Let me preface this by reminding everyone that my first Bilerico post ever was a critique of the President's LGBT record. That was this past Spring. We are now getting on into Winter, and I still believe the President has not acted correctly on an Executive Order lifting the military gay ban, or ending the misguided practice of not accepting gay blood donors.
But John Aravosis is going to throw the game by singling out the President in his point-by-point Democratic donation "pause" manifesto. This is a mistake with gigantic implications.
John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay are right on when they encourage gays and lesbians to stop blindly pouring money into the DNC. I don't have to join this boycott: I am this boycott.
I've never donated to the party, and probably never will. I've always advocated for choosing to spend your money wisely by cherry-picking individual candidates who you believe in, and not letting your dollars get spread around to everyone, whether or not they stand up for you.
John and Joe are full on correct in calling the LGBT community out on this. We need delivery, and the party just can't do that. We should put our money to much better use by focusing all of our assets on getting elected true allies.
The Americablog non-boycott boycott, however, spends too much time attacking the President, making this an obviously personal matter. This same President that has already done more for the LGBT community in his first year than any previous president in four or eight years ever has. I do love President Clinton, but his eight years in office where by no means a queer carnival. The law was changed more positively in our favor in one swoop during the Bush Administration (Lawrence V. Texas) than in all eight Clinton years. Our President may be a flaky friend, but he's a friend nonetheless.
John Aravosis is the reason I'm a gay activist today, and he very generously posted my video last week (with some very flattering description) for which I am very grateful. Though I was already a progressive issues activist, I never thought I'd be a queer rights activist until I began receiving John's emails almost ten years ago now. Now, the top priority in my life is serving our queer community. But I've not always agreed with John--especially when it comes to transgender issues--and this is another instance where I must speak up.
The idea here is superb, John, but the message is lost in this personal vendetta against the President. I think John and Joe need to reevaluate their message and refocus this boycott so it targets who it really needs to target: the DNC, the DCCC and the DSCC.
I see the merits of targeting the President; as the sitting President is traditionally the leader of his party, and tends to have a lot of clout to get Congress in line. But we don't have a traditional set-up this year. Enter the "Blue Dogs." The blue dogs see no problem openly defying the President and the party's agenda. Why? When they caucus, they give the Democrats the majority they need to hold the gavel. So the party will keep funding them.
But they vote with the Republicans. Its a hostage situation. Look at the "Stupak amendment." This dirty trick may have gotten health care reform passed in the House, but at what cost? The Democrats threw the women of America--especially the poor women--under the bus to appease these Republicans in Democrat clothing. Republicans who voted for the amendment didn't vote for Health Care Reform--it was all a red herring. The President was powerless to step in and stop this from happening.
We need to help secure those 'Blue Dog' districts so that we don't need those fools for the majority anymore. But this is a goal that we can concentrate on in the future. For now, let's try to make our focus really precise. We need to give the DNC some ammo to finally get these blue dogs in line, especially when it comes to LGBT rights. We need to target these rogues.
A More Precise Strategy
Forget the President for now. Forget everything else. We have a list of 37 "Blue Dogs" that are refusing to commit on ENDA.
All of you that are able need to call up their offices today and say "If you have not cosponsored ENDA by the end of this week, I'm writing a $1,000 check to your primary opponent.
Ten or twelve of those phone calls are going to get them sweating. Call one or call all 37 and let them know their opponent is getting a big boost in one week if they don't sign on to ENDA and come out strong. This is really urgent as rumors are abounding the House is getting cold feet on ENDA.
The President does not dictate the law. We just got rid of a dictator. Remember him? We don't want another one. We want the President (who, by the way, cosponsored Illinois' ENDA) to sign these laws. He has repeatedly vowed he will, but we have to get them to his desk, first. If we want him to sign ENDA, we have to get tough on these blue dogs who want to play coward.
The DC orgs are sure that we'll get three or more of these uncommitted to support ENDA for the majority, but I'm not so sure. A "yes" vote on a law is a lot more politically risky than coming out and supporting it without being on record on the floor, or cosponsoring it. If we can't make them say yes now, I don't want to bank on any of them voting yes when the heat is on. These Conservacrats have proven already that the party can't count on them. We need to get them in line, and use the only thing that works on them. Not Presidential pressure: financial.
They don't want a difficult primary. If there's any chance that they can avoid gushes of money going to their primary challengers by supporting one bill, it could happen.
Forget the President for now, and lets focus on what's important. This isn't about who's pissed us off, its about getting this done, and getting it done right. I hope you all join me in making those phone calls right now. Joe and John, I hope you join me as well, because I truly believe you're on the right track. Let's just focus all of our strength in the right direction.