Openly gay GOP candidate Fred Karger is running a real presidential campaign and attracting followers. He is crisscrossing the cornfields of Iowa and shaking hands in the small villages of New Hampshire. Yet, his much-needed voice is being stifled by the Republican establishment and cable network honchos that did not let him debate. The argument has been that only viable candidates have access to the big stage, to avoid overcrowding. After all, if everyone who wanted to declare themselves a candidate was given the podium, it would become chaotic and drown out real presidential prospects.
However, this argument falls flat when one looks at the polling. In a new Harris Interactive Poll, 2-percent of voters said they intended to vote for Karger, which ties Newt Gingrich and outpaces Rick Santorum. So, why not give Karger a chance to debate? The far-right voices of Gingrich, Pawlenty and Santorum are redundant. It would be more of a real debate if a fresh voice, such as Karger, were allowed to participate and show that the GOP is not one-dimensional. Unfortunately, Fox News – which was hosting the debate – decided to freeze out Karger:
“In spite of meeting all its debate criteria, Fox News still refuses to allow me a place on the stage in Ames, Iowa this Thursday evening,” said Karger in a statement. “By not including me, even though I have qualified for the debate, Fox News appears to be in violation of Federal Election Commission rules governing all Presidential Debates. Fox released its debate criteria two weeks ago, which I clearly have met.”
Well, Fox made their final decision and as we all know Karger nowhere near the debate stage.
So, I must ask, what is the GOP establishment so afraid of? Can they be afraid that Michelle Bachmann may look like a bigot in the headlights when asked to defend her position on gay rights. Are they afraid Rick Santorum may spout an extremist anti-gay sentiment about marriage that exposes the GOP as out of current mainstream thinking.
Are they afraid the that the Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, will be depicted as the
Pro-gay/anti gay flip-flopper that he has proven to be time and again depending what audience he is speaking to. Are they afraid that Newt will be seen as the mean anti-gay and Pawlenty (although he has already dropped out) soft spoken anti-gay like a radical version of good cop bad cop. Or, are they simply afraid that by looking at the group as a whole next to a gay man that they will look like the anti-gay bullies that they are.
Karger has the chops. He is not new to politics. And, he has been a Republican working for Republicans as a campaign advisor and election stategist for over three decades. Karger could bring about a new, open and honest dialogue in Republican spheres that the GOP public might be interested in hearing. And, maybe some conservatives who are put off by the hard-line “social conservatives” might feel more comfortable with values that are more inclusive.
There are going to be more debates before this election cycle is over and a candidate is finally chosen. The stage will be different each time as others, like Pawlenty, drop by the wayside. So, why not open up to a contrasting point of view that may give the Republican Party a bigger umbrella …. and let Fred debate!
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”