Savage Politics

Our sex-columnist-turned-political-trash-talker is coming here from Seattle to make sure Santorum gets whipped but good.

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 4, 2006

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In the fight against Santorum, then, field has a broader purpose: making people aware of the issues, and getting them politically engaged.

"We're building relationships in order to get as many volunteers as possible to stick around to fight for the next election and the next issue," says Murphy. "For the long term, people who want to make Philadelphia a more progressive city are going to have to be patient and learn to savor victory and live with losing. The war won't be won until there are good-paying jobs, quality public education, healthcare, green spaces, decent public transit and safe neighborhoods in every part of the city--not just an elite few."

Kiss of life: With a pro-Santorum protester in the background, two gay men make PDA a political statement.
Frankly, while Ray Murphy was refining this locally centered political philosophy, Dan Savage wasn't really thinking about Philadelphia. Despite Murphy's repeated attempts to lure him here, Savage didn't respond to him for some time.

"We bugged the hell out of Savage," says Murphy. "Me and a number of our other members in the early, early days of this project--like back in December and January of last year--we would kind of get bored. If something else wasn't working or you just had nothing to do, you'd just go, 'Let me just send an email to Savage to remind him to get involved with Philadelphians Against Santorum.'"

But it wasn't until Savage sent Casey a donation--and Casey sent it back--that it became clear to Savage he'd have to find a new beneficiary of his largesse.

Savage says, "I sent Casey $2,000, and they cashed the check. They invited me to a Casey fundraiser here in Seattle so I could meet him. They knew who I was--the check was from Savage Love, which is just me. They sent it back and told me I was offensive, and Casey told one of the newspapers he wanted to strike a blow for civil discourse, which is just the sort of pansy-ass horseshit coming out of Democrats' mouths that you never hear coming out of Republicans' mouths."

It comes back, says Savage, to the idea of civility--the same civility that keeps worries about the children at the forefront of left-leaning minds.

"Republicans aren't civil," says Savage. "What they did to Max Cleland wasn't civil. What they did to John Kerry with those bandages at the Republican National Convention with purple hearts on them wasn't civil. Democrats shouldn't be so concerned about fucking civility.

"Why does Casey think civility is so freaking important when it comes to dealing with these assholes? He should've cashed the check and told Rick Santorum that if he was offended by him taking that money, he should try to work harder at not offending every goddamn person in the country, and then comb through Santorum's cash to find equally offensive people who said equally offensive things."

Savage wrote about the episode in his column, which again drew the attention of PAS. By this time Murphy and co. had sent about 150 emails to PAS supporters saying, "Savage is looking to give away some money. Send him a personal email and tell him just why you think our project's so important."

"We didn't hear anything for like a month," says Murphy, "and then I just kinda got this random email from him. Maybe he thought, 'These wackos in Philly keep emailing me. They have a good name. I'll give the money to them.'"

Savage thinks it was a mistake for the Casey campaign to return the money. "Look what happened. They sent me the check back because they were afraid it would get in the newspapers, and they'd have to spend staff time discussing my donation," Savage says. "And then they had to spend staff time discussing my donation because it in fact got in the newspapers. Their fears were realized because of what they did. It was just stupid."

Two fisted: Activist Jen Murphy is both chair of Philly for Change and assistant director of PAS.
Though Savage obviously has plenty of criticisms of Casey, he doesn't think this election is the time for Democrats to work through their collective angst about the politician's deficiencies.

"I don't like his positions on certain issues that are very near and dear to me, but I like Rick Santorum's a whole fucking lot less. Someone who's less offensive to me is less offensive to me. The lesser of two evils is the lesser of two evils. You'd think the last six years would've taught [the left] to be extremely motivated--not to just go to the polls, but to talk our really stupid moronic friends out of doing really stupid moronic things like voting for Ralph Nader or pouting because Casey isn't perfect."

Talk like that has drawn fire from feminist pro-choice quarters, but Savage counters, "My defense--besides getting Casey in there and getting a Democratic majority in the Senate--is that [Casey's win would] result in a lot more pro-choice action out of the Senate despite Casey's personal position. There's also that he's terrible on gay issues. It's not like I'm selling women down the river. I'm throwing myself down the river too."

Murphy would prefer not to put it so baldly, certainly, but the two agree that politics is a gradual process, and a revolution simply isn't at hand. Which is why Savage Love Live is needed.

"Politics isn't always exciting, and it's not only boring to some people but distasteful," says Murphy. "It feels like something that's dirty, is full of folks who say whatever they have to say to get elected. So we figured if Dan Savage came and did Savage Love Live, we could make things a bit more comfortable for them. What we're hoping to get out of this is people who are gonna come out to see Savage, and they'll stay to make progressive change in Philadelphia afterward."

As for Savage, Philly is, he points out, "a fucking long haul" from Seattle. But he doesn't see a choice.

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