Phreddy Phelps Is(n't) Comin' To Town
Nope, he never showed. At least, not so you'd notice anyway.
On a chilly November night in North Brunswick, New Jersey, about fifty or sixty people gathered in a grassy area just across from the high school building where "The Laramie Project", the play about the brutal hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard, would be performed that night. Across the street, another grassy area of relatively equal size had been marked off for the Westboro Baptist Church protestors. I did see a couple of people in that area but only briefly. A few local media people were in evidence, but I avoided them. After a few minutes there I realized that I was the only transgender person in attendance, and I didn't want or need the attention.
We heard local activists take turns saying all the things that local activists say at protests like these. When they'd all spoken and no one else was looking to take the mic, I surprised myself by reaching for it.
I told those assembled that I'd gone to this high school over 30 years ago and that this protest would not, could not, have happened then. I told them that there are a lot of us already out there fighting for equality but that they would be the ones who will truly bring the struggle home. There was, I suppose, a lot more I could have said, but I knew that I was speaking to teenagers and there's a fine line in that demographic between interested and engaged and bored and tuned out. I wrapped up quickly and passed the mic back. A good number of adults showed up but it really wasn't about us. It was about kids speaking up for themselves and their friends, and it was truly great to see.
I had an appointment after the protest and unfortunately couldn't stay for the performance, but it's nice to know that people care. Afterward, I realized that I probably should have made some sort of comment about it also being the 12th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. While any other year if I were to be anywhere on that date it would be at a commemoration of the TGDOR, this year I felt I was exactly where I should have been.
This year, anti-LGBT hate tried to come calling on my hometown and North Brunswick stood proud, ready to send it packing with its tail between its legs. It just doesn't get any better than that.
So What About The Rebecca Juro Show?
The truth is that I don't have a complete answer for you just yet. Producer Mike Scott's got some stuff he's working on getting resolved so we can have our long-promised re-premiere, but I can also tell you that we may be in a place to be able to do some audio-only shows very soon. We were trying very hard to premiere with video but that may be something we have to hold in reserve until the future. We're both anxious to get back on the air so believe me when I tell you that it's not from lack of trying. More on this soon.
Did Democrats Finally Get The Message This Time?
If not, they're in far bigger trouble than simply losing control of the House.
Not only did Democrats lose big this time around, but they lost biggest by far in the most conservative districts. All but four of the House seats lost by Democrats this election are currently held by conservative Democrats. The Democratic Blue Dog caucus has been basically cut in half. While it can fairly argued that independent voters in those districts just went with the GOP this time, it can also be said that the Democratic Party's base is now making a clear and unambiguous statement about the kind of candidates we're prepared to actively support, and Republican Lite is no longer on the list.
It's becoming clearer and clearer that the Democratic Party base is now ready to demand that Democrats not only speak progressively at election time but also act progressively while in office as well. President Obama may have had no idea what he was encouraging when he told Americans to hold him accountable because the LGBT and progressive activist communities have been spending the time between his election (and, on the same day, the passage of Proposition 8 in California) and now using the media to do precisely that. In a lot of cases, we're not liking what we're seeing and we're speaking out about it.
Democrats may be thanking their lucky stars right now that the extremism of many Tea Party candidates helped to mitigate what might have been far more severe electoral losses this year, perhaps even control of the Senate in addition to the House, but if and when the Democratic progressive base gets fed up enough to generate its own Tea Party-like groundswell they may find themselves quickly changing their tune.
There's a reason why the Tea Party formed in the first place: They weren't getting what they wanted from their elected officials and they rose up to demand it. Sound familiar? Hopefully, the Democrats will take the lessons that should be learned from this last election and put them into action between now and 2012 because if they don't, if we still see the same kind of wishy-washy, pseudo-progressive Democratic Party in 2011 that we've seen until the lame duck, I suspect 2012 and future elections will be a lot rougher for Democrats than they may be expecting right now.
It's interesting to note that with Ted Kennedy's passing, the title of "Liberal Lion of the Senate" seems to have deservedly passed to a man who is neither Democrat or Republican, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-declared socialist. Truly progressive Democrats could do no better than to follow his lead. Just as the Tea Party has basically ignored the anti-LGBT social issues agenda of the GOP in their own demands for tax and entitlement reform, so too will progressives finally become fed up with the Democrats and begin to strike out on their own by running truly progressive candidates who will focus on the issues they care about against the more standard Democratic corporatists and the remaining Blue Dogs.
I'm tempted to make a prediction here, but I've discovered that I seem to be notoriously bad at that. Therefore, I'll make the safest of safe predictions about the next two years: It's going to be damned interesting to see what the newly slimmed-down, depowered, and conservative-shorn Democratic Party does now to help ensure that we don't see a Tea Party-like uprising on the left in 2012.
Maybe now they'll at least stop calling us whiners and saying we're on drugs for wanting a fair shake in this country. Now, at least, maybe we finally really can have hope. Now, maybe there's a real chance of actual change, at least for the Democratic Party, the way they treat their base, and the priority they place on the promises they make to those who believe in them, donate to their campaigns, knock on doors for them, endorse them to their friends and neighbors, vote for them, and put them in office.
The Democrats know as well as we do that there's a lot of anger at our government and our politicians in general and our federal government especially out there right now. At some point, Democrats will have to make the choice to continue trying to avoid dealing with it and hoping for the best while risking an uprising from the left that could seriously harm the Party in future elections, or to take that anger on openly and honestly now, and make changes in the way they do business to better reflect the will of today's electorate before it's too late.
For the sake of all of our futures, I hope they make the right choice.