The Dangers of Working Publicly With People You Disagree With

A reader brought this article to our attention and added a few comments that we wanted to share (we’ve added a few of our own, too, in italics.)

*Update: reader Charles pointed out--and we later researched--that the dinner was a benefit for Cruz and thus was more directly a support of Cruz's campaign, which changes the calculus of the post, updated below (thanks, Charles!). Time magazine describes it in brief, with two powerful quotes:

1) "The swift backlash from their shared dinner says as much as any tale about our factionalized politics, in which anyone who appears to stray from tribal alliances faces the prospect of excommunication."

2) "in American politics today, what keeps us apart matters more than what brings us together."

A gay hotelier (Ian Reisner) recently invited Ted Cruz to speak at his home with the intent of "having an open political discussion with those who have a differing political opinion." Rather than being applauded, this hotelier was shamed to the point that he issued a public apology to "make up for [his] poor judgement." 

“I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees,” Reisner wrote. “I will try my best to make up for my poor judgment.”

Reisner began his post by writing that he had received numerous emails, phone calls, texts, and messages that prompted him to reconsider his stance on inviting Cruz to his home. He previously stood by the decision, telling The New York Times that “Senator Ted Cruz and I disagree strongly on the issue of gay marriage, but having an open dialogue with those who have differing political opinions is a part of what this country was founded on. My tireless support of the gay community and its causes worldwide hasn’t changed and will not change.”

Ultimately the discussion focused on foreign policy--where Cruz and the hotelier are aligned--though the issue of gay marriage was fielded. After the event, Reisner's hotel faced an immediate boycott and lost a number of fundraising events for having had the conversation with Cruz.

Protestors demanded a boycott of the hotel outside one of its locations, and a Facebook page demanding the boycott has 11,000 supporters.

Something to Consider: while Cruz and Reisner disagree deeply on the issue of gay marriage, the event and discussion suggest that there are other issues they agreed upon. It's likely that no candidate in a presidential election agrees with us on every issue: our positions are complex and nuanced. Why is it that some issues are so emotionally powerful that supporting a candidate that disagrees with one of them is threatening? What makes those issues especially dangerous?


Erik Fogg

We do politics, but we don't do the thinking for you.