Commencement context is that there are; Conservatives and Conservatives in waiting, Semi conservatives if you will. Conservatives in waiting are not prepared to cross the full range of Social Conservative red lines. It’s not a case of disrespect; many Social Conservative ideas are viewed as valid in degrees by those in waiting. It’s a question of base line Conservative thinking, applied consistently.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a perfect example.
Conservatives eschew waste of potential or artificial barriers to accomplishment, most especially those foisted by government. The better we all are…well, the better we all are. The patriotism that Conservatives so respect does in fact reside in gay people; you know, say it with me; “all men are created equal”!
Our most respected institution, the U.S. Military, integrated the services; they incorporate women in an ever expanding set of roles. They are now asked to do the same with sexual orientation. I ask; who better to be called to the challenge?
Three of the top brass say “not now, too much going on”; they have a valid point. Supportive brass, equal in number, says “it’s time”. The report surveying experience and attitude of service members has them saying, in essence; “hey, we can handle it”. Take out the Marines (love the Marines, no matter what….but) and the “no problem” numbers are significant. Overwhelming majorities say they are reasonably sure they’ve already served with a gay soldier, sailor, airman or Marine; “no big deal”!
The military has a singular advantage; discipline! They can, organizationally, establish behavioral disciplines and standards that deliver the appropriate message under penalty of law. It’s easy to respect the “Not now, too much going on” point of view. OK guys, fair is fair; 18 months from now “Don’t Ask” goes away; do what you do, get ready!
I think of a gay friend, Bobby who was, without a doubt the toughest guy I ever knew and one of the best. I envision what Bobby would have done finding himself, a gay man, in a combat unit? Bobby would have stood up in front of his squad and said; “I’m gay, and just for the record, there’s not a one of you ugly SOB’s that could interest a blind man with low standards.” “I’m gay, I’m also your brother, I’m the guy who WILL watch your back, I am one of you; this is where I want to be.” In my imagination Bobby is heroic in small, yet crucially important ways, as are the straight soldiers who serve with him.
It’s about truth and your definition of the truth. If your definition of truth is the absence of lies; Houston, we have a problem. That’s what “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is; the absence of a lie.
If the truth is who and what you are and part of that is a desire to serve, you make a statement of values transcending ethnicity, class or sexual orientation. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” should be an affront to Conservative values; minus the hysteria.
Gay’s represent 13% of the population; they represent a variety of views and values. They represent all economic classes, all manner of talent and capability. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, in essence, paints them all with a broad brushstroke. Is that Conservative?
Conservatives in waiting wait to see the Social Conservative agenda fairly represented, without being overwhelming; a voice, not the voice. Conservatives in waiting will look for a core definition of Conservatism consistently applied. Convenient application will lead to two likely eventualities; some will call it out and some will simply, silently, turn away. Silence is the danger!
Resisting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is convenient application. It cannot be Conservative to deny the desire to serve country or to arbitrarily impose the rule of law for the purpose of exclusion. We should not motivate dishonesty. Why? By Conservative creed; what you reward, you get more of. Reward service, honesty and accomplishment and by our equation you’ll get more of it. Don’t we need more of it?