Rebecca Juro

The Art Of The Possible

Filed By Rebecca Juro | December 17, 2007 7:40 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democrats, ENDA, LGBT, politics, queer, transgender

I have to admit that I really didn't think it was possible, and while I'm still not sure was wrong in the first place, I do have to acknowledge that there's a much better chance now than I'd previously believed: It's now more possible than ever that Barack Obama could be the Democratic Party's nominee for President. There are new reports of polls indicating that Obama could conceivably take both Iowa and New Hampshire in the primaries. While by no means a foregone conclusion (Bill Clinton lost both states in the '92 primaries, but still went on to win), it's at least an indicator that Hillary is not as invincible a candidate as some, including myself, used to think.

For me, at least, it's an encouraging prospect to consider. I'm still very much of the opinion that the Donnie McClurkin thing, particularly the way it was handled once the truth about his anti-gay views became known, was absolutely shameful and direct slap in the face not only to the LGBT community at large, but also to the values which Obama has promoted during this campaign. Yet, when compared to the far worse record of Hillary Clinton, Obama still seems like a breath of fresh air, the kind of real change this country desperately needs, instead of the rollback to the era of ignorance, bad legislation, and political invisibility we suffered during the 90's with Bill Clinton in office, regardless of which Party happened to hold a majority in Congress at any given time during his tenure.

When you compare these two candidates head-to-head, there's just no comparison at all if you're really an inclusive proponent of LGBT rights. Here's just a few of the more relevant highlights:

Obama: Has come out strongly, publicly, and repeatedly in favor of an inclusive ENDA, and in favor of similar legislation throughout his political career.

Clinton: Has publicly addressed the issue of ENDA exactly twice that I'm aware of in all of the time she's been running for and serving in elected office. In 2000, when running for the Senate, she told a reporter that she wasn't supporting trans-inclusion in ENDA because no one in the gay and lesbian community had asked her to. Early this year, Clinton addressed ENDA again, but this time edited the issue of gender-variant Americans completely out of the picture when she told a wildly-cheering Human Rights Campaign Executive Board during a speech that she supports the passage of ENDA because she believes no one should be fired because of who they love.

Obama: Has an entire section of his campaign website devoted to LGBT people and issues, which is fully inclusive of all segments of the community.

Clinton: Her website has nothing whatsoever specifically relevant to LGBT voters. Clinton does have something promoted as her LGBT Steering Committee, but this is actually a group of mostly uber-wealthy and well-connected white gays and lesbians, with just a few transfolks and (perhaps) a few racially and ethnically diverse members who are probably included as a nod to PC tokenism.

Obama: Has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to publicly discuss his support for LGBT equal rights (up to but excluding marriage), and has done so proactively on many occasions.

Clinton: Rarely, if ever, discusses LGBT-relevant issues if not asked a direct question. Still has not publicly stated her position on transgender inclusion in ENDA (or even simply mentioned transgender or gender-variant people at all) during this campaign.

Obama: Supports a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Clinton: Supports only a partial repeal of DOMA, favors federal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, but also favors allowing continued discrimination against LGBT people and our relationships through state and local laws.

Personally, my heart and my values as an American are with Dennis Kucinich. He's the candidate I believe best reflects my vision of the kind of America I want to live in. That said, I'm also a realist. Despite the fact that he seems to win every candidate-blind issues-based poll in a landslide, he doesn't seem to be making much of an impact in the actual Presidential horse race. If I'm to be limited to Clinton and Obama as potentially viable candidates from which to choose (and it seems like I will be), then I've got to go with the candidate that at least takes on the tough day-to-day issues that impact my life and the lives of people I care about head-on instead of avoiding them.

No, I don't think Barack Obama is the perfect candidate, but, for that matter, neither is Dennis. His choice to vote in favor of a non-inclusive ENDA in the full House and his proudly displaying an HRC symbol in his Congressional office don't thrill me. Yet, if I'm able to forgive Dennis these choices I don't approve of because I support his platform, can I really deny the same consideration to Obama in regards to McClurkin when the realistic choices come down to just two?

How about you? If it's a realistic choice between Clinton and Obama as the potential Democratic Presidential nominee, who gets your primary vote: Clinton, Obama, or another, the candidate of your heart? In the end, which wins the day for you here: Idealism, pragmatism, or enlightened self-interest?


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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 18, 2007 10:32 AM

Well said Rebecca! I have long been a supporter of Barack's candidacy. His vision for moving the country forward is one that I share.

I trust Hillary R.C. as much as I trust the other HRC. If, by the time of the Illinois primary, it is down to HRC's HRC and Obama, I'll be voting for Obama.

However, I'm hoping that Edwards will have knocked them both out by then.

Edwards-Obama in '08.

Um, this time four years ago Kerry wasn't #1, he was #5 in national polls after Dean, Clark, Gephardt, then Lieberman. And after december that whole scene changed.

Sure, the field was less spread then, and Kerry's #5 or Edwards #6 is probably equivalent to Richardson's #4 in this race, but still, it's very much not set in stone right now, nor was it ever, despite what the media want us to believe so that they can have good TV and simplified commentary.

That said, I'm pretty glad that I'm not set on anyone at this point since they all have major issues that I know are never going to be dealt with because of the context in which they're working.

If it comes down to the big three, I'd go for Edwards. Personally, I'm still holding out for a Richardson/Edwards ticket. Hell, I'd even go for Edwards/Richardson...

I'm proud to support Hillary Clinton - she is so much better on most issues. If she is not the Democratic nominee, I might actually have to vote for the Republican nominee (that would be a first).

Bil, personally I don't really think Edwards has a chance, which is why I didn't include him here. That's not to say I wouldn't consider him if he did, but at this point I think he's pretty much a dark horse.

Holly, if you care about LGBT issues, the only ones Hillary Clinton is better than are Republicans. For reasons mentioned above and more, she lags behind significantly on the issues that make a difference in LGBT American lives. If you're ok with being ignored when not being thrown half-measure failing attempts at addressing LGBT issues that not only don't solve problems but make them worse (ala DADT, ala Hillary's proposed partial repeal of DOMA) then I guess Hillary's your girl. On the other hand, if you think LGBT Americans deserve better than being avoided and ignored when not being actively shit on under the guise of support, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Remember John Kerry...she's following his path pretty closely in this race. I expect the same result: the moment the going gets tough, she'll throw us under the bus, just like Kerry did, just like the Democrats have been doing since they regained power in Congress. If you really want to see change in this country, you have to actually vote for it.

The art of the impossible…

The end of the oil wars is impossible with Democrats controlling Congress and Obama in the White House. He said so when he admitted that there is little likelihood of withdrawal in the first term no matter who wins. If he’s elected we’ll be at the White House within months chanting “Hey, hey, O-ba-ma, how many kids did you kill today.” Will you be with us or will you support the war because he does.

A health care plan that guarantees coverage for all Americans is impossible with Democrats controlling Congress and Obama in the White House. His plan is even worse that Clintons and Edwards; none are for socialized medicine, merely a fix to generate monies for HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies. Representatives of the National Nurses Organizing Committee AFL-CIO and the Physicians for a National Health care program say “Barack Obama has released his healthcare plan—and it is a bitter disappointment to patient advocates around the country who hoped that he would ‘turn the page’ on the broken healthcare system that is causing our nation so much anguish.”

An end to the domination of government and the twin parties by big money will not happen with Democrats controlling Congress and Obama in the White House. His campaign is in hock to the ruling rich. Obama got hundreds of thousands from Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. They’re the financial gangsters who make millions from hedge funds and massive foreclosure rates from the sub-prime meltdowns. They’re obscene parasites who destroy homeowners. When they tell Obama to jump his only question is ‘how high’.

It’s clearly preposterous to expect Obama to be on our side. He can and will promise everything we want to hear but to date the best he’s been able to do is to ineptly balance his alleged allegiance to GLBT issues with his real commitment, which is to the votes of superstitious homobigots. Bill Clinton made the same sort of promises and gave us DOMA and DADT. The recent congress made promises but gutted ENDA and ‘misplaced' the hate cries bill.

The economic crisis that’s building will require unions and family farmers to oppose pro business candidates like Edwards, Obama, Giuliani, Clinton and Huckabee. They’re leaning us deeper and deeper into an economic nosedive.

Comparing Clinton and Obama is meaningless. They and the Democrats as a whole continue to pander to bigots, support NAFTA, oppose socialized medicine and are pledged to continue the war. They and their Republican cousins are the enemy. Progress is impossible if they’re in power.

Wow, and people tell me I'm cynical...

I agree with you on most of your points, Bill, but I don't really think that any of the frontrunners are going to really give us what we want or need on issues like health care or Iraq. Given that, my own first priority as a voter is selfish: I want an inclusive hate crimes law and I want an inclusive ENDA. These, especially ENDA, can make real and lasting differences in people's lives.

In all honesty, I think any Democratic President will actively support and sign into law an inclusive hate crimes bill. As we've seen, it's already a "gimme" for Congress, an easy way to show support for LGBT Americans without expending too much political capital.

On ENDA however, while I'd expect Obama, and Edwards for that matter, to actively support and sign an inclusive ENDA, I have no faith whatsoever that Hillary would do so. She hears little on our issues that doesn't come out of the HRC rhetoric machine, and I think she would be just as willing to boot transfolks over the side if the bill meets with any resistance as Frank, Pelosi, HRC, and their slimy ilk are.

Personally, I think there's a reason why she's avoided addressing trans inclusion in ENDA and I think that's exactly it: She wants to leave that door open, which she would not be able to do if she were honest with our community and publicly expressed a position on trans-inclusion in the bill. I think she doesn't really care about LGBT people, only LGBT money and votes, and since she's getting more of that from HRC than elsewhere in the community, that's the example she would use when considering rights for all LGBT people.

Rebecca, these questions don't play out in isolation.

If Obama keeps the US involved in the resource wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and extends the oil piracy into Iran even more civilians will die. The death toll is already somewhere between 655,000 and 1,000,000. An unknown number of them are gays and lesbians hunted down and murdered by US armed and supported jihadists. I imagine that’s one of the items you and I agree about.

But there we stop agreeing. There’s a principle involved; a line in the sand drawn with the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. That line is one that many of us will never cross. These people are dead and more will die because Texaco, Arco and Hunt Oil want their oil fields; it’s a simple and lethal equation. We will not consider supporting the murder of our fellow humans, our fellow workers, and our GLBT brothers and sisters. The politicians who kill Iraqis are killing the constitution too. Ask yourself why the Democrats consistently vote to strengthen the Paytriot act? Will it take another Kent State/Jackson State to wake people up? Ultra rightists and bigots fester during wars.

Past civil rights bills have indeed helped some women and some members of minority groups but they cannot, because of very conscious intent, eliminate the broad and pervasive effects of racism and sexism that blight the lives of tens of millions. When African American political leaders say that their standard of living has disproportionately declined in the last couple of decades they are not lying. All the data, from the BLS and the Census Bureau confirms it. The hangman’s noose in Jena and Katrina signal the resurgence of violent racism and malign neglect.
The kind of laws that could have a real impact would include harsh penalties, including fines and jail time for churches, parents, businesses and government agencies or individuals that discriminate, organize violence or commit violence. Those laws are NOT going to be passed or signed by Democrats or Republicans. Most of us are going to be left out in the cold by the feeble laws they’ll permit.

If you add to those considerations the many questions raised by the mismanagement of our national economy and infrastructure by the obscene greed of the ruling rich then their parasitic relation to us becomes clear. We need socialized medicine because people will die without it, especially the poor and the rising numbers of the working poor. We need free education and better housing, and etc. We need to harshly deal with employers and bigots who engage in the super exploitation of immigrant and imported workers. They’re human, they need our help and nothing else matters in the least. But none of that’s going to happen. In fact, most leading economists say we’re in for a very bumpy ride indeed. That is the direct fault of political toadies like Clinton, Giuliani, Obama, Huckabee and Edwards who do as they’re told by the rich. They're in politics to get rich and they do os by allowing the rich to do whatever they damn well please. These politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about us.