not, true independents, seeing a large number of unaffiliated voters, would be encouraged to run.

      1. Some say, “But then I won’t get to vote in the primaries.”

        There is no place in the US that requires you to vote for the party whose primary you voted in. Register for the party most likely to win. Vote for their least awful candidate in the primary. But in the real election, you vote for someone else. I’ve done that in 4 different election years – and for multiple offices in some of those years.

  7. Well said, Andrew Sullivan!

    Almost any ONE of those seems a sufficient reason to me.

    I can add one for you:

    I cannot support a movement that refuses to compromise with others or to negotiate differences to enable bipartisan legislation that benefits our country’s people.

  8. Nobody in Washington takes Andrew Sullivan seriously. Imagine a woman with PMS 24/7 and passing her feelings off as “objective opinions,” and you have Andrew Sullivan.

    1. Would “nobody” include President Obama, who had a dinner meeting with Sullivan and various other pundits earlier this year?

      I’m not terribly fond of Sullivan; I find him incredibly hypocritical in his willingness to bash others in the strongest language possible while decrying the alleged lack of civility of anyone who is goring his ox. (Compare his snide comments about Scientology to his indignation about any criticism of Catholicism.) But like him or not, Sullivan runs a very popular and widely-read blog.

      It’s also a little tiresome how so many criticisms of Sullivan (who is gay) seem to compare him to a woman. You’ve managed a twofer of misogyny and homophobia — congrats!

  9. I suppose I should be happy, but Andrew Sullivan, to me, has always been the kid who shows up two years too late to the party. At his age, you’d expect him to have sorted out his political views, yet he takes these teeny, tiny baby steps, and gets applauded for them. There’s nothing actually remarkable about him; he only gets plaudits for inching slowly away from fundamentalist religion and conservative politics.

    When you consider that he’s a gay man with HIV who’s taken years to abandon allegiance to the political party who didn’t give a damn about his kind (and who has actively thwarted their health), and that he still labels himself a Catholic, despite the Church’s disgusting contempt for his civil rights. . .

    . . . count me as totally fucking unimpressed. Are you all sure you really want to clap for him? Low bar, indeed.

    1. I find Sullivan compelling reading, but largely because of the extremely earnest and heartfelt machinations he goes through defending a party and religion that despises all he represents. It’s like seeing someone who is extremely smart explaining why they stay with a romantic partner who beats them up.

    2. In fairness, the blogpost is based on his book from several years back. This isn’t his road-to-Damascus moment or anything. He has held these views for quite a while.

  10. I credit Andrew Sullivan for being one of the earliest and most eloquent advocates of gay marriage, back in the 80’s when he was editing The New Republic. He’s utterly undependable on a wide range of issues, but he’s too frequently interesting to ignore.

  11. Abd yet Andrew S is only too happy to cravenly point to, while refraining from coming out in full-throated agreement with, Bryan Appleyard’s or one of his henchmen’s pathetic attempts to attack P.Z. Myers (which Sullivan until recently, when he was called on it, carefully spelled ‘Meyers’ – ‘he only does it to annoy because he knows it teases’, to quote Lewis Carroll). Yes, he has shown himself recently to be on the ‘right side’ of things, particularly regarding torture and Iran, though formerly, with respect to Bush and the Iraq war he was very nuch on the wrong side (and he has never apologised for his quite sickening and irresponsible traducing of Hans Blix,so far as I know), but I think that in the end he is not trustworthy: he wants too much to be liked, though he is certainly gifted in producing a blog that is usually appealing and interesting in its variety, and is far too ready to indulge a kind of infantile streak in himself particularly when he feels that what he supposes to be his absolute religious principles are threatened, and to let fools like Bryan Appleyard do his fighting for him because he knows he would come off worst in any encounter with PZM or, for that matter, with Jerry Coyne. Every time I feel I begin to have some small respect for AS, he manages to destroy it…

  12. I don’t fully disagree with those saying “Color me unimpressed,” though I do have to say that it gives testament to the awesome power of Catholic brainwashing that both a pro-gay activist like Sullivan and a feminist blogger like Isis cling desperately and defensively to the anti-gay anti-woman religion of their youth… I think that says more about Catholicism than it does about Sullivan or Isis.

    However, I do still find news like this encouraging. In the run-up to the 2008 election, every self-identified conservative whom I knew and also had respect for found themselves unable to support the Republican party any longer. (Some I knew had reached this conclusion earlier in the Bush years, but for many the bizarre pandering to what would become the teabagger movement was the final straw)

    The only people I know who are still Republicans are people whose political opinion I had absolutely no respect for to begin with. That really says something. There was once a time when I knew Republicans about which I could say, “I disagree with you about a great many issues, but what you have to say is interesting and I am quite willing to listen.” I can no longer say that.

    Which is unfortunate, because as efrique pointed out, a healthy democracy needs viable and valid parties on both sides of the aisle. The GOP is no longer valid. Whether it is still viable remains to be seen… by great hope is that the Republican party will continue to marginalize themselves, until eventually the Democratic party fractures into a centrist (i.e. conservative anywhere else in the developed world) and liberal faction. The Centrist Democrats vs. the Liberal Democrats would be a two-party system that, IMO, provided a pretty good balance across the non-extreme portions of the political spectrum.

    1. Oh, and BTW, the best part about this dream scenario where a party made of the current so-called “centrist” Democrats replaced the Republican party, is that the remaining “Liberal Democratics” would be free to unabashedly support gay rights, reproductive rights, universal health care, etc., without the kinds of mealy-mouthed equivocations that are currently necessary to appeal to the conservative branch of the Democratic party. Wouldn’t that be something?

  13. Todd White wrote:

    Nobody in Washington takes Andrew Sullivan seriously. Imagine a woman with PMS 24/7 and passing her feelings off as “objective opinions,” and you have Andrew Sullivan.

    What’s wrong with you? As Screechy wrote, you’ve got two-fer with sexism and homophobia in One Bite (TM). Shame on you. Ophelia’s right – casual sexism is rampant, even among people we’d all like to think of as rational people and allies. It makes my skin crawl.

    It ought to make you blush .

  14. I’ve never quite known what to make of Sullivan. I sometimes get the impression that he would be the most rabid, rightwinger if he hadn’t had to come to terms with the fact that he was gay.

    It’s utterly beyond me why he’s stayed wed to the Catholic Church when it seems that it’s brought him nothing but misery (self-enforced celibacy through-out his early 20s). Why not just join a liberal denomination?

    He’s obviously very intelligent, but at his core, I think he loves being smug and pious and holier than thou.

    As a gay man, I found his argument for gay marriage a bit wince-inducing and almost comically self-serving. Apparently gay marriage will have a conservative effect on gay men, making them all nice and suburban and religious. But as gay men are all innately promiscuous too, the marriages will all be open?! I almost thought he was trying to be offensive when he wrote that.

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