The Democratic Party's Good Ol' Boy Club just got a new member; it doesn't hurt he brings along plenty of cold, hard cash with him.
The Daily Beast interviewed evangelical, multimillionaire, religious right leader Howard Ahmanson on his recent decision to switch party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. The man was a leading contributor to the campaign to see Prop. 8 passed in California and has been the solid rock of financial support for Republicans and fundamentalist conservatives for years.
With his switch to the Democratic Party, it seems Ahmanson is looking for greener pastures and a way to make a larger dent in the progress to fulfilling America's greatest promises of liberty and justice; all without changing a single one of his socially conservative views. Time to takeover the Democratic Party? If Ahmanson has his way, yes.
In the Daily Beast interview with Washington Post syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, Ahmanson said the California Republican Party's shift in strategy tempted him to join "the 'enemy' camp."
"This was a particularly local California phenomenon," he told Parker. "A few things on the national level made me nervous, but here, they said, "No new taxes whatsoever no matter what." They were going to make this a touchstone of orthodoxy in the party...I'm afraid I just got extremely frustrated having to read about this day after day after day. This is no longer my party."
His views on homosexuality haven't really changed all that much; accept for the killing and stoning of gays part. Back in 1985, Ahmanson told the Orange County Register that his ultimate political and religious goal was to see "total integration of biblical law into our lives." For years he followed R.J. Rushdoony, a minister who advocated returning to Levitical laws on stoning gays. Despite leaving Rushdoony's church in the 1990s, Ahmanson continued to serve on the pastor's foundation, granting it $1 million over ten years.
He told Parker that some of his views on homosexuality had been products of his "wild youth," but said he thought gays could convert from homosexuality and heterosexuality.
Blah, blah, blah, right? No.
I'm sure a lot of folks will be tempted to throw this guy off as nothing more than a loon. But his money and his influence will beg we pay attention. For those who think the Democratic Party isn't susceptible to an influx of conservative ideals or cash, think again. Off the top of my head, I can think of more than a handful of conservative Democrats in North Carolina alone who'd be more than willing to take his cash and run with Ahmanson's rhetoric.
After Parker's interview went up, an L.A. activist and blogger acquaintance of mine put it this way: Republicans already overwhelmingly support anti-LGBT agendas; Democrats less so. Infusing money into the Republican Party for the purposes of turning it anti-gay is futile; it's already anti-gay. Now, infuse the same load of cash into border-line conservative Democratic districts across rural California, the mid-west and the South, and then we've got a problem.
I, for one, don't necessarily have a problem with "conservative" Democrats. Even some of my views seem conservative and "blue-doggish" when compared to many of my friends who've either grown up in or are now living in places like California, D.C. or New York. But, being conservative doesn't mean being anti-gay.
We'll have to work hard and be vigilant to see that Ahmanson and other conservative Democratic funders don't manhandle their way through our Party and destroy our progressive bases.