Politics has always been confusing business, rife with contradictions, but lately — when it comes to the Democratic party and policies that impact gay & lesbian families — it’s starting to turn me into something of a dizzy queen. Or at least dizzier than usual. And this today is Blogging for Gay & Lesbian Families Day and follows on the heels of some interesting political developments, it seemed appropriate to step back into the maelstrom.
Bring the Dramamine.
It started yesterday, when I received via email a link to Howie Klein’s Huffington Post piece about HRC’s incredibly daft endorsement of Joe Lieberman.
Because I was lucky enough to have had something of a reputation as an enlightened corporate leader for several years, my mantle is filled with awards from progressive public advocacy groups like the ACLU, GLAAD, People For the American Way and HRC. Actually my mantle used to have an HRC award on it.
But a little over a week ago, just as the National Organization For Women (NOW), DFA and MoveOn.org were bravely stepping forward to say they would no longer support Democrats who have taken their constituencies for granted and have voted in support of bigoted nominees and who have consistently sent mixed signals on hate-issues– two glaring problems between Lieberman and the GLBT community– HRC endorsed Lieberman over clear, enlightened, unambiguously progressive and pro-gay Ned Lamont. So I took the award down and put it in a box where no one– including, or especially, myself– will see it.
I won’t go into Lieberman’s deficit on gay issues, since other bloggers have covered that territory very well (Pam among them). And I agree with Parachutec at Firedoglake that Ned Lamont — Lieberman’s challenger — deserves enthusiastic GLBT support. But I got an acute case of whiplash when I noticed that Kos linked to Parachutec’s post. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Like I said, I agree that HRC’s move is nearly inexplicable. But I had to chuckle when I remembered something Kos said a while back about “one-issue” groups like HRC.
You know, nothing says they have to endorse an anti-abortion Democrat, but clearly they don’t understand that good politics — turning the Senate Democratic is far more beneficial for their issue (women rights) than anything the Republicans can muster.
Until NARAL (and the rest of the single-issue groups) understand that building a movement is more beneficial to their causes than singular devotion to their pet causes, I can’t take them seriously.
So, is Kos now applauding NARAL, as Klein does, for no longer supporting Dems who abandon their constituents to court the conservative vote? There’s an irony here. After all, keeping Lieberman in the Senate would theoretically keep the Senate Democratic (I understand Lieberman is totally a DINO), even if it wouldn’t exactly push forward the issues HRC allegedly advocates for. And if there weren’t a gay-friendly Democratic challenger in the picture, the setting was a general election, Kos and others might actually cheer a move like HRC’s endorsement of Lieberman; definitely if there was a remotely gay-friendly Republican challenger that HRC didn’t endorse. Then HRC would be seen as “taking one for the team” or, as I put it earlier, getting shafted for the greater good.
That certainly seems to be the general opinion of the netroots rank and file. Under different circumstances, gays and organizations like HRC and NARAL might be expected to support or at least not oppose a right leaning Dem in a particular race. Not long ago Matt Stoller over at MyDD asked what’s the Democrats strategy on gay issues. And I noted the general tone of the comments was that if Democrats have to kick gay constituents to the curb in order to get back into power, so be it.
I encountered the same thing when I posted on my DailyKos diary about my dismay over Dean’s appearance on the 700 Club: if it gets Dems back into power, so be it. And the encouragements to “stay and fight” suggested to me that perhaps I’d come to find myself in the same position I found so amusing when gay Republicans assumed it; if not the same position, then one mighty close to it, like two stuck-together pages of a political Kama Sutra.
And it appears that we’re going to be in that political position (face down, in the pillow?) for at least the next election cycle. It looks like Dean will make another 700 Club appearance in the near future. Meanwhile the Dems are trotting out Andy Tobias to assure us that it’s all for the best.
And maybe it is depending on your point of view.
One of the key problems with the Democratic Party is that single issue groups have hijacked it for their pet causes. So suddenly, Democrats are the party of abortion, of gun control, of spottend owls, of labor, of trial lawyers, etc, etc., et-frickin’-cetera. We don’t stand for any ideals, we stand for specific causes. We don’t have a core philosophy, we have a list with boxes to check off.
… We have confused groups that are natural allies of the Democratic Party for the party itself. And the party has ceded way too much power, way too much control, to those single issue groups.
Politics, then, is about what’s winnable moreso than what’s right. And if the latter is over powered by the former, as it usually is, it gets short shrift until such a time as it magically becomes winnable. In that sense, perhaps HRC did the right thing by endorsing a Democratic incumbent who — by nature of being an incumbent — is a better bet to actually fill a seat in the Senate. Mind you, that’s not what I think. But if what’s winnable trumps what’s right — if winning justifies putting some values on the back burner — then it’s a short walk from there to an organization like HRC endorsing a guy like Joe Lieberman.
So the Dems will go round and round, running from their constituents and their values, chasing after conservative votes. And. HRC was wrong, but right, yet also wrong all at the same time, if you think about it. But thinking about it makes me dizzy. Got that Dramamine handy?