Yesterday I attended the Alaska Pride Conference, an annual event sponsored by Identity, Inc. My main reason for attending this year came out of my involvement with the Alaska LGBT Community Survey; but I also got the opportunity to hear firsthand from two of the candidates for U.S. Senate, Frederick David Haase of the Alaska Libertarian Party and Scott McAdams of the Alaska Democratic Party. Conference organizers invited all U.S. Senate candidates, but neither Republican Party of Alaska candidate — official candidate Joe Miller and incumbent and write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski — accepted the invitation.
Which fit in pretty well with what has become obvious: Republican officials and candidates care little about the the issues of concern to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. Whereas Democrats, despite sometimes spotty records, do. Thus, this year’s Pride march in Anchorage saw the enthusiastic participation of two Democratic gubernatorial candidates (Hollis French and eventual primary winner Ethan Berkowitz) and Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Diane Benson… but nary a Republican candidate was to be seen. (No Libertarians that I can recall, either.)
Which goes far to explain why I, registered as nonpartisan, almost always vote for Democrats.
I kinda wondered about this year’s U.S. Senate race, though. After all, if there’s one thing that Alaska does not need, it’s a U.S. Senator named Joe Miller. Some undoubtedly will argue with me on that point, but I doubt they read this blog; and those who do, I trust to already know just why that is without me having to explain it further.
And so if we don’t want Joe Miller, what do we do? There’s a lot of people telling us that between Lisa Murkowski & Scott McAdams, Murkowski has a better chance of beating Miller, so we should vote for her. After all, even though, based on her voting record, Murkowski doesn’t give anymore of a squat about equality under the law for LGBT Americans than Miller does, & has veered increasingly rightwards even as the Republican Party itself has in order to pander to Tea Party and other right-wing extremists — well, at least she still retains some kind of foothold in consensual reality and real (as opposed to Joe Miller’s fancied) constitutional standards. If Scott McAdams can’t beat her and Joe Miller both, well… might those be right who say it’s safer to vote for her? And as I’ve watched conflicting polls & conflicting arguments, I’ve wondered.
Now that I’ve heard Scott McAdams in person, I wonder no more. He is clearly the candidate of choice for LGBTA Alaskans.
Not only that: he has a damn good chance of winning. Especially if moderate & progressive Alaskans don’t dilute his vote by making the mistake of writing in Lisa Murkowski. Even supposing you can remember to spell her name right.
Frederick David Haase, Alaska Libertarian Party
I will give Frederick David Haase credit for having accepted the conference organizers’ invitation to the Pride Conference, indicating at least some respect for LGBT Alaskans.
But I can’t say he had much success in befriending many of us. As a Libertarian, he respects the sovereignty of the individual, but showed little understanding of issues important to LGBT Alaskans — advising us, for example, to give up on hate crimes legislation on the basis that the lives of LGBT people (as in cases of homicide) are neither more nor less valuable than those of non-LGBT people. A man who murders his wife, for example, might be fueled by hate just as much as someone who commits a “hate” crime. Well, okay — but that completely misses the point that hate crimes are directed at people merely for having certain personal characteristics. Case in point: transgendered people, who are estimated to be murdered at rates as much as 17 times higher than those of the general U.S. population, merely for being transgendered. Mr. Haase unfortunately showed no inclination to understand LGBT issues at any deeper level than that we had a right to our “lifestyles,” making him as a candidate only slightly less objectionable than the Republican candidates.
Aside from that, he has no chance of winning. I hope that he will learn to make a better effort to learn at least something about the needs of people unlike himself, before asking them to support him.
Scott McAdams, Alaska Democratic Party
McAdams began with the message: “Vote your values, not your fears.” The fears he referred to were those I’ve already mentioned: that by voting for him, rather than Lisa Murkowski, we’d be handing the election to Joe Miller. Making reference to Murkowski’s “spelling lessons” — the political ads telling voters who wished to write her in how to spell her name — McAdams instead chose to present a math lesson: for Miller to win the election, he said, Miller would need only one vote more than either of his opponents. For McAdams to win, he only needs one more vote than either Miller or Murkowski. But due to the large margin of error that comes with the territory of write-in candidacies, Murkowski would need a great many more votes. Moving from math to history, McAdams then took us through the three Alaska elections of the past where candidates, some of them extremely popular, were forced to conduct write-in campaigns. In no case did they come even close to winning — not even Wally Hickel when he mailed every registered voter in the state stickers bearing his name, that in that time (unlike now) voters were permitted to bring into the voting booth with them.
Since hearing McAdams’ speech, I’ve also watched the video from Shannyn Moore’s TV program “Moore up North” in which Tom Begich presented the same math and history lesson. Here it is: why Lisa Murkowski has very little chance of winning.
But if in fact he does win, what does Scott McAdams have to offer LGBTA voters? He told us that if he is elected, he will sign on as cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and as a cosponsor of a bill to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). He also registered his unequivocal support for other federal legislation which advance equality under the law for LGBT citizens, such as repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA; extended to cover same-sex couples by Pres. Obama).
(Sen. Murkowski missed the roll call vote to repeal DADT on September 21 — a repeal which failed in any case due to Republican obstructionism — and has failed to register support for other legislation which would extend equal rights to LGBT citizens, although she did vote in favor of hate crimes legislation earlier this year.)
I was also impressed by McAdams’ stands on other issues. One that especially stood out for me. One audience member noted that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world — what does McAdams think we should we do about it? McAdams’ answer: invest more in early childhood education as well as drug treatment for drug/alcohol-involved offenders. His answer squares completely with all I’ve learned over 20 years at the UAA Justice Center creating I don’t know how many tables & charts on the U.S.’s ever-expanding correctional populations — increased largely fueled since the mid-1980s by the Reagan-initiated “War on Drugs.” Simultaneously, we’ve been failing our teachers and educational system &, ultimately, our children, letting too many of them instead grow up into lives of desperation in which they turn to alcohol, drugs, and crime. I’ve long since concluded that many Americans would rather spend large chunks of state & federal budgets on putting people in prison, than by paying more than simple lip service to the importance of children by fully funding schools and otherwise helping children develop skills & self-confidence & providing them with opportunities so that they don’t turn to — guess what — drugs, alcohol, & crime. And helping people who do get mixed up with drugs & alcohol to throw off their addictions before they go too far. When McAdams said what he said, I knew he understood this too. His answers also fit with with what justice practitioners are increasingly saying & trying to convince lawmakers to permit them to do — including the Alaska Court System with its increasing use of drug and alcohol and other therapeutic courts.
What sealed it for me was when McAdams said “Sovereignty begins with the individual. Freedom begins with the individual.” Most LGBT people spend a good part of their lives fending off the violative behavior of those who insist that we are supposed to be something other than who and what we are: attacking our sovereignty and freedom at our very cores. When McAdams said that, I knew that he & I see eye-to-eye: & that he respects, in a way I’ve seldom seen expressed by any non-LGBT political candidate, the integrity of who we are as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Aside from that, he was also very personable, and has a great sense of humor. I really really really like this guy.
Learn more about him at his website, and also see the other three segments of the October 9 “Moore Up North” featuring an in-depth interview with him: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4. (Part 1 was the portion with Tom Begich already embedded above.)
I urge all LGBT people, and all our allies who care about LGBT equality, to vote Scott McAdams for the U.S. Senate. For us, and for Alaska.
P.S. Happy birthday, Scott.
P.P.S. Another reason not to vote for Lisa Murkowski: her obsequious tribute to the Anchorage Baptist Temple’s Jerry Prevo, Minister of Homophobia — see John Aronno’s post with video at Alaska Commons, where John asks, “How hard are you willing to hold your nose to make it palatable to vote against your values?”