The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Another GOP Financial Backer Cuts Across Stereotypes

In August, Via Meadia called attention to a prominent conservative donor and high-level backer of the Romney campaign who is also a proponent of same-sex marriage. Now there’s another one, and you may have heard his name mentioned during the campaign. The WSJ is out with an interview with the biggest, and perhaps most well-known, Republican donor from last year: Sheldon Adelson. In the interview, he suggests some decidedly non-traditional GOP policy:

“Look, I’m basically a social liberal, I know nobody will believe that,” Mr. Adelson said, as Dr. Adelson [his wife] nodded.

“Number one, I’m supporting stem-cell research,” he said, pointing to a chart of the new Adelson medical research foundation that is funding some stem-cell based science.

“I’m pro choice,” he said.  Republicans are pro-life, but he and his wife are not pro-life in politics, he said.

“You can take your own religious beliefs . . . and live your life with your own beliefs. But to make it a portion of the government’s policies?” He shook his head.

Adelson goes on to voice support for the pro-immigration DREAM Act, and for nationalized healthcare.

Via Meadia is glad to see more stories like these. This interview serves a much greater function than proffering another advocate for this or that cause: it debunks the media stereotype of liberals versus conservatives in an endless war of political orthodoxy. Mr. Adelson, a staunch fiscal and foreign policy conservative, doesn’t approve of illegal immigration, but thinks it “inhumane” to deport those already here. He disproves of the Affordable Care Act but has been influenced by his religion and the health care models of other countries to support a nationalized system. In his own words, “Look, nobody agrees with 100% of their planks.” Politics, as it turns out, is as complicated as the rest of life.

No doubt some conservatives will be angered to see their man endorse liberal principles. No doubt some liberals will be angered to see that a man who shares so many of their values gives so much money to the party that opposes them. But this story is a good one: the ideological purity of the Grover Norquist variety is ultimately less helpful to a democracy than the cross currents of an Adelson.

Compromise would be impossible without some heterogeneity in our parties. We’ll do our best to continue showing that such variety exists.

Published on December 6, 2012 12:29 pm