Why Trump Appeals To Gay Republicans

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

In the wake of Orlando, a bunch of stories in emerged arguing that Republicans who favor gay rights like Donald Trump. Nobody is arguing that Trump will win with gays, but it certainly seems plausible that he will do better than Mitt Romney.

To be sure, political activists and leaders in the LGBT community will not support him. If sexual orientation defines your identity then the odds are pretty good that Hillary Clinton can count on your vote. But what if you’re also a small business owner, taxpayer, homeowner, father, etc.? Or what if you’re a guy who’d simply prefer not to get blown up by radical Islamists at a nightclub? (For what it’s worth, anecdotally speaking, most of the gay Republicans I know are foreign policy hawks, and they have a special incentive to be “militaristic” when it comes to battling radical Islam.)

There’s an argument about ethnic minorities which basically says that they vote Democratic until they economically reach the middle class. It took until 1980 before Republicans started winning “ethnics” like Italians and the Irish. While not a perfect analogy, isn’t it likely that a lot of average gay Americans will become bourgeois suburbanites now that gay marriage is legal? (I realize that this argument runs contrary to the argument that progressives are never satisfied, but I’m talking about rank and file people here, not agitators or activists. What if Andrew Sullivan was right in 1989?)

So let’s assume that this trend is at least partly true, that—by pushing through gay marriage—liberals inadvertently and ironically removed an issue that favored them. Rather than being forever grateful, some members of the erstwhile victimized group now say, “But what about taxes and national security?”

Enter Donald Trump, who has zero social conservative moorings. There are many reasons why conservatives should be concerned about a guy who lacks a conservative worldview. But being a chameleon is also a political advantage. Donald Trump can now appeal to LGBT Americans in a way that any other generic Republican, brought up in the conservative movement or the GOP—having spoken at various social conservative events like the Value Voters Summit—could never convincingly flip.

Again, I’m not suggesting Trump wins “the gay vote,” just that he might surprisingly (if you don’t consider the aforementioned arguments) outperform Mitt Romney—or any other 2016 Republican. This is yet another example of how he shifts the paradigm and brings about a potential political reordering.

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