Fellow contributor Adam Bink wrote on Open Left about the following Newsweek prediction for 2010:
Patience became the 2009 mantra of the gay rights movement, which generally supports Democrats. Many activists believe that in his heart Obama supports their flagship issues: the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, to be protected from employment in the workplace, and the right to marry (even though he's on record as favoring civil unions over marriage). But they've received almost nothing for their troubles. What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist. Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won't pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom-and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energized conservative base that's venomously opposed to gay marriage.
If Newsweek is thinking about about energized voters, did they happen to notice an already energized LGBT movement that is pissed as hell at inaction and repeated slights by this Administration? As Mike Lux pointed out, 1994 was lost in major part because the base stays home. If Obama and Democrats in Congress really want to know what, to quote George W. Bush, a "thumpin'" feels like, they should take no action on LGBT issues and watch scores of LGBT people stay home.
Adam is correct. The LGBT movement is "pissed as hell," and they should be. Contrary to popular belief, LGBT voters are not single issue voters. They vote on a platform of several progressive ideals. They are largely pro-environment, anti-war, pro-meaningful health care reform that befits people and not the profits of insurance companies, and so on.
The Democratic caucus has dropped the ball on all fronts (with the exception of a couple of notable Representatives like Kucinich, McDermott, and Senator Franken). Add those sins with the fact that LGBT Americans will still be legally terminated from employment in 2010 because they are LGBT. Yes, Congress failed to pass ENDA or repeal DADT in 2009. The Democratic party now faces a powerful group of politically and financially savvy constituents who are not ready to stay home as Adam suggests, but worse -- LGBT Americans will actively campaign against those who are not true progressives.
That's right, we should campaign against Democrats if we have to. Does that mean we are suddenly going to support the Republican party? No way. The Republican party was taken over by the ideals of the Constitution party years ago. Most of them are more than willing to aggressively oppose our rights and in some cases lobby for our deaths in foreign countries like Uganda. The Republican party is and should remain an absurdity.
Rather, we should challenge Democrats in primary elections with fresh faces who are honestly dedicated to real reform and dare I say progress toward a better future. If such a candidate does not exist than find one... or better -- be one. If the Democratic party is too corrupt where you live, then run as a third party candidate.
Staying home is not an option. We're fighting for our lives -- not just the lives of LGBT people, but for humanity's future. Timid tiptoeing Democratic politics of the past must end. We should not fear the neo-cons and their predictable retributions for trying to better our planet. We must elect leaders who actually live the ideals we seek, leaders who are just as angered by hypocrisy as the citizens who elect them, and leaders who are not afraid to make decisions that will undoubtedly rile up teabaggers. These candidates exist, but we can not let the fear of losing prohibit us from supporting them wholeheartedly.
There are enough progressives gay and straight who are so disturbed by the current state of affairs that we have enough political power to completely upset the power structure in 2010 and yes even in 2012.
That power will only be realized though, if we don't stay home. Staying home is the worst thing we can do.