This is about as encouraging an interview as I've seen from a conservative lawmaker in some time. Former senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) took to MSNBC's "Hardball" on Monday to air his grievances over the state of the Republican party with host Chris Matthews. Simpson roundly condemned his party's increasingly extreme stance on social issues including reproductive rights and homosexuality. From the interview:
"Who the hell is for abortion? I don't know anybody running around with a sign that says, have an abortion, they're wonderful. They're hideous. But they're a deeply intimate and personal decision, and I don't think men legislators should even vote on the issue.
Then you've got homosexuality. You've got 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' We have homophobes in our party. That's disgusting to me. We're all human beings. We're all God's children. ... [Former Pennsylvania senator Rick] Santorum has said some cruel things, cruel, cruel things about homosexuals. Ask him about it. See if he attributes the cruelness of his remarks years ago. Foul."
Simpson pulled no punches in his scorn for the emerging field of 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls:
"That's the kind of guys that are going to be on my ticket, you know, makes you sort out hard what Reagan said, you know, 'stick with your folks.'But I'm not sticking with people who are homophobic, anti-women, you know, moral values while you're diddling your secretary while you're giving a speech on moral values. Come on. Get off of it."
In past articles, we've described the need to hold the contemporary conservative movement accountable for its increasingly extreme, dehumanizing social policy expressions, and former Sen. Simpson's remarks display this process in full effect. In terms of public perception, it comes down to an issue of branding, and as the conservative brand becomes increasingly and inextricably bound with blatant homophobia and anti-women rhetoric and policies, it will become increasingly uncomfortable inside Reagan's "Big Tent" for more socially moderate conservatives. As Simpson's remarks illustrate, it is already becoming more difficult for conservatives of the less extreme persuasion to toe the party line in light of the disgusting rhetoric coming from their peers. Progressives and liberals must continue to hold the Republican/conservative brand accountable for their vitriol, and help shift public opinion away from such wanton disregard for the rights and dignity of these vulnerable groups.
h/t Huffington Post