Friday, July 23, 2004

A Better Pie for Everyone

I strongly believe that GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender)Rights will be the political issue for our generation that the Civil Rights movement was to our parent and grandparents. I also believe down the road it will be the litmus test for politicians: were you on the right side of the issue from the start, or did you pander to your anti-civil rights voters and them jump on the bandwagon once the issue started gaining in popularity?

I've been thinking about this because of what Carlton wrote in his "values" post earlier this week:
Many blacks maintain conservative views on social issues due to their strong connection to the Church.
Let's look at the powder keg behind that one little sentence.

Regardless of what the Democrats actually *do* for African Americans (which is a whole other worthwhile discussion, and one I'm looking forward to Kara and others posting on), African Americans are a key constituency in the Democratic base vote.

Conventional wisdom dictates that a Democrat in a contested election needs to carry their precincts with high African American populations in order to carry the vote.

Conventional wisdom likewise dictates that African Americans are social conservatives, and will not support GLBT issues.

Which means that Democrats with a large number of African American constituents *believe,* rightly or wrongly, that if they support GLBT civil rights, they will lose the African American vote...and lose their election.

In other words, we have a problem.

1. Where else can the GLBT community turn?
We've already written off the Log Cabin Republicans, so all that leaves are the Greens. Could GLBT civil rights be the issue that galvanizes the Green Party and pushes them onto the national political scene as a viable third party? Even my crystal ball can't get a good read on this, but my guess is that while this is a long shot, the issues at play are so important and so powerful, that it is at least a remote possibility. And a scary possibility, because we really want all of the Greens as well as the GLBT community to come home to the Democrats and help us re-invent the party from the inside.

2. If the Democrats support GLBT issues, where will our African American voters turn?
The Republicans have been courting them for years--courting them in the same lip-service way, mind you, that they court women and Arab Americans. Will they fall for it? Or will they just stay home? Keep in mind that the Republicans have at the same time been *actively* campaigning to suppress the African American vote, and we're not just talking about Florida. Hit a man or woman with a stick enough times...and eventually they will stop doing whatever it was they think brought on the stick. Behavior modification 101.

3. How do we reframe the debate?
The solution to me, for the Democrats, the GLBT community, and for African Americans, is to start a dialogue towards demonstrating that this really is the civil rights movement revisited. Part of how Republicans succeed is their divide and conquer strategy of driving wedge issues to fracture the country and alienate natural allies--there is a belief here that there are only so many civil rights and only so much success to go around, and every new group needs to hold onto their own little piece before someone else takes it away. This view obviously ignores the fundamental truth that we sink or swim together, and that so long as one of us is not free, none of us are free.

One of my favorite definitions of feminism has always been that feminists don't want a bigger piece of the pie, we want to make a better pie for everyone. How can we reframe the newest civil rights battle in this way?

And folks, I'm not asking rhetorically: I want to know, and I want to know what you think.
  • How aware are your peers of GLBT issues?
  • Is anyone you know talking about Virginiai's House Bill 751?
  • How do we get support for GLBT struggles from African American Community?
  • And how do we make it "politically safe" for Democrats to give the GLBT community the support they deserve?

  • The burden for change and the moral responsibility will weigh most heavily on the shoulders of our generation. Let's get talking and brainstorming.

    Protecting the Vote

    (I am posting this for Jeff, from his vista in the Cloakroom. ~Shaula)

    ...a little bit about whats going on on capital hill in case you havent been watching C-SPAN 24/7....

    Today there was a suspension bill called H.Res 728 on the floor of the House of Representatives.
    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the actions of terrorists will never cause the date of any presidential election to be postponed and that no individual or agency should be given the authority to postpone the date of a presidential election.

    It was introduced by Rep. Ney, a REPUBLICAN on House Administration.

    How did the vote turn out? YEA- 419 NAY-2

    Not exactly a partisan contention... it was close to unanimous consent.

    Jeff added in his email to me that Republicans who support postponing the election are clearly way out of the mainstream of their own party.

    I haven't seen much about this in the news yet but I am interested to see how both parties spin the story.

    PhD or PhDead?

    This came down the pipeline from the International Coalition of Academics Against Ocupation:

    Overlooked by the U.S. Press is the escalating assassination of Iraqi academics, intellectuals, and lecturers. More than 250 college professors since April 30, 2003, according to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, have been the targets of assassination.

    You can view the entire article here.

    This is troubling. REAL troubling. Often times, social and cultural progress begins in the academics of a nation. Now this isn't to say that there haven't been many other innocent Iraqis dying due to the occupation (check out some of the more tear jerking moments of Moore's flic), but the death toll among proffessors and other intellectuals is evidence that this war will leave a lasting social effect on the nation. The United States has an obligation under the Geneva Conventions to care for the welfare of those citizens who live under its occupation. I'd like to remind the policy makers about that, but I imagine they're already informed.

    And who can post an entry without talking about the 9/11 commission? I hate to tell you I told you so, but:

    On the alleged connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, panel members said that while there had been contacts between the regime and the terrorist group, no concrete evidence emerged of a strategic partnership.

    "There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Kean said. "We have found no relationship whatever between Iraq and 9/11."

    "Conversations, yes," Hamilton added, "but nothing concrete."
    Check out the rest of this article when you get the chance.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2004

    Doing Right by America

    Senator Tom Daschle's floor speech today redefines the terms of the debate:
    Doing Right By America

    In just over 100 days, the American people will make an historic and fateful decision.

    They will decide whether we stay the course we’re on, or move our country in a new and better direction.

    As I’ve traveled around South Dakota and the nation, I’ve heard a lot about the hopes and dreams Americans have for their families. I’ve listened to ranchers and farmers, teachers and mothers, police officers and firefighters.

    I am always humbled by the honesty of their message. Families in South Dakota and across our nation aren’t asking for special deals or special advantage. All they want is a fair opportunity on a level playing field. They want to know that there’s only one set of rules, and that the game isn’t rigged against them.

    Most of all, they want to know that as we make decisions affecting the future of our country, our first priority is Doing Right by America.

    Read More of this amazing speech...

    Senator Daschle does everything in this speach that Democrats need to do to win:

  • (Re-)Define the terms of the public debate
  • (Re-)Claim the moral high ground
  • Champion the issues of working class Americans
  • Offer real policy solutions
  • Speak everyday language
  • Hold the Republicans publically accountable for their betrayals of the American people

  • Reading this has made my day.

    My only question is, why is this speach coming from Tom Daschle and not John Kerry?

    'Values' can be troublesome.

    I'm sure we've all been following the 'Values' debate between Bush and Kerry. What are the important values? Restricting a woman's right to choose (aka upholding the ideals of sexual morality) or telling the truth to the nation you lead before committing it to a war with dire consequences? 

    Or perhaps true values are found in being insensitive towards the GLBT community! Hey, what better way is there to secure the votes of patriotic 35-65 year old white males than by institutionalizing hatred towards homosexuals? Well it's nice to know that Pres. Bush can't do this without upsetting the proverbial waters, and this time in the GOP itself.

    Here's an excerpt from an article found on The Advocate:
    Patrick Guerriero, executive director of conservative gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans, has been getting asked one particularly humorous question a lot these days: "So who are you going to vote for? John Kerry or Ralph Nader?" After all, he and his group of gay Republicans have seemingly been hung out to dry by the Bush administration and its backers in Congress. This week Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate pushed for but failed to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. A procedural vote on the proposal needed 60 votes to pass but went down on Wednesday by a vote of 48 votes backing the amendment to 50 against. Still, Guerriero and his fellow gay conservatives have been left feeling beleaguered by all the antigay rhetoric that surrounded the Senate debate. "I do a lot of soul-searching," Guerriero admitted. "Our membership is ticked off."
    Feel free to peruse the entire article. It's a good read.

    As it stands now Bush's anti-GLBT position is a selling point to maintain his far-right constituency. On the other hand, gay rights often ends up antagonizing some parts of Kerry's support base. Many blacks maintain conservative views on social issues due to their strong connection to the Church. It's nice to know that the Log Cabin cats will speak out against injustice even if they have an -R behind their name.

    Monday, July 19, 2004

    The Laments of an Internationally Minded Youth

    The concept of a victory for Bush this year is a rather frightening thought. I often fall into the trap of assuming that most people feel the same way. Unfortunately, that's not true. Just look at his foreign policy. The evidence is right there, and yet many still choose to defend it.
    The fact of the matter is that Pres. Bush is displaying one of the shoddiest foreign policies in recent history. If you read Brzezinski's new book, The Choice, you'll see that he points to international cooperation as the key to future success. That's not only the case in the Middle East, it's the case in Europe and the Far East and EVERYWHERE. But it doesn't take a man with Brzezinski's reputation to tell us that. Isn't it obvious? Can you really continue to act unilaterally in a world where new and powerful weapons are dispersing so rapidly? Sure, war is an option when you're fighting a nation that poses no real threat, but what if this were a war with Iran? What if it were a war with North Korea? Frankly, in my opinion, war has become obsolete. The guns have become so big, and the bombs so dreadful, and the chemical warfare so icky that given an even fight, both sides will witness massive loss of life, and both sides will lose.
    So why the unilateralism? Why the our way or the highway? Maybe because the higher-ups are too concerned with losing our place as global hegemon? Maybe it's just liberal optimism talking, but I trust the global community a lot more than the neoconservatives do who are influencing the White House's policies. Bah. Calling them neoconservatives gives them too much credit. Neoconservatives at least have a heart.
    I'm not even playing the whole 'oil-driven/corruption' card. Regime change is needed. But not in the middle east. It's needed right here at home. Polls show that a large group of foreigners see the US as the greatest threat to international security. Put that in your 'global leader of democracy and the free-world' pipe and smoke it. Does anybody remember Woodrow Wilson? He was the man who ended World War I (or at least that's who the global community gave the credit to). Now that was a brilliant man. Following the War, he was absolutely the most popular man on the face of the planet. And through the course of a few years (and many many frustrating nights of Congressional debate) he lost it all. Fast forward to 2004. After September 11th, Bush had an enormous international mandate. He could have harnessed that power in order to take steps forward in creating a safer and more stable international system. Instead he burnt the reputation of the US to shambles.
    Prime Minister Tony Blair took full responsibility for taking his nation into war under false pretenses, but in the end, the Bush administration still finds ways to avoid such a statement. It's about time the president got himself some balls.

    The Political Power of Blogs

    The Chicageo Tribune has a story today on the political power of blogs:
    Blogs--short for Web logs, which are online journals that usually feature commentaries on daily events and provide links to other Web sites--are emerging as potentially powerful tools for building grass-roots political support.

    "Blogs are the new face of politics," Seemann, of Canton, Ohio, said. "We are on the ground level of what will be shaping up as the future of political campaigning."

    While scores of political blogs don't go beyond gossip and bickering, many are quite influential, analysts say...

    The article goes on to discuss the fundraising potential of blogs.

    I would like to see the C101 blog raise money for some of our favorite candidates.

    What do you think about the article? And, who do you think we should raise money for?