Could a “super PAC” specifically geared toward supporting pro-marriage equality GOP candidates be about to change the equality fight?
Until now, one of the strongest weapons in the arsenal of anti-gay marriage foes like the National Organization for Marriage has been the threat to unseat any Republican who votes for marriage equality. While this isn’t always successful, New York being a qualified exception, there is little doubt that it has proved effective in keeping the more moderate voices within the GOP from daring to step off the hard-right line against marriage equality. But could this be about to change? One billionaire hedge fund manager thinks his super PAC idea could be the solution.
That character is Paul E. Singer, 67, a billionaire hedge fund manager who is among the most important Republican donors nationwide. In just one Manhattan fund-raiser last month, he helped to collect more than $5 million for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
In an interview on Tuesday, he told me that he’s confident that in Congressional races, which would most likely be the super PAC’s initial focus, there are more than a few Republicans “who could be on the verge of support” or are “harboring and hiding their views.”
“And this kind of effort could be catalytic in generating some more movement,” he said.
This comes at a time when several leading Republican voices have called for the Party to change its approach to gay rights and be more inclusive.
What is interesting, however, is that Singer backs Mitt Romney for the presidency, saying that he “feels strongly” that President Obama “needs to be fired.” This is despite the fact that Mitt Romney supports the notion of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. With regards to this, Singer says “I think it would be naïve of me to take this issue and just upend everything else I believe,” he said. “Because I think we’re making progress.”
There are of course a number of ways of looking at the super PAC idea.
On the one hand, it could be classed as a positive reinforcement: that GOP supporters of marriage equality will no longer have to fear being unseated simply because they dared to act on their convictions and voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
The other side of the coin, perhaps cynical but certainly merited, is that this super PAC is as problematic as all other super PACs. It takes a single issue, rewards the candidate on those grounds and, most concerning, helps to shield them from voter power.
While we can certainly find it unfortunate, and even unfair, that groups like NOM have been able to capitalize on voter power to unseat politicians (and judges) on gay rights issues, this as an alternative seems deeply problematic because the precedent that has been set suggests big businesses can and will wield such an overreaching power to shield and advance their favored candidates, watering down electoral strength.
There is also the question of whether GOP candidates, and any politician in fact, should require the promise of election/re-election funds before voting on matters of basic fairness and equality.