We had to destroy this party in order to save it
There has been a rift growing within the Democratic Party between the progressives who have the silly idea of picking a principle and sticking to it versus the DLC-moderate-Republican-Lite wing who are desperately trying to find just the right triangulation to woo both lovers of liberty and the knuckle-dragging pre-Enlightenment crowd.
Pam blogged about the latest efforts to re-closet the homos (Shhh! Quiet, faggots, we’re trying to win an election here!) and silence the few Democrats of principle who actually resonate with the grassroots (Shhh! Quiet, Hackett, we’re trying to employ our time-honored election winning techniques here!). In response, some people have pointed out that this is no time to have rock-solid principles; we need to be pragmatic about winning elections (paging Markos Moulitsas Zuniga…) because, after all, with Democrats in charge we have some hope, but with Republicans in charge, we’re doomed.
I used to think the same thing with respect to drug law reform. I worked my ass off to help Bill Clinton get elected, figuring, hey, he and Gore admit to smoking pot; they’ve GOT to have better understanding of the issue.
What did I get? An INCREASE in the drug war. A record-shattering 770,000 Americans PER YEAR arrested and incarcerated for marijuana “crime”, 80% of them for mere possession. A tenfold increase in the incarceration of women for the drug “crime” of conspiracy charges, because their husbands/boyfriends involvement in trafficking and these women’s lack of anyone higher up on the food chain to snitch upon. A massive increase in the companies that piss test their employees, and a Supreme Court that first allows schools to piss test student athletes, then any student in extracurricular activities (oh, those Chess Club kids and their crazy heroin binges!), to now considering piss testing ANY student (teach ’em young how to submit to fascist authority.)
Why did that happen? Because Repugs control the frame, and the frame was Dems were soft on crime, so Dems have to puff up their chests and say “no sir!” and lock up more addicts and innocent people to the tune of the world’s largest prison population (2,000,000 and counting) and a country where 1 in 3 black men is under correctional supervision (prison, parole, or probation) and more black men are in prison than college.
So, as God’s Oil Party sets the frame on gay marriage, do you REALLY think that shushing the queers in pursuit of red state “values” voters is going to work? They already think we’re (and by we, I mean you Democrats; I’m a Pacific Green now) the party of Sodom. To paraphrase Harry S Truman, if you give the voters a choice between a homophobe and homophobe, they’ll pick the real homophobe every time.
Suppose it works. Suppose Dems back off from being ardently pro-choice and tepidly pro-gay. Suppose they win majorities in the House and Senate, and dare we dream, the Presidency. You think then they suddenly grow a spine and legalize gay marriage and codify abortion rights?
Or do they, as career politicans, realize that throwing the fags and the women under the bus (or at least keeping them in the back of it) is what got them their jobs and they better keep doing that in order to keep their jobs?
Hey, I agree that the modern Repugs are just slightly left of fascism, and that they make no bones about criminalizing homosexuality, drug use, and abortion. But at least they honestly stand for something. At least they respect and court their base. By doing so, they set the terms of the debate and Dems are relegated to playing catch-up.
As Blender Marla has noted, it is time for constructive destruction. I believe the American electorate is a slumbering giant. More than half of us don’t bother to vote at all — why should they when the choice is evil vs. less evil? The giant will remain asleep until something really bad happens.
So, with Dems we’ll get half-hearted support and (at best) halfway let’s-not-offend-the-Bible-beaters measures like “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, civil unions, and “partial-birth” abortion bans which will piss off a tiny minority, but will seem relatively fair to the giant who has no stake in the matter. Little by little, like the frog in the slowly heated kettle of water, the giant won’t even notice as his freedom and rights are curtailed.
But with Repugs, we may get open, visible, cruel discrimination against gays (see Laurel Hester). We may get criminalization of abortion. We’ll get sudden, shocking changes to our way of life. The giant’s daughter will face a criminal investigation of her miscarriage. The giant’s gay son will be locked up following a bathhouse raid. The giant was perfectly okay snoozing on the couch watching American Idol, but now he’ll be outraged by this government’s intrusion into his peaceful slumber (see Terri Schiavo).
And when this giant awakes, he does freaky radical things like throw crates of tea in Boston Harbor, secede from the Union, riot in the streets for unionization, march from Selma to Montgomery, and burn bras and draft cards.
Do I advocate voting Republican? Not a chance. No need to carry the kindling for your own burning at the stake. But definitely work in the primaries to unseat DINOs. Write letters to their fundraisers saying “Not one penny more until you STAND for MY rights!” Let your Democrats know that you’ll either be sitting out the next election or voting third party (especially at the local level).
Because until you demand another choice, you’re still left with cowabunga or death.