I really didn't think I was being all that nuanced.
I was, am and will be critical of crummy work, laziness and poor outcomes. I can't help it. My parents were whip-crackers. As a child, if I promised to do something, and didn't do it, I would be up a creek. A creek made of poo. If I did something poorly--for example, mowing the lawn, but made it look like a one-legged drunk blind man was at the helm of the mower--I would have to do it over again.
Apparently this was not the work ethic that many in Washington were raised with.
But let's look again at this word I used. "Many." What does it mean? Does it mean all? Does it mean none? No. It means some but not all.
LGBT turnout at the polls was abysmal this year. Moreover, the party that can usually count on an endless cornucopia of queer votes, kissed many of those supporters goodbye.
I'm sorry if those posts where I held the leadership accountable and pointed out the mistakes our elected officials were making could be interpreted as blanket statements about the party, about the progress we've made and about voting. That was stupid.
On both our parts.
I knew there was a communication breakdown via Facebook as the election approached. I have many many friends on Facebook, and many were getting fired up and preparing for the election--as was I. Some of that preparing meant pushing for action on the LGBT promises that DC leadership had made but not yet kept. That was good.
At some point, however, it became quite obvious to me that many of my friends had very simplified versions of the problem. It was black and white.
DEMOCRATS BAD! VOTE THEM OUT GOOD! I NO SEE PAST ONE WEEK FROM NOW! I NO CARE!
Well, you see, its not quite as simple as all that, is it. However, perhaps it was my responsibility, as a writer, to really flesh that out more. Instead, I thought we could be intelligent. I thought we could understand the shades of gray here. Not all Democrats had let us down on the hill by any means. In fact, there were plenty up there that were putting a quite disproportionate amount of time into trying to push our agenda.
Of course, this being an uphill battle, and this being Washington, these efforts got little traction. Efforts by true allies like Patrick Murphy, Jarrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Ellen Tauscher, Russ Feingold and Joe Sestak.
The general idea was: hold the leadership accountable so they pick up more slack, and help push these things the rest of the way.
I wasn't clear enough, however. Many of my peers, caught up in their anger, began placing hexes on the Democrats. All Democrats were fair game in this demonization--Democrats who had done the right things and voted the right way like Phil Hare, Bill Foster, and on and on. All Democrats were suddenly the enemy.
In the weeks leading up to the election, I could see the writing on the wall. The LGBT community was, by and large, uninterested in saving the Democratic Party from an epic loss, albeit one brought on by the party leadership's general bobbling and bumbling on a number of fronts. I began to panic and try to give my peers more to think about than the black and white "DEMS GOT TO GO, DEMS BAD!"
But the effort was too late. The damage was done: we bloggers, in an effort to galvanize our readers into action, had galvanized many in the opposite directions--believing in a vast Democratic conspiracy to keep us down a large group stayed home and felt justified in doing so based on the words I had written, things I had said. So allies like Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Phil Hare, Bill Foster and Russ Feingold are going home, despite their best efforts on our behalf.
Punished by the sins of their leadership, who are, consequently, still going back to Washington in January.
I don't think that LGBT folks staying home are the only reason for a lot of these losses, but I know these same conversations were happening in other Progressive niches as well: from immigration reform activist circles to environmentalist groups. Collectively progressives stayed home. And a big part of that progressive coalition are the LGBT voters. We can't ignore the fact we had something to do with it.
"But Phil," you ask, "How can you ask me to go back and vote for party that let me down?"
Aye. There's the rub. The party didn't let you down. This particular incarnation of the party leadership let you down. However, you can't vote on the leadership. You can't vote on the party. You can only vote on the candidates, so sticking it to them made many folks feel like they were sticking it to the real culprits.
However, that's not how it works.
There was a huge down-ticket effect as well. All over the nation Democratic legislatures were replaced with Republican and Democratic governors were replaced by Republican, in this redistricting year. So progressives have not only now lost any chance of passing progressive legislation in the House of Representatives for the next two years; things may end up so badly gerrymandered that we won't see progressives have much of a say in anything in either federal chamber for years to come.
Not to mention that with a Presidential election on the horizon with Republicans hungry to take the White House back there's no doubt Rove-esque strategies will be used to add scary anti-gay ballot measures to the ticket to draw out crazy hermit conservatives that only come out to vote if their vote makes someone else's life miserable. Some of these ballot measures might have a tougher time getting on the ballot with Democratic AGs and legislatures. However, now that the nation's state legislatures and top spots are practically one big red dot, you can bet you'll be seeing something.
Oh, think your state is immune because you've already got a marriage amendment? What about ballot measures overturning employment protections, or outlawing adoption, or ending GSAs for high schoolers. I bet with enough time, the right can cook up plenty of ways to put us uppity queers back in our place.
If you took what I wrote criticizing the leadership as a call to boycott progressive candidates or not vote, then I'm sorry. That doesn't mean I shouldn't have wrote all I wrote, or that I will stop, at any time, holding the leadership responsible. I'm not a party patsy. I may wish for the electoral success of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, but that doesn't mean I'm going to slant my coverage of the party's misdoings in their favor, ignore blatant slip-ups or zip my lips when it might make the party look bad.
It only means I need you to be a more critical reader. I need you to understand when I criticize leadership for another fumble, I'm not endorsing the opposite party, I'm not telling you to boycott the election. I'm just trying to shine a light, that's all.
Maybe I'm giving myself too much credit. After all, I wasn't the only outspoken critical blogger. My efforts to galvanize voters in the weeks before the election were met with silence. Maybe it wasn't even me in the first place. After all, I have no idea if anyone even reads these posts at all!
But if anything I said may have swayed you not to vote, I apologize deeply for causing you to do something so terribly irresponsible.