Alex Blaze

Massachusetts special election today: A Brown victory means Obama's done too much for LGBT's

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 19, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Martha Coakley, Massachusetts, Nancy Pelosi, National Organization for Marriage, NOM, scott brown

Bridgette LaVictoire thinks LGBT's might not get out to vote in the special Senate election today:

It is there that Massachusetts becomes a problem. Massachusetts is a state with some of the largest numbers of LGBT Americans in the country, and a large number of LGBT allies. The lack of movement on Obama's part on these issues is discouraging, and many may be unwilling to vote for Coakley because Obama has been so timid when it comes to these battles. In many ways, it will not be the fact that the Democrats went too far with health care reform and financial reform and even the repeal of anti-LGBT laws that lost them this seat, and threatens to make 2010-2013 a legislative deadlock unlike anything this nation has seen in a long time, but rather the fact that the Democrats did not go far enough in pursuing an agenda of popular Progressivism.

Obama, Reid and Pelosi forgot to fight for the people who put them into power, and now they are at risk of being unable to do anything for years to come.

She may be right that some queer people will stay home because of the lack of action. It'll be hard to tell - the people who turn out to vote in a special election form a smaller crowd than in presidential or midterm elections and trend older, whiter, and more conservative.

But it's unlikely that the media and the people who run the Democratic Party will interpret a Republican winning as a sign they need to move further to the left. Instead, they'll probably look at the facts that Brown prides himself in being a social conservative, that the National Organization for Marriage has been robo-calling on his behalf, and the general excitement and noise coming from the right, and instead come to the conclusion that Obama, Congress, and the state of Massachusetts has been moving too far to the left, especially on LGBT issues, over the past decade and people are just fed up with it.

If Brown wins, it will be taken as a message that Congress needs to slow down on LGBT issues.

Now, as you stop laughing from that previous statement, realize that there has been movement this past year on LGBT legislation and policy. Anti-trans discrimination was banned in the federal government. Hate crimes legislation passed. Plenty of LGBT people were appointed to various positions. Domestic partner benefits legislation is working its way through Congress. Hearings have been held on ENDA. And there's been a whole lot of pretty talk from members of Congress and the President, which, if you don't have anything personally at stake, can make you think that there's been more progress than there actually has been.

Nancy Pelosi has already told House members that she'll put off controversial votes because she thinks that the House has done enough in 2009 and 2010 is an election year. It's generally the way these losses get interpreted: the Democrats have moved too far to the left, so they lost. While there's plenty of evidence that Democrats do lose when the base is depressed, it's a counter-intuitive explanation that doesn't have much chance of winning over a generally conservative establishment.

There are plenty of LGBT people in Massachusetts, which means that discussions will start with "Even Massachusetts, that's so progressive and has lived with same-sex marriage, voted for a tea bagger! Americans are really, really upset with how far to the left their country has moved!" The fact that people need a reason to come out and vote, and that Coakley and the Democrats have run anything but a competent campaign in Massachusetts, will get second billing to the much more gratifying "Democrats need to move to the right" explanation.

Also, considering how close the Senate is on ENDA, it'd be bad for Brown to win on policy grounds too.

If you live in Massachusetts, take the time today to vote. No matter how much gloom and doom you think politics is made of, and no matter how insufficient Coakley may end up being in the Senate, the result will be worse if he wins than if Coakley does. And it'll affect the whole country.

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I think a Brown win will have more effect on health care reform than anything else. Congress has already been dragging their feet on our issues and if he wins they'll continue as they are - giving us lip service and excuses why our issues aren't a priority "currently."

Actually, a Brown win might be a good thing for health care reform. I'll have a post up later today exploring that scenario.

Most of the scenarios I've read that go that way (reconciliation, conference, House just passing the Senate bill) are fairly unconvincing since they rely on Democrats caring more about passing a good health care bill than the 80 other concerns (like bipartisanship, their corporate masters, obscure Senate rules) that they've already put before health care for this past year.

But I look forward to reading your scenario, because he just might win and I'm all about hope.

MA has yet to give T's the same rights it gave GLBs a decade ago. Just sayin'

Reminding people of just how much has been promises, and nice words, and how little has been delivered.

This is on what might happen to health care reform as the result of a Brown win, from a self-proclaimed liberal:

I love this part:

If we assume the hypothetical premise that Massachusetts goes Republican, the political and psychological damage to Democratic morale will itself lose a few votes regardless of the 60-vote issue.

A few? Really? I think it'll be a few more than that and it might effectively get tabled.

He also predict that Dems would go for reconciliation, which they branded "The Nuclear Option" just a few years ago. I dunno, I guess they could change and pass a bill using that, but something tells me that if Coakley loses they won't be up for any tests of their political courage.

If you had not noticed the Dem are just giving us a rather half hearted hand job over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, DOMA and ENDA—and as for that betrayal to women rights and progressive ideals called Healthcare Reform.... it is just too bad a defeat for Coakley won't kill it...

What we need to be calling for … is tough love…. the same thing you do with a junkie or a drunk if you want them to get better… and what you need to do to break the codependency with the abuser.

We as a community need to stand up to the Dems… and we need to do it when it will have an impact.


yes doing this is going to hurt for a little while... just think of it as pulling a dirty bandage off a festering wound... and breaking the LGBT codependency with the Dems... and we will feel better for having done it in the long run.

LaVictoire is full of shit. The race is close not because LGBT Massholes are staying home, but because the Democratic electorate picked the wrong candidate 5 weeks ago.

Martha Coakley would probably make a good senator. The problem is that she makes for a terrible candidate. She coasted through the primary season on the women's vote (she was the only woman in the race) and on name recognition (the other three candidates hadn't run statewide races). She never really SAID or DID anything in the entire primary race, and she cleaned up.

Her biggest fault was in trying to roll that strategy through the general election, too. She came up against someone who faced no real primary opposition, and who was willing to hammer away at her while she tried to stay "above the fray". Brown found a motif that worked ("it's the people's seat!") and he's putting it on every sign and bumper sticker he puts out there. Once Coakley slipped in the polls, the national establishment of both parties swooped in, and I now get 4 political commercials in each break, and 5-8 calls at home, mostly robocalls.

Believe me, Coakley's potential downfall has nothing to do with LGBT apathy. If there are LGBT Massholes staying home, they comprise a very small, insignificant reason for her numbers.

"Out of the mouths of babes comes....oatmeal." - Oscar Levant.

Chitown Kev | January 19, 2010 4:01 PM

The scapegoating of LGBTs on this special election is outrageous.

From what I can tell, Martha Coakley played "prevent defense" the whole campaign and now it appears that it may cost her.

So far voter turnout has been higher than for midterm elections.

Pundits are atributing this to a reaction against the government and to what people perceive as "corruption" in selling out everything else to score a healthcare win.

The next three years of this administration will make for good, dramatic outrage columns but poor governance as the 'perception of Obama' has changed to weakness and political ineffectiveness. The ante was spend in the wrong game, and the other side has all of the public perception of strength and momentum blue chips...

Save for a wholesale clean sweep of the administrations current advisors, including and expecially Mr Emanuel, this marks the beginning of the Lame Duck phase of the Obama administration.

Bet's he'll get a second term? I wouldn't count on that.

I posted a comment to Bill's 'reconciliation' article, but I had to respond here as well.
My husband and I live in Boston (with 4-year old son), and by now we all know Brown won.
Many reasons - people really are angry and frightened by the state of the economy. @ 10% unemployment in Mass, cuts to the state budget all over, but especially to the ones who really, really can't afford it. The schools are being hurt with budget cuts, and they were already trimmed beneath the bone.
Add to that the fact that Coakley ran one of the worst campaigns I've ever seen. A little over 2 weeks ago - before the polls noted the race as tightening - my husband mentioned that he had not seen one ad for Coakley since her primary win. Nothing in TV, nothing in print, nothing at all. Coakley seemed to have disappeared.
The Boston Globe ran an article talking about Coakley's 'style'. Coakley would go to a see a new mayor in Salem being sworn in, but would not stay and greet the people who were milling about to shake her hand, talk to her, etc... There was a contingent of union members who were there specifically to see her, but Coakley only met with a few of their leaders. She told the Globe it was up to the union leaders, the mayors, etc... to get out the vote.
I thought Coakley had some real qualifications (though I know she wasn't the first choice for a lot of people). But you would never know she was running for US Senate.
Maybe they just thought it was in the bag. In the middle of November (just 2 months ago), after the primaries, Coakley had a 58% to 27% lead over Brown. She was leading Brown by more than 2 to 1. And she lost!
Without any major gaffe, or sordid sex scandal, or...(you fill in the blank with the usual political meltdown).
Every GLBT person I know here in the state was voting - because we all knew Brown to be very anti-gay. He called Cheryl Jacques (former HRC Director, and former state senator in the same district as Brown) a "pretend parent", a "not normal parent". (I believe Jacques partner/wife was the bio mother of the children, Jacques the adoptive mom.) Not only that, but he never shied away from being cast as the anti-marriage equality politico in the State Senate. He 'owned' that title.
Though I will admit there is a real sense of dismay and weariness with this administration. Rather than seeing this parade of homo agenda items working their way thru congress, most people I know (and I need to include myself here) see Obama turning his back on promises made to the LGBT community. (e.g. this week we have the 'leak' that says Gates wants DADT review put off until 2012. Like the Dems will deal with it during a presidential election year...)
I don't know how this gets turned onto the LGBT community, though. That sounds far-reaching, and not by just a little bit.
Brown had taken great pains to portray himself as having no social agenda - he was for civil unions (like Obama, he kept saying), and marriage was a settled matter in Mass., he now had no interest in changing it. That was the official line during this election.
The ads in Mass were all about health care. Brown kept hitting on that one over and over. And Coakley's ads were all about how she was the one to save Obama's health care. Once or twice they would mention "Obama's agenda", but everything centered around health care in the commercial arena.
It seems to me that Obama got it wrong. The Dems didn't appear to be focusing on the economy, on people's jobs, on their homes. The Dems appeared content to see a jobless recovery.
Sorry for the meandering comment. It was a tough day in Mass yesterday.
But I am more saddened by what got us to yesterday than yesterday itself.