Talk of the Town - Conversion therapy April 22 2000

Republican converts in need of prayer

The late, great Frank Zappa once said, "it takes a lot of pressure for people to become Republicans."

Truer words were never spoken. It is an insidious and slow-moving kind of pressure, one that slowly eats away at the brains of otherwise normal people and eventually causes them to dislike anyone who isn't white and to spend time trying to cram a twisted and hateful version of fundamentalist Christianity down everyone's throat.

And the pressure is on lately, especially here in Georgia, where middle-aged white men have been turning Republican in alarming numbers over the last few years. The latest to succumb to the dark side are former Democratic state Senators Steve Langford and Guy Middleton, both of whom are coming off failed attempts at statewide office. The pair became Republicans this year and are now trying to recapture the Senate seats they gave up in their unsuccessful quests for higher office.

Langford, an independent-minded maverick from LaGrange who placed a distant third in the 1998 Democratic Gubernatorial primary, reportedly switched parties after teaming up with the failed presidential campaign of Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain. Middleton, from Dahlonega, claims that the Democratic Party has "left him," whatever that means. Both have moderate political histories, and yet they have abandoned the party that made them leaders and have instead cozied up with the extreme right-wing party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.


God only knows. But this much is certain: Only God can help a legislative Democrat who bails on the party and goes over to the enemy team. Just ask Sen. Sonny Perdue.

The former President Pro Tem of the Senate and a loyal Democrat from Bonaire, Perdue changed parties in 1998 and campaigned vigorously for the Republicans during their quixotic quest to capture the entire legislature. But the foot marksmanship of the party's racist and mean-spirited leadership ended with the Republicans being whipped like dogs in the general election, and Perdue has since been sent to the back bench by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who now runs the state Senate with an iron Democratic hand. Perdue spends most of his days complaining to anyone who will listen that he is being treated unfairly, even though he can blame only himself for his political woes.

This is the sort of exile Langford and Middleton can expect should they prevail in their attempts to win back their old offices. They will be less powerful than if they had elected not to run at all, and they will likely be shuffled off to a sort of living oblivion, where Democratic traitors like Perdue spend their lives wishing they hadn't gambled prematurely on the prospects of Georgia's bumbling GOP.

Such risky schemes only cause heartbreak and political impotence - and that's if the offender manages to get elected. Langford and Middleton have yet accomplished that feat. But if they do, there will be no glory.

Accordingly, as a concerned Democrat, I have decided to try using the same tactic the religious right has begun foisting upon one of their greatest ideological nemeses: the gay community. Utilizing a controversial technique called "conversion therapy," homosexuals are urged to convert back into "normal," heterosexual people, usually through conservative Christian dogma. There's no evidence the bigoted tactic works, but they're still doing it.

In my own brand of conversion therapy, I intend to reach out to those poor, misguided Democrats who have forsaken their moral and political heritage and who are now engaging in an immoral and dangerous Republican lifestyle. I believe that through the power of prayer, these deviants will see the error of their ways and convert back into decent Democratic members of society.

I mean, after all, being a Republican is a "lifestyle choice," is it not?

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