Politics is the art of the possible – Otto von Bismarck
Clearly, ole’ Otto was a product of his time, not ours. In this day and age, politics is the art of sticking to your guns and hoping that 50.1% of the people you can get away from their televisions long enough to vote hate you less than they hate the other side. It’s the art of screaming at the top of your lungs that you’re the representative of all that is good and holy, and that anybody who disagrees is the devil’s vanguard. It’s the art of choosing to do nothing if you can’t do exactly everything you want.
Obviously, the preceding paragraph will have most readers of P.C.H.A. thinking of the reactionary Republican House of Representatives. But, as recent events have shown, important forces within the Democratic Party are just as tone-deaf to the damage their crusades are doing to moving the country closer to where it needs to be.
It’s just a question of who will light the match that finally burns down the Obama village in order to save it, unions or gay rights advocates.
I believe strongly in unions. All of the gains that made middle class Americans the envy of the world came from union struggle. The decline of unions unsurprisingly coincided with the rise of income inequality and the unprecedented concentration of wealth (see: St. Reagan, Ronald).
That said, what a bunch of fucking morons.
To say that the union movement in America is all but dead is probably an understatement. Unions have allowed themselves to be painted as the reason for America’s decline by the “job creators” (see: oligarchs), while simultaneously being shut out of representing the workers of the service economy. Any American under the age of 40 would have to rack their brain to come up with recollections of any relevant action by a union that didn’t represent athletic millionaires.
So, the protests of 2011 against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights were one of the most heartening things to happen in America in a while. Just as it seemed the only active force in politics were people who thought taxes should be abolished, the people of the storied liberal state of Wisconsin showed there was untapped force on the other side. That the bill was ultimately passed was unfortunate, but not that discouraging. You can’t expect a coma patient to jump out of bed and run a marathon… it was just nice to see it up and walking around.
So, what did the union forces, in the guise of PAC United Wisconsin, do? Did they use the energy of the people to start building a strong foundation toward a return to relevancy? Of course not… they wanted what they wanted now. They tried to recall Walker and got throttled. Instead of simply hating Walker and his tactics, the voters of Wisconsin had to decide whether they believed that a duly elected representative should be taken out of his post for his legal actions and replaced with the guy he’d beaten two years ago. While spotlighting Walker in the only relevant election in the country until November, instead of facing him as part of a regular cycle in two years when out-of-state money would have its eye on other races as well. Of course, the forces behind the recall are complaining that the only reason they lost is because of the unfair unlimited outside money that swamped them, as if the world should be as it should be instead of how it is, as if anybody who has heard the words Citizen United couldn’t see what would happen.
As P.C.H.A. has said before about the Scott Brown election, it’s silly to draw too many national conclusions about a local election, which is decided on all sorts of unique dynamics. But, a setback after such a long-awaited sign of life doesn’t bode well that unions understand what a long way back they have. And it certainly doesn’t help Obama’s growing aura of impotence.
I strongly support gay marriage. Gay couples should have all of the same rights as straight couples, and it’s impossible to argue otherwise unless you are willing to argue that being gay is somehow wrong.
But, when did the fucking Democratic party get together and decide that gay marriage is the most important issue in the U.S. and deserves a permanent place at the front of the line.
Even suggesting that gay couples should wait their turn makes me feel like a suburban white-flight get-off-my-lawn dad from the ’60s, which needless to say I don’t like. Believe me, I understand that the obvious and correct rejoinder is “How can you delay human rights”? Granted.
But, that doesn’t change the fact that putting that belief ahead of all others in Presidential politics has destroyed or delayed many other parts of the liberal agenda that are just as important.
In 1992, President Clinton was goaded into acting on gays in the military right out of the box. The political capital that was squandered in order to create the universally hated “don’t ask, don’t tell” helped to lead to the defeat of not only a very viable health care reform bill, but almost all of his campaign agenda. He was able to win a second term by declaring “The Era of Big Government is over” and giving Wall Street all the things they wanted. Big win for the liberals.
In 2004, gay rights advocates thought a close-but-winnable election was the time to start pushing for the legalization of gay marriage. And while San Francisco Mayor Newsom did wonders for his political career, he also gave George Bush a wedge issue that distracted away from his abhorrent record. 120,000 votes in Ohio gave him a second term, and as lame as Kerry was, I think we can all agree four fewer years of Bush would, at the very least, been addition by subtraction.
In the past four years, gay marriage has moved closer to reality than would have seemed possible even a handful of years ago. Most of the progress has been made at the state level, which shuts most conservatives up, because, hey, it’s a states choice, right? So, did gay right advocates choose to continue to run a winning ground game, and prudently stay away from the federal level (especially the Roberts Court, which will undoubtedly smack down any gay rights lawyer stupid enough to come their way)? Of course not… they wanted what they wanted right now. Gay donors groused and withheld donations until they forced Obama to come out and say what they knew he believed anyway. Even though he had already done more for gay rights than any other President ever. Even though never, not once, never, has the issue of gay marriage won on a ballot in the United States of America, not even in fucking California. Even though, given that gay rights in the U.S. is far ahead of those in all but a handful of other countries, issues like health care and wage inequality are arguably more important to most gay constituents than the difference between marriage and civil unions.
Now, evangelicals who have to hold their noses to vote for moderate, cult member Mitt Romney will be able to bond with him over their shared intolerance. And any liberal gains that need another term (at least) to be cemented are again on the sideline because of one issue that is moving steadily toward the desired resolution anyway.