The mid-term elections are now just under a month away. LGBT people are, understandably, frustrated with the slow progress of things like DADT repeal, ENDA, and the continued reticence among elected Democrats when it comes to supporting the now very mainstream position of marriage equality. I agree with those who feel betrayed by leaders whose greatest weakness, I believe, is their utter lack of a spine when it comes to taking their own side in a fight.
I also understand why gay donations to Democrats are way down this cycle. But I’ve been hearing a bit of noise from some quarters about gay voters either A. staying home, or B. voting third party in order to “teach the Democrats a lesson.” I understand these sentiments, the lack of motivation that can come when the Democratic party does everything it can to woo gay voters, and then magically forgets about all of that when it comes time to govern.
All of that being said: Letting Republicans take either or both houses of Congress is worse. You know it is. I’ve heard the arguments that to continue voting Democratic is to be pussywhipped by that party, and I agree that it can be, if the wrong lessons are learned. But I can’t imagine any scenario where the right lesson is to cut off your nose to spite your own face. It seems to me that the best choice at this point is to make sure the GOP doesn’t take Congress and then after the November elections, work our asses off to be smarter in our lobbying and in our activism. Smarter does not necessarily mean louder, by the way; loud is good if there is a plan behind it, but it can also seem to the average bystander to be little more than shrill screaming. We may not have gotten as much done with Obama and a Democratic Congress than we would have liked at this point, but we’re certainly further ahead than we would be under a McPalin administration, and we’re certainly going to make more progress in the next Congress if it remains in Democratic hands. How much is an open question, but I’d rather have that than stagnation, or worse, a regression in the fight for equal rights. At least in the first scenario, we aren’t cutting our own power off.
With that in mind, having pissed off some of you while making others happy, I want to highlight two pieces which really drive home where we are, in my opinion. One is recent, and the other is from 2008.
The first comes from StrangeAppar8us at Rumproast, just a couple weeks ago, entitled “Why I Am Abandoning Obama and the Democratic Party Forever.” It’s spectacular, and deserves to be read in its entirety, but I’ll pull a few of the most relevant passages here:
? Notwithstanding the fact that I knew when I voted for him that there was no way out of Iraq and Afghanistan that would not further destabilize Central Asia, enhance Iran’s influence, encourage the collapse of Pakistan, challenge the cohesion of the NATO alliance and invite predictable power-play gambits from India, China and Russia that would totally recast the definitions of “victory” and “defeat,” I am upset that Obama has not brought all the troops home.
? I can’t believe he saved the US auto industry, because nobody cares about US cars or the people who make them.
? PS: Why would Obama not make Gay Marriage and Abortion the centerpiece of his agenda going into a November election where the Dems stand to lose the House and possibly the Senate to Extreme Social Conservatives?
Heh. Yeah. And the other one is truly one of the classics of liberal blogdom, from the 2008 election, when certain liberals were talking about protest voting for Ralph Nader, because the Democrats, quote, “aren’t helping the Left, so why should the Left help them?” Tbogg, that master of wit and sense who blogs in his own happy, sane corner of FireDogLake, replied:
Let me see if I can explain it this way:
Every year in Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land all of the sprites and elves and woodland creatures gather together to pick the Rainbow Sunshine Queen. Everyone is there: the Lollipop Guild, the Star-Twinkle Toddlers, the Sparkly Unicorns, the Cookie Baking Apple-cheeked Grandmothers, the Fluffy Bunny Bund, the Rumbly-Tumbly Pupperoos, the Snowflake Princesses, the Baby Duckies All-In-A-Row, the Laughing Babies, and the Dykes on Bikes. They have a big picnic with cupcakes and gumdrops and pudding pops, stopping only to cast their votes by throwing Magic Wishing Rocks into the Well of Laughter, Comity, and Good Intentions. Afterward they spend the rest of the night dancing and singing and waving glow sticks until dawn when they tumble sleepy-eyed into beds made of the purest and whitest goose down where they dream of angels and clouds of spun sugar.
You don’t live there.
Grow the fuck up.
“The Fluffy Bunny Bund.” I cannot read that without giggling uncontrollably, but it’s so true!
Politics is, unfortunately, a game. That’s the system we have. And we’re not playing it well if we’re seriously considering taking power from a party that is, in many areas, annoying, reticent, and slow, and giving it to a party that is just plain old batshit insane, on all issues, but especially on Our Issues. It does no one any good, and really, our nation is still in a pretty precarious place. I know that American voters on both sides of the aisle have a particular talent for forgetting history beyond ten minutes ago, but it would do us good to remember, on all issues, just how bad things were between 2000 and 2008. By almost every metric, things got worse and worse and worse.
Do the Democrats need to wake the hell up and grow a backbone and all of that? Sure. Do a lot of Democrats suck, in general, due to being basically Conservatives? Sure. We don’t have a Left party in this country, all the moaning and groaning of the Teahadists notwithstanding. We simply don’t. We have a far right insane wingnut party, and we have a centrist party which includes a good number of right-of-center conservatives. So liberals are left sort of underrepresented. But the answer, as usual, is to elect better Democrats; giving the country a couple years of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell is counterproductive, and again, Americans aren’t all that smart. It takes exactly twelve minutes in this country for the GOP to establish a completely fake counter-narrative that takes root in the hearts and minds of people with double-digit IQs from sea to shining sea. This is what happens when one of the parties has a major cable network which is 100% committed to spreading its talking points and calling it “news.”
Feel free to argue with me about this, because I probably agree with a lot of what you’ll say. But on a meta level, from the air — I still see no good reason for gays to stay home this year. Make your displeasure with the Democratic party known in every way short of handing John Boehner the job of Speaker of the House. Absolutely. But it’s election time now, and we have to be grown-ups. If you live in a district where there’s actually a competition going on between the Democrat and the Republican, throw up in your mouth a little bit if you have to, but pull the lever for the Democrat. If you live somewhere that a protest vote or staying at home would be noticeable without being counterproductive, then by all means, go for it. But make sure you know what you’re doing.
It’s all about strategery, to quote a certain infamous American.