Posts Tagged ‘debate’

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After the Victory Lap, Take a Moment for Hindsight

2015.June.26

Please, please, please celebrate all weekend. Then next week, or the week after, or say the end of summer at the latest, come back and contemplate this:

One of the secondary victories of today is that a wedge issue has been decimated.

Same-sex marriage did not become a national issue in the hands of the people who wanted those marriages, but in the hands of people who either A) wanted to extra-double-ban those marriages and/or B) pretend to do A just to get more conservative reactionaries into the polls.

As this tactic eventually led to backlash from LGBT communities and their allies, the added a C) divert activists and resources into turning that backlash into a movement, invariably at the cost of many other issues along the way. It’s not that this fight wasn’t important or necessary, it’s that a lot was sacrificed along the way.

In the nineteen years since the first shot was fired over same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, conservatism has run roughshod over almost every other issue in this country: education cuts, military spending, suffocating access to abortion, getting away with torture and wiretapping, dismantling net neutrality, media conglomeration, (lack of) finance reform, privatization, skewed trade agreements, the dismantling of American unions, the prison-industrial complex, bastardizing healthcare reform, and stalling out immigration reform.

In the time that we succeeded in having a national conversation over the right to marry, we have failed to have a national conversation over the fatality of being black in this country, the dehumanization of trans people, the quality of veteran care, the militarization of police, the urgency of climate change, waste and unsustainable practices in food/water/housing, the inadequacies of our two-party political representation, or whether $7.25 is anywhere close to a “living” wage.

Marriage equality has even created some fractures among the people it is supposed to benefit, LGBTQA-identified individuals. Some of the most prominent organizations fighting for marriage have been inconsistent at best and complicit at worst about trans erasure; their biggest campaigns have frequently failed to include perspectives of poverty, people of color, and immigrants, and change that is not intersectional is hardly change at all.

I put forth that marriage equality was inevitable, and that the most cynical of conservative strategists have always known so. Their battle, then, was never to prevent same-sex marriage, but to drag it out as long as possible, to normalize gay and lesbian relationships as little and as begrudgingly as possible (thanks in part to media and entertainment industries that could always be counted upon to show these relationships in the whitest, wealthiest, and most traditionally attractive ways, so that only a narrow expression of them became commonplace), to mobilize conservative voters with this single issue whenever possible, and to leverage this highly visible battle into real, long-term political consequences that slipped under the radar on pretty much every other front.

I don’t say any of this to steal a single tiny thunderbolt from this huge and hard-fought victory. All I’m saying is that now that this wedge has been defeated, we can’t lose momentum. We can’t decide to stay home now and keep our contributions to ourselves; those same cynical conservative strategists have already picked the next eight battles if we let them continue to set the narratives. Just look how fast they were ready to sacrifice the Confederate flag once the topic came around to gun control one too many time.

A lot of other hard battles are ready and waiting for you to carry your enthusiasm, your time, you money into the next struggle for equality, so don’t spend it all on celebrating. There’s still work to be done. Pick someone whose life doesn’t look like yours and listen to what they tell you they need. Those cheap equal-sign stickers will still be on your car in a month; who will they re-humanize next?

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I’m Your Biggest Fan – Don’t Fuck this Up!

2008.October.23

One of the themes I hope to develop with this blog is holding one’s own heroes accountable. Most voters will expect immediate and swift change after a new president is inaugurated, and they will expect it to happen with little-to-no attention on their part.

But that’s now how democracy works.

I want Obama to win, and I think he will. But I don’t want the millions of fervent supporters who got him into the White House to beam at him and slap each other on the back for a job well done. Our responsibilities as citizens do not end with the election of our candidate.

Obama won many of us over by saying the right things. Once he’s in office, we must make sure that he follows up by doing the right things.

The third debate would be a good example of a moment when we should expect more.

“I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings during the course of the campaign than addressing the issues that matter to them so deeply.” [except that this was in response to a question about negative campaigning; Obama used the issue itself to avoid the question]

“The notion, though, that because we’re not doing town hall meetings that justifies some of the ads that have been going up, not just from your own campaign directly, John, but 527s and other organizations that make some pretty tough accusations, well, I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks.” [The fact is, Obama has renegged on a couple of promises to McCain once they became politically inconvenient, and I haven’t quite forgiven him for one in particular.]

Where was that classic “disagree without being disagreeable” line Obama has been saying for months, maybe years?

“… what is important is making sure that we disagree without being disagreeable. And it means that we can have tough, vigorous debates around issues. What we can’t do, I think, is try to characterize each other as bad people. And that has been a culture in Washington that has been taking place for too long.” [At last! Only 10 minutes into a 15-minute topic…]

That debate was painful for me. If it hadn’t been for further slips by McCain only minutes later, I might have conceded this debate to McCain. I was quite sure that both had lost it, and was surprised to hear the positive reactions Obama received. I guess we should be grateful that Obama’s worst performance was still better than McCain’s best, but that’s the same kind of pervasive us-and-them mentality that gets our politics so messy in the first place. Most of the time, as long as voters feel like their candidate is saying what they want to hear, they think that person is winning. Few allow for the possibility that someone could be lousy at debate, but a good candidate, or vice versa.

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Why Not to Toe the Party Line…

2008.October.11

Getting involved with the Obama campaign locally gets you in with a lot of Democrats and you hear a lot of the good stuff about the Dems running for other offices. It’s easy for an Independent to get caught up in it, so that no matter how many times you’ve refused to donate to the party or vote straight-ticket, you still find yourself swayed on races you know little about.

After watching Thursday’s debate between incumbent Senator John Cornyn and his challenger, Rick Noriega, I had to admit that not only had Cornyn won the debate, he had also won a second (or, admittedly, first) look from me. In addition to being a superior debater, Cornyn made great statements about transparency and leadership that struck me as very genuine. Could it be he was no idealogue, but another of those rare politicians who wants to improve the political scene as much or more than promote his own agenda?

Could it be a choice between two decent candidates? I like Noriega. I think he’s a good candidate with a good background and a healthy amount of military and political experience. But I came away last night thinking I might like Cornyn, too, and promising to dig a little deeper. I’ll let you know what I find out.

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