I didn’t watch, only followed it on Twitter, and Twitter is no way to get the news, but did Bruce Jenner come out as a transwoman and a typical rich Republican ladder-puller in the same interview?
People in my Twitter feed expressed surprise---and some disgust---at Jenner’s declaration that he votes, essentially, to deny full citizenship, even full personhood, to people like himself and to take rights away from them. Although more Republicans and conservatives are coming around, for the entirety of Jenner’s adult life, which means all the while he was hiding afraid and ashamed in the closet, Republicans have been actively hostile to the LGBT community. I can imagine that Jenner might have told people he was a Republican as a part of his disguise. He wouldn’t be the first person with a secret who pretended contempt for people making no secret of their being what he doesn’t want anyone else to know he is. But it’s harder to accept that he truly believed in making life miserable for people like himself.
On the other hand, having to struggle with troubles doesn’t necessarily make someone sympathetic to others struggling with the same troubles any more than being lucky and free from certain worries and cares makes you unsympathetic to people who aren’t so lucky. Sure, there are plenty of rich, entitled, spoiled Republicans born to comfort and privilege who make a show and a virtue of lecturing the poor and unfortunate on how to fend for themselves the way those rich and entitled politicians never had to fend for themselves---Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Mitt Romney, et al---but then there was FDR and the Kennedys.
The question is, how much of his heart was in the way he claims to have voted? How true a Republican was (and is) Jenner really?
Apparently Jenner was much more articulate in explaining his gender identity and his feelings about being a transperson than he was trying to explain away his politics. His idea of what it means to be a Republican and a conservative includes, he said, believing in the Constitution and he believes in it! As if believing in the Constitution was like believing the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ.
Not only did Jenner come out as a Republican, he came out as a stupid Republican. But I repeat myself.
What does that mean? You believe in the Constitution? Isn’t that like saying, as Terry Pratchett says of the wizards of Discworld’s “belief” in the gods, that you believe in tables? It’s an utterly meaningless statement and Republicans who say it don’t mean anything by it except “I’m a Republican.” It’s a signifier. It identifies you as a member of the club, like wearing a flag pin or a cross or team jersey. To the degree it has an actual meaning that meaning is this:
“The Constitution is ours because the country is ours. Whatever’s in it---both the Constitution and the country---belongs exclusively to us.”
Ideally, Jenner’s coming out will give hope and courage to other transpeople and open the minds and hearts of non-transpeople, including some Republicans. Also ideally, now that he no longer has to pretend to be a “normal” man or a man at all, Jenner will also come out as a champion and advocate for not just transpeople but people who don’t meet conservative definitions of “normal” in general. He will openly deplore and reject the Republicans’ Othering of so many of their fellow Americans and the conservatives’ politics of “us” against “THEM!”
Maybe he did that last night. Like I said. All I know is what I read on the Twitter, and Twitter’s no way to get the news.
But here’s the concern.
Besides being surprised and disappointed and even angry at learning Jenner’s a Republican, some people in the feed smugly expressed their expectation that now that other Republicans know they’ll turn on Jenner and cast him from the fold.
These people are forgetting how much being rich matters to Republicans, and that might include Jenner himself.
All these years Jenner might have been voting to protect his money over the needs his own heart and soul.
But, of course, having money is a way to take care of those needs yourself. If money doesn’t buy happiness, it can buy you the freedom not to have to worry about certain things you’re all too willing and happy to let other people have to worry about for themselves.
And that’s the mark of a true Republican these days, isn’t it? The certain belief that you are entitled to all the privileges, status, wealth, and freedom you can buy and other people can just go suff.