Michael Crawford

The Politics of Politics

Filed By Michael Crawford | October 04, 2007 12:08 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: gay rights, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT, LGBT rights, transgender, transgender rights

In a smart post called The Party Never Really Started Libby Post says:

Formed in 1980, HRC has built an impressive “inside the beltway” reputation—and it is that insider politic that has so many upset. It seems that HRC took too long to voice its opposition to the Frank compromise bill and when it did, it wasn’t strong enough.

This is all about the politics of politics.

Instead of flatly coming out against the bill, the Human Rights Campaign reaffirmed its support for a trans-inclusive ENDA but was clear that it would not lobby against Frank’s revised bill. Some consider this to be playing both sides off the middle. I consider it to be shrewd politics by an organization who knows how to play the game.

And, that is what gets many of the grassroots LGBT activists mad. Maybe it’s because they’re not in a position to play the game, maybe it’s because they don’t want to. Whatever the reason, the hyperbole from many corners of the LGBT community regarding HRC’s decision is over the top and, quite frankly, naïve.

As a political entity, the LGBT community needs insiders as well as outsiders. Our movement has grown at lightening speed. We’ve accomplished so much in a relatively short period of time because we learned from other social change movements. Intentionally or not, we’ve taken a more sophisticated view of politics and recognize activism is needed at all levels—both inside and out.

To marginalize HRC because it’s not taking the “politically correct” stand—as defined by those who believe their position is the only effective approach—is not only doing a disservice to our community, but it is hurting our community.

Libby is dead on in this assessment of the tensions between "insiders" and "outsiders" in our community. We need to be working every avenue possible to advance our fight for equality. That includes lobbyists on Capitol Hill and at state capitols, grassroots activists putting pressure on elected officials in their local communities, online activists who are using email, blogs, video and social media to amplify the message and sway public opinion, straight allies voicing their support and more. This is a political campaign and it should be run like one.


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Boring, empty rhetoric. Could Libby's post be more cliché?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | October 4, 2007 12:34 PM

Nick,

How about discussing the points that Libby raises and not dismissing the post because you may disagree with it?

"We need to be working every avenue possible to advance our fight for equality." This is the same rationale used by Gay Republicans. If it is toxic when it comes from their mouths, it is just as toxic when it comes from HRCs.

The problem here is not a wealth of shrewd thinking, rather a lack of leadership on the issue. HRC has bungled this bill from its inception and the hits just keep on coming. When will the gay community learn that HRC's “'inside the beltway' reputation" is one of mismanagement and wasted opportunity. Everything HRC has ever touched (D’Amato, marriage amendments, ENDA) has turned to stone.

The LGBT community deserves better leadership than HRC can offer?

Instead of flatly coming out against the bill, the Human Rights Campaign reaffirmed its support for a trans-inclusive ENDA but was clear that it would not lobby against Frank’s revised bill. Some consider this to be playing both sides off the middle. I consider it to be shrewd politics by an organization who knows how to play the game.

This is not supporting a bill that includes gender identity and expression this is political double speak. To translate for those who can't see it.
we would like to support an inclusive ENDA but we are afraid we cannot because we are committed to gays and lesbians not transfolk.

This statement reflects a form of political prostitution where HRC is available to the highest bidder.

The LGBT movement does need insiders that support the whole movement not sell out part of the movement at the slightest bit of opposition.

With insiders like Frank and HRC we would be better off with support from the Republicans. They are honest about their feelings and wouldn't stab us in the back.



To marginalize HRC because it’s not taking the “politically correct” stand—as defined by those who believe their position is the only effective approach—is not only doing a disservice to our community, but it is hurting our community.

On the contrary HRC is being marginalized because they went against their word and have proven they cannot be trusted.
Maybe HRC should have sat this one out instead of letting their ego write a check their name and past reputation couldn't cover.

Michael i agree we do need to be using every avenue to get an inclusive bill passed.
We also need insiders we can trust not political whores who sell out to the highest bidder.


Take care
Susan Robins

As a political entity, the LGBT community needs insiders as well as outsiders. Our movement has grown at lightening speed. We’ve accomplished so much in a relatively short period of time because we learned from other social change movements. Intentionally or not, we’ve taken a more sophisticated view of politics and recognize activism is needed at all levels—both inside and out.

I'd agree whole-heartedly with this paragraph. And I realize that HRC is falling on their sword to keep up relations on the Hill. I just think they'd also be extremely well served to remember that they need to keep up relations with their own members or they'll end up fading into the dust.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | October 4, 2007 1:25 PM

As one who, despite approaching my eighth decade, am a pretty recent newcomer to the legislative/political aspects of GLBTQ advocacy, I have considerable empathy for what Michael Crawford and Libby Post have to say here. That, notwithstanding my belief that we ought not to abandon our trangender compatriots in this particular instance. But the comment on the need for both "insiders" and "outsiders" can't be overemphasized. It would be nice, of course, if when the two aspects are in conflict with each other, our movement had something of someone akin to the evangelical fundamentalist's Bible or God Herself. But we don't, and sometimes somebody is going to have to swallow hard and take a path nobody likes in theory but is the only viable course in practice. On the current issue, as I said, I think no ENDA at present is better than an incomplete one. But the honest discussion of such a matter should not trigger instant name-calling. I regret that it seems to promote instant namecalling. Sadly, sometimes I think we have far less tolerance for each other at times like this than some of our real enemies have for us.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | October 4, 2007 1:56 PM

Susan,

The staff at HRC are not "political whores." Its unfair to call them that.

They are an incredibly smart and committed group of people who work every day to secure LGBT civil rights. They sometimes make mistakes which some people take great glee in pointing out. Of course every single organization and individual activists has made mistakes. HRC staff was also instrumental in the passage of the hate crimes bill which includes gender identity and sexual orientation for which they have received little credit.

We have a lot of work to do and we need every engage in the fight.


Michael all of that might be true However HRC is selling out the TS/ TG communities all to get a weakened version of ENDA passed.
That makes them collectively not individually political whores in my book.

I do take exception to HRC being committed to the cause... Remember ADA I do i have friends who are HIV positive and lost their jobs because they were sold out by HRC.

I will be blunt

If HRC cannot Support an inclusive bill I will do everything in my power through every channel i have to erode support for HRC.
And i know i am not the only one who feels that way, just the most vocal.

It's an all or nothing deal.
it's that simple.

bill perdue | October 4, 2007 6:43 PM

The Human Rights Campaign is a self sustaining fund raising group for the Democratic Party and not a civil rights organization. They're in the Democrats pockets and like everyone in that situation, thoroughly marginalized.

They take their political direction exclusively from the right-wingers and centrists who lead and own the Democratic Party. Nevertheless,HRC had to do an about face on ENDA because of the overwhelming stubborn rejection of attempts to gut it by the Democrats.

The HRC, Pelosi and Frank were damned by the indignant outrage of almost all the other groups and leaders of the LGBT communities. Fundraising groups cannot hustle the suckers, or as they put it, 'raise funds for the movement' if everyone despises them.