Where do I start on this?
Those of us who have legitimate criticisms about the Democrats and the party leadership including (god forbid) President Obama are constantly berated with dire predictions that the Republicans will take over and we certainly don't want that do we?
My response to that is "What's the difference?" Seriously. What the hell is the difference. From my point of view there isn't much of one and "We suck less than the Republicans do" isn't exactly an inspiring campaign message.
I'm one of the resident contrarians here on DKos. I'm also a gay man. Early in the 2008 primaries I was an Obama supporter. I defended him during some of the early missteps in his campaign. Why? Because I felt he represented a real change. A real change from business as usual politics. Race certainly was a part of it. I felt as a man of African descent he would understand what it felt like to be discriminated against. I know he's tasted the foul, disgusting, bitter taste of discrimination. Combine that with his reputation as a Constitutional Scholar, I really thought he would be a champion for equality. I contributed to his campaign.
Then the McClurkin fiasco happened. I won't rehash it here, you can look at my previous diary on that. Obama lost me at that point and while I voted for him in the general, I am not an ardent fan as many around here are.
I'm going to back up a bit and give you some of my background.
I've been a Democrat for as long as I've been able to vote, which has been since 1982. My mother was a strong Democrat in what is now one of the reddest states in the country, Oklahoma. She was a local Democratic leader, and had she been a man she probably would have run for local or state office, but it still wasn't really possible for a housewife to run for political office in the 60's and 70's. She worked hard to get Democrats elected at every level from the local school board and city council to POTUS. She was important enough that she could pick up the phone and speak directly to Democratic powerhouses like Speakers of the House Carl Albert and Tip O'Neil. She knew them on a first name basis. Carl Albert used to visit our home during breaks. She was on the campaign staffs of Glenn English, David Boren, George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. I remember seeing her being interviewed on TV when she went to the Democratic conventions as a state delegate. She was a huge part of why Democrats dominated Oklahoma politics during the 60's and 70's. I remember spending entire summers assembling yard signs and helping to distribute them. Because of her I was a hard core veteran of Democratic politics before I reached the age of 10. I cried when McGovern lost and Nixon was elected in 1972. When Nixon resigned in 1974 we had a party.
My dad thought she was nuts. He was pretty much apolitical and voted Democratic to make my mom happy. I'm pretty sure he votes Republican now that she's no longer with us even though it goes against his own best interests.
The 1980s brought us Ronald Reagan and it was mom's last campaign as she had been diagnosed with MS. She worked hard to get Jimmy Carter re-elected and it just didn't work. She never ever said a bad thing about Ted Kennedy running against Carter in the primary. She never blamed him for Carter losing even though we know Kennedy severely damaged Carter during that brutal primary. The 80's saw the evisceration of the Democratic Party. Even though the Democrats were able to maintain majorities in Congress throughout Reagan's and even Bush's presidencies, the fire was gone. The Democrats went from being an almost unstoppable force to what they are today.
The 80's were largely a blur. I graduated from high school and joined the USMC. Mom made sure I received an absentee ballot for every election, even the little nothing local elections. By then most of the city and county political offices became non-partisan, but I knew who the Democrats were because I had grown up working next to them in countless campaigns. I remember being strongly encouraged to vote for Reagan while I was in the military. We were constantly being told he would be better for us than Mondale would be. I still voted for Mondale.
I came out "officially" on my 23rd birthday in 1986. By then I had been out of the USMC for 6 months. It was a milestone and not long afterward I became political. I had a very hard time understanding the Democrats I saw around me. They were lifeless and defeated. They couldn't get anything right. Oklahoma shifted from being solidly Democratic to solidly Republican. I was unable to find steady work so it was difficult to be deeply involved in politics. I moved out of Oklahoma in the summer of 1988. I voted for Dukakis that year knowing he had no chance of winning. It was what I called "the battle of the eggheads" both Bush and Dukakis were intellectuals. Bush had Reagan and the now well oiled Republican nastiness machine behind him and that's all he needed to trounce Dukakis.
In 1988, a new face appeared in Democratic politics. It was a young-ish governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton. There was some speculation he would join the 1988 presidential primary but he held off. Instead he waited until 1992. When he finally won the nomination, the Democratic party started to come back to life. There was a slim chance the young charismatic Clinton could oust the incumbent George H.W. Bush. I was too busy earning a living traveling around the country selling carnival food out of a trailer so I didn't pay much attention to what was going on, however when I got home I noticed for the first time a national candidate was asking me for my support and vote as a gay man. Clinton made promises like ending discrimination against gays in the military and for the first time the words "gay marriage" were spoken. Enthralled like the rest of my gay brethren, I contributed to and voted for Clinton and he won but barely only due to Perot siphoning votes off of Bush.
Two months later I was driving a van loaded with musical instruments from Ft. Lauderdale Florida to Washington, D.C. as part of the first openly LGBT group to ever be officially invited to a presidential inauguration. I still have the jacket we were given as part of our uniform. We froze our asses off, but there I was one of 15 saxophone players. Clinton was out of the limo, walking up Pennsylvania Ave. He stopped in front of us and gave us the biggest grin and a thumbs up. Three months later I was back in D.C. at the 1993 March on Washington, except it was more of a celebration than a protest. Later that year we got "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," first as an executive order then it was added to the Defense Authorization Bill. Clinton signed it into law.
I forgave him. Politics. In September of 1996 Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. To say I was furious would be putting it mildly. He didn't really have a choice as it passed by veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress, but he should have vetoed it anyway on principle. We were told to wait because even though Democrats were gay friendly as a part of the platform, not everyone was on board and he had to sign it in order to be re-elected, and that hopefully it would be repealed soon. We bought it and voted for him again that November. It was either him or Bob Dole...
I voted for Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008.
Now.. that's my Democratic cred. It spans roughly 40 years, longer than many of Obama's most ardent cheerleaders have been on the planet. I think I've earned the right to be critical and say my piece.
Obama campaigned in 2008 on the promise of change. Not small incremental change, BIG change. BOLD change. He won a hard fought primary and came out of it looking cool, calm, and collected. The penultimate cool black man. "I Got This" was a common caption of pictures of Obama during the run up to the General election. It was 1992 all over again in many many ways. Even though Obama went on LOGO and said he'd be a fierce advocate for LGBT equality if we would just vote for him, in practice he's done almost the same thing Bill Clinton did after he was elected, but maybe not quite as bad. At least he hasn't signed any new anti-gay legislation into law. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act is a good thing, but he can't really claim credit for it because Democrats in Congress had been trying to push that one through for years. His only contribution was signing it into law after it was passed.
DOMA was challenged in federal court. The Obama DOJ (Justice is part of the executive branch) fought the challenge using anti-gay talking points straight out of the GOP playbook, going as far as to push the discredited comparison between gays and pedophiles. Contrary to popular belief a) the administration does NOT have to defend every law Congress passes in court and b) even if it did, they could have refrained from using that specific discredited argument.
Obama made a promise to the LGBT community that DADT would be repealed by the end of the year. The House of Representatives has already passed a bill doing just that, but it's held up in the Senate, where of course all good legislation goes to die. Why? Because in April Obama backtracked on that promise and urged the Senate NOT to take it up until after a study was completed in early December.
Now a federal judge has declared the CA state constitutional amendment passed through Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Within hours Obama is quoted as saying as a Christian he still believes a marriage is between a man and a woman and that he supports Civil Unions but not full marriage rights.
Now, here's where my sense of irony kicks in. In spite of ALL of that I'm still expected to not only vote for Democrats but to campaign my ass off as if my life depended on it or else the Republicans are going to win and boy won't life suck if that happens.
From my point of view it doesn't much matter to me as a gay man. Sure the Republicans aren't going to vote in favor of equality, but the Democrats haven't exactly been turning themselves inside out to do it either. If I'm so damned important that Democrats can't win without my vote and the votes of the rest of the LGBT community, then why the hell do they keep treating our issues like they aren't important and keep pushing us to the back of the line or worse yet under the wheels of the bus?
If the LGBT vote is so damned important to Democrats then why the hell don't they act like it? "We Suck Less Than The Republicans Do" is not a good message. I'm sick of suck. If you want my money, my time, and my vote, then EARN it! You are not entitled to it. I've done my part for you it's your turn to do something for me!