The Right response

The Right response

September 12th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Free Press editorial page editor Drew Johnson occasionally replies to questions and issues raised in emails, letters to the editor and online comments in response to Free Press editorials. Submit questions on Twitter: @Drews_Views

How could you, as the editor of the conservative editorial page, commend District 7 City Council candidate Chris Anderson for stating publicly that he's gay?

An individual's sexuality is neither commendable nor deplorable. It just is. Sexuality is not distinct from gender or race in that regard.

Just as it's noteworthy and courageous when someone is the first person of his or her race or gender to do something, it's noteworthy and courageous when someone is the first openly gay person to do something. Don't get me wrong, I am not equating Chris Anderson's city council campaign to Jackie Robinson or Amelia Earhart. But in his own way, he can inspire gay individuals locally and that is commendable. Also commendable is his willingness to be forthright about his sexuality in a part of the country not exactly known for open-mindedness or its embrace of civil rights.

My single biggest fear as a conservative is that conservatives and Republicans will continue to condemn and disparage gay Americans. As more and more people become accepting of homosexuality -- or simply don't care what people do in their private lives and don't believe government should, either -- the anti-gay sentiment associated with the Republican Party will make the GOP less palatable to an ever-growing number of voters.

In 50 years, history will recall current attempts to limit the rights and silence the voices of gay individuals with all of the shame, sorrow and disgust now associated with segregation. That makes the pushback I received after writing my editorial applauding Anderson's bravery -- and, much more troubling, any condemnation that Anderson faces because of his sexuality -- both sad and embarrassing.

If you believe that in order to be a conservative, it is necessary to judge people for being different or criticize people for what they do in their private lives, I can assure you that my editorials will frequently disappoint. That isn't what conservatism means to me.

Your editorial, "The Romney dilemma," was misplaced. It should have been on the Times editorial page. Can I assume that the right side of the editorial page is morphing into a Democrat shill sheet?

This has been the most unexpected response to anything I've written in my short time at the Times Free Press. I anticipated that Romney supporters (the few of them that actually exist and don't just view him as the lesser of two evils) and Republicans who are not particularly principled would be upset that I argued the Republican Party would be better served in the long run if Romney lost. What I did not expect was to be attacked for being liberal or a mouthpiece for Democrats.

It seems to be lost on critics of the piece that I was making an argument that was to the right of Romney and the Republican Party. I guess being a principled conservative actually makes you a liberal. Who knew?

Romney is, judging by his record as Massachusetts governor, not particularly conservative. After all, he was responsible for hiking a number of fees and installing the forerunner of Obamacare.

Given Romney's lack of commitment to free market principles and the number of very appealing conservatives that could emerge as Republican presidential candidates in 2016 (to run against what is stacking up to be a very weak bench of possible candidates for Democrats), my argument was that it would be best for Republicans if Romney lost, Congressional gridlock to stall Obama's proposals and a better choice emerged next time around. That was unless Romney was willing -- and had the votes in Congress -- to overturn Obamacare.

On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that Romney admitted that he has no intention of pushing for an across the board repeal of Obama-care. In my view, that takes away the only reason conservatives have to vote for Romney (and not just against Obama).

If elected, I predict that Romney's comfort with big government and his lack of interest in market-based entitlement reforms would ultimately produce none of the benefits that conservatives want from a president. As a result of Romney's likely failures, the Republican brand would be tarnished and less appealing to voters in future elections.

I admit that my editorial glossed over one vital aspect of the next presidential term. Over the next four years, it is likely the president will select three, perhaps even four -- Supreme Court Justices.

That fact alone makes me reconsider my argument. Still, it doesn't say much for the Republican candidate when the only benefit of his possible election is that it would prevent the other guy from appointing any more Justices to the Supreme Court. Doesn't exactly make you excited to run out and vote, does it?

I just read your 9/11 article, "9/11's legacy of lost liberty." Do you seriously believe the government's reaction to 9/11 was more damaging to America than the terrorist attacks?


You are often critical of Republicans. Aren't you afraid that you'll cause people to vote for Obama?

As the editor of the Free Press editorial page, my job isn't to be a mouthpiece or apologist for the Republican Party. My goal is to advance and defend free market, conservative, limited government ideals. It is important to remember that not all Republicans, or Republican ideas, embrace those principles.

I am no fan of Obama. In fact, by my count, since taking over as the editor of this page in late June, I've published 27 different editorials that were critical of Obama for attacking free enterprise, trampling the Constitution, expanding the scope of government, wasting tax dollars and committing any number of other progressive, big government sins. It's only fair that I hold Republicans accountable when they make the same mistakes -- especially since, unlike Obama, they actually claim to defend conservative principles.