THE BLOG
03/20/2006 05:19 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Take Your Campaign Advice From Republicans

I almost gave up today. I've been hosting fundraisers in San Francisco for progressive house candidates running in 2006. I came across a conservative blog (I'm not going to link to it) that had taken issue with one of the candidates accepting money from me. Their reason, an article I wrote for the Huffington Post defending the rights of the S&M and transgender community. The blog posting referred to the "sick" and "weird" people supporting the candidate. As if racism and prejudice weren't sick.

You have to understand. I'm getting ready to launch my own PAC in early April (LitPAC, keep your eyes open for it). I intend to raise $75,000 and register thousands of young voters at readings this year. A drop in the bucket but probably the best I can do. I'm moving slowly from writing into politics and this was the first time my public persona came up against my political persona. It doesn't help that I have a book of S&M erotica coming out in September this year (a good one, I might add, with a very sexy cover). I wanted to help these candidates, not be a burden.

My first reaction was to take down my post. But then I reread what I had written. Did I still believe it? I did. So why was I letting the right wing set my priorities for me? I realized what I was doing. I was doing what Democrats always do, setting aside my ideals in order get elected. It's a mistake.

Republicans don't do this. Republicans like Dick Cheney regularly appear with Rush Limbaugh, a known drug addict. Republicans don't hesitate to accept Bill O'Reilly's support, even though he advocates al-Qaeda attacking San Francisco. Republicans don't apologize for the racists that support them on the radio or the racists running as Republicans for congress. And they have no problem getting behind Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth", even after their claims have long been discredited. In other words, Republicans are morally bankrupt, why would I worry how they feel about my sexuality and the way I express myself?

We're not going to win these elections by turning our backs on our beliefs or not having any. I support gay rights, sexual freedom, freedom of expression. I am against the Patriot Act, censorship, and in favor of censure. Like anyone who pays attention to the news I know that the President and the Vice President lied to us. I am against illegal wiretaps, spying on American citizens, torture, secret prisons. I am in favor of freedom, inalienable rights, separation of church and state. I am not going to pretend to be something I am not in hopes of electing my candidates. I am not going to vote for candidates who act conservative and hope they will actually be liberals. I will not pretend that things are going well in Iraq, that the economy is great. I will not tack right hoping to tack left later. And the politicians that want to work with me don't have to agree with me on everything and I don't have to agree with them on everything, but I am not going to turn my back on my values.

Arianna told me when I interviewed her for Esquire last year that politics is about building consensus, not taking polls. Sitting on a couch with Arianna it's pretty hard not to agree with everything she says. And I would add to the idea of building consensus something Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Mother Night, his beautiful novel about a spy working as a Nazi radio host during World War II - We must be careful who we pretend to be. Because we are who we pretend to be.

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Stephen Elliott is the founder of the Progressive Reading Series and the author of Looking Forward To It: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The American Electoral Process