Chris Douglas

Regarding Eric Dickerson

Filed By Chris Douglas | October 03, 2006 10:25 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Democrats, Eric Dickerson, Julia Carson, Republicans

I've been wrestling internally with the topic of Eric Dickerson. Even as a Republican, I've been a supporter of Julia Carson in the past, for Julia was the only person I remember in 1996 stepping to the plate and embracing the gay community when we were under attack from all directions. (Her opponent that year was conservative Gary Hoffmeister, who had defeated Virginia Blankenbaker, a full fledged moderate Republican, in the Republican primary.) To this day, for all of her faults, I do harbor loyalty to Julia. Below are my thoughts on this race.

Eric Dickerson and the Domestic Charge.

This issue is a legitimate concern. I share the following information without giving it a slant. I now understand that a woman at the First Republicans meeting in June asked Eric whether he had any dirty laundry. (I arrived late and sat at the far end of the table, so I was unaware of this exchange.) He answered that he had a domestic charge on his record. It is the woman who asked him who informed me of this exchange, and who therefore observes that he himself brought the charge to the fore in June, at least to anyone listening.

I have heard speculation, and have speculated myself, that it was the knowledge of the domestic charge that may have precluded the Republican Party from supporting Dickerson earlier on. I put that question to a highly ranked Republican in the Party, who told me that the news came as much as a surprise to them. I believe the lack of Republican Party support for Dickerson relates to three issues: the fact that he gored the chosen ox in the Republican Primary, that he refused to submit to House Republican leadership (more on that shortly), and that the Republicans don't expect him to win. I don't think there was any knowledge of the domestic charge at higher levels of the Party, even though he himself spoke of it.

I remain deeply disturbed by this domestic charge. Does this disqualify Eric Dickerson? Were his opponent free of fault, in my opinion, probably. But Julia, friend that she is to us, is full of faults. (I am influenced by the number of women I have met in informal straw polling that are willing to vote for Dickerson even while disbelieving his account of what happened 16 years ago. The critical issue for this highly unscientific sample is whether it was a one time occurence or a part of a pattern.) Each voter must decide for him or herself the significance and ramification of this charge. Without rendering an opinion, I move on to other issues that are unquestionably important to us.

Eric Dickerson, GLBT Issues, and Independent Thought.

While I had harbored loyalty to Julia Carson for her singular past support, prior to recent events, I had also come to admire Eric Dickerson. He has now been forthcoming in several important ways with regard to the gay community and progressive thought. First, as far back as June, he took a position against any amendment to the Constitution, whether at the state or national level. Second, he has now clarified an important point: his opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, which he made clear in June, does indeed extend in principle to embracing nondiscrimination legislation covering both.

But at the meeting with the First Republicans that took place in June, he made another point which was remarkable at the time. He said that he had received a phone call from the Republican Leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives saying they were at that point prepared to back him and fund him for his run for Congress, for which he thanked them.

Then the House Republican leadership observed that Dickerson had but one action to take, namely, sign and return a fax. When he received the fax, Dickerson saw that he was being asked to commit his vote to Dennis Hastert for Speaker of the House as a condition for national support. He repeated his subsequent gesture at our meeting, which was to look at the palm of his hand as if at a piece of paper, turn his palm flat on the table, and push it quietly to the side. "I wouldn't do it," he said. Eric Dickerson's refusal to act as a mindless Republican and back current leadership is why Eric Dickerson is receiving no national Republican support for his campaign. For this, he has my admiration.

I have also felt Dickerson to be genuine, articulate, reasonable, and intelligent in a way that would set him apart from most of our congressional delegation today, Julia included (with all due affection.) None of this diminishes my understanding of the concern about placing a check on the rampaging conservatives of the Republican caucus. But I note that it has never been accurate to say that a vote for Dickerson is a vote for Dennis Hastert. Is a vote for Dickerson a vote for some kind of Republican control of the House? Yes. And it is legitimate to think about that.

In my opinion, if the Democrats take control of the House, having Dickerson as our rep would help us, for it would give us an important voice in the Republican Caucus, important insight into its deliberations, and a foothold for increased influence, in contrast to a representative of apparently very limited effectiveness in the Democratic caucus. In my opinion, if the Republicans maintain control of the House, having Dickerson as our representative would be even more important. In both instances, thinking selfishly about the interests of the gay community, and nothing else, Dickerson in my opinion would be more effective in Congress than Julia Carson.

The difficulty is this: will the election be so close that this one seat could determine control of the house? There's the rub. Even though Dickerson in my opinion would be more effective and more helpful to the gay community than Julia Carson whether the house is Republican or Democrat, Democratic control of the house would probably produce greater prospects for glbt progress overall.

If control of Congress is too close to call on election day morning, a glbt voter would be wise to think about the issue of party control and vote accordingly. If control of congress appears clearly decided by other races, then a glbt voter could in good conscience in my opinion vote according to the relative merits of the candidates.

Eric Dickerson and the Sale of his Dealership

Much at one point was made about the circumstances of his sale of his dealership, and a Fifth Third Bank legal manuever which at best was meant to ensure that their interests were protected by entering a suit for repayment of their loan. (At worst, as suggested by Advance Indiana, something else was up.) In this instance, I believe Dickerson's explanation of the suit was validated by subsequent events: Fifth Third dropped their suit and got their multi-million dollar check within days of the close of the sale. I credit Dickerson's assertion (I paraphrase) that Fifth Third's action reflected their own issues, and did not reflect on him. My own feeling is that those who have tried to make hay of that particular situation didn't understand it.


Eric Dickerson, the Republican Party, and Race

The idea that Republican Party would not support an African American in my opinion is an attempt to paint Republicans inaccurately with the hopes of preserving African American loyalty to the Democratic Party. There is no truth to it: Isaac Randolph was much courted by Republican leadership for the City County Council and was the pick of Party leadership for the Indiana Senate, so it can't be said that Republican leadership is anti-black. Eric Dickerson won a Republican Party primary without leadership support, so it can't be said that Republican voters are anti-black. In any case, arguing that the Republican Party won't support African Americans is disingenuous. To the contrary, the social conservative ranks of the Republican Party are eager to join in common cause with the social conservative ranks of the African American church-based community, and the moderate leadership is interested in the diversity.


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As always, Chris, a thoughtful post.

I do understand the Dickerson-5/3 issue. I deal with similar issues every day. And I remain baffled. Fifth Third had absolutely nothing to gain by filing so quickly to perfect their lienhold position.

And I'm keenly aware that banks are loathe to attract this kind of publicity.

If ED did not file copies of his personal and business tax returns with 5/3 as required by the loan document (a common requirement in such loans), it was not a "new" revelation to 5/3. They'd have known it months earlier.

I draw no conclusions except to note, that in this whole sordid mess, 5/3 acted strangely. And uncharacteristically. What motivated them is a puzzle to me, but they've never moved quickly in similar cases of which I'm aware. I refuse to beleive a large regional bank would file a lawsuit which was unnecessary, just to appease one mid-level member of the House FInancial Services Committee. There is too much at risk for that.

Mr. Dickerson's domestic charges are old and replayed ad naseum. I have formed an opinion on them, and will cast my vote accordingly.

Through all the nonsense--the bank, the ED domestic accusations, the interloping by various entities--one saliant point rings true more than any other: Miss Carson, by her own admission and the newspaper's confirmation, dropped the file on the table.

That fact is not debated.

And that plays into my decision for this race as much as anything. There's still a month until we vote, and much more can happen.

Let's hope what occurs next, is an honest debate on issues. Because we all deserve that.

Chris -

I have no idea why you continue to persecute your soul by living in such a la-la land about the status of the Republican Party of 2006.

Electing ANY Republican in 2006 is supporting an institution that has evolved into a bigotry machine.

There is no remaining trace of the Republican Party that you like to joyfully remember from the past. I'm really sorry to tell you this, but the ONLY way to make a change at this point is to burn it to the ground and start over. I would love to see a Republican Party that has ANY tolerance for people of different orientations, religions, races, nationalities ... but at this point, the only way that's going to happen is if they're defeated in such a way that you and others can pick up the pieces and start over.

Any chance for change a little bit at a time passed a decade ago (1994). A vote today for Eric Dickerson is a vote for the status quo in the Republican Party and support for the Republican establishment as it exists in 2006.

Why do you keep up this hyperbole disguised as thoughtful concern? Please spare us.

Wilson46201 | October 4, 2006 7:23 PM

unfortunately the GOP outreach to some Black voters is primarily aimed at recruiting homophobic ultra-Christians. That does not bode well for LGBT Americans. We saw how Ike Randolph so quickly screwed LGBT supporters that put him in office.

In the case of Eric Dickerson, I think you are so gleeful at finally finding a Black Republican who wont call you a faggot to your face that you overlook many other issues.

btw, Black GOP activist Jocelyn Tandy indeed did tell me to get "my faggot ass" out of an event where I was photographing Congresslady Carson.

I agree the suit filed by 5/3 was strange. I also find it ironic that the media was extremely one sided on its coverage of the story. A lot of people never heard Julia dropped the story unless they follow the race closely and watch more than the 5 o'clock news.

As far as the domestic case, I have to give him the benefit of doubt. The charges were dropped and the letter written by his wife 15 years ago told a different story. We know the cops were called and that's basically all. I don't agee with domestic violence under any circumstances, but even if it happened there doesn't appear to be a history of violence. We all make mistakes and do things we wish we could take back. If it happened it seems he learned from his mistakes.

More importantly are the issues. And the bottom line in my opinion is who is going to better able to serve our district. Based on Julia's history, politically, I think I'm going to take my chances with the next man. Let's not forget her past isn't that pretty either.

I also would like to say that Eric has displayed great character in his response to the domestic accusations. By not firing back at Julia and sinking to her level of dragging the opponent through the mud to lift himself up, showed the mans integrity and strength. I would rather have someone like that represent and fight for our district in Washington.

Wilson46201 | October 4, 2006 9:26 PM

kim: you should have heard Eric Dickerson at a Bloggers Conference where he totally blew his cool and let go that "nobody in Washington likes her, she cant get anything done, we havent had a voice in Washington for 10 years!". Wow! A principled discussion of issues huh? Just recycled Republican crap they used against Andy Jacobs for many years...

I don't know, Chris. As you say, control of the House of Representatives is what is of the utmost importance. To help ensure that, I'll vote for Julia. I don't care what the predictions are that morning for the election. I'll know I've done my part to make things better for our family.

I tried to post this at your First Repulbican Forum blog, no luck. Since it is somewhat related to your post here thought I'd cross post.

---------------
Douglas, you have come out in support of Erie Dickerson for Congress. Is this an example of what you meant with your call for a new political leadership qualified to steer the (financial responsibility) boat for residents in CD7 by voting for Dickerson?

From the official website of Republican candidate Erie Dickerson:

"At the same time, I know the real engine for job growth starts small with big dreams and plans drawn up around kitchen tables late at night. Yet too many of these dreams are dashed before they are fully realized because people can't get bank loans. I want to change that. As a car dealer, I can qualify virtually anybody for a $50,000 car loan. Business loans should be just as readily available."
ericdickersonforcongress.com/issueseditorial.cfm?EdID=6

Chris Douglas | October 6, 2006 1:43 PM

Kay, sorry you weren't able to post on FR.... don't know why.... wish you would try again...

My comments about Dickerson relate more to my thoughts about the impact of getting more members of the Republican Caucus who are pro civil rights for glbt and anti-ammendment.

I would be cautious about too-easy credit anywhere, and would have to look closely at what Eric Dickerson proposes on that score.

If I would have to name someone in Indiana who has (in my opinion) a solid grasp on the state's economics and a willingness to make necessary but unpopular decisions for the good of the future, it would be Mitch Daniels.

Chris Douglas | October 6, 2006 3:12 PM

Wilson, exchanges on blogs often remind me of the old saw: "Don't wrestle with a pig, because while you're getting covered with ____, the pig is enjoying itself." I don't mean to equate you with a pig, but you get the idea. I know you enjoy engaging in an exchange of good jibes.

I will respond to one point, though. I've spoken with Eric Dickerson on and off for many months, always cordial, while remaining silent in communicating an opinion to the gay community. My criteria for relaying information to the community has always been what is a candidate's commitment to some form of policy progress. Because I have almost always found people in my personal life, Republican and Democrat alike, to be courteous and respectful, not being called faggot has never been an adequate basis for engagement. Policy progress has always been the minimum.

My observation when I entered the fray 10 years ago was the reverse of yours, namely, that many in the gay community seemed to accept and support politicians who were merely courteous to them at fundraisers, but who did nothing to move the ball forward. Mostly, these were Democratic politicians. I approached the Republican side in a much more demanding way: "Courtesy is a human minimum without which we would not be speaking. My Republican parents, friends, minister, and political connections already treat me with great courtesy. The question is: what are you prepared to do not for me, but for the glbt community as an occupant of public office?"

When the answer to that question is a good one, then it becomes important for everyone to know it, for it sets or builds upon precedent and strengthens our hand.

Eric Dickerson and Julia Carson finally appeared together on the same stage Sunday evening. The visual picture was reminiscent of the 1960 Kennedy/ Nixon debate!

Before a word was spoken I was concerned about Carson's ability to get through the Q&A session--let alone another congressional term! She looked like she was about to die! She was wearing two different shoes - one white Nike tennis shoe and one dress shoe as she hobbled onto the stage. When she wasn't being asked a question she would often stare off into space. She made the late Senator Strom Thurmond look like a spring chicken!

If she gave exceptionally sharp or bright answers perhaps the physical health issues could be overlooked. However she answered several questions with single word answers and she mistakenly answered a question about disposing of nuclear waste by saying, "I don't think anybody is for the Atomic Bomb, Connie"

Her answers to questions lacked the thought and detail that you would expect from a congressional leader. I couldn't help but wonder how she had been in office for so long? How did she plan accomplish the goals she described about and why wasn't she talking about anything she had actually done?

Dickerson was shaking hands and talking to people before and after the event. Carson came in only moments before the session began and left immediately afterward.

Julia Carson is a sweet woman and she'd probably enjoy playing cards with my grandmother but she's an embarrassment for the city, district and state that she represents.