Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's A Thin Line Between Love and H8

...At least that’s the case for Gays and Lesbians who overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for President. Here is a group who loved the former Senator and had hope that he would be an advocate for their rights, even though he was not an all out supporter of “marriage” as a title or as a matter of Government law.
The dustup over Pastor Rick Warren being chosen to participate in Obama’s inaugural ceremony is the latest sign of discontent among Obama’s base. Here is another segment of Progressives who feel betrayed.

Some believe that this was a good move for Obama, because it will pay off in the long run. By triangulating early to get more evangelical support, he will have more latitude to get the kind of legislation he wants from the House and especially the Senate. I’m not so sure that this was a good move. It’s another example of Obama overcompensating in order to widen his appeal. Does he believe that in 2012, he will be able to count on the support of all those he is betraying…. Progressives, Liberal Democrats, Gays & Lesbians, etc? Does he believe that he will be able to gain enough support from Conservatives and Red State Evangelicals by 2012 to make up for the loss of support from many within his own base? Or perhaps he believes that because of the current economic situation, no one is really paying attention to these other issues of “principle” and the fact that he is already going back on many of the campaign promises he made.

I’m not so sure that he can count on Evangelical Conservatives, and traditional Red State Republicans making up for the possible weakening of his own base. Obama runs the risk of having Gays and Lesbians, Liberal Democrats, and Progressives….even a few independents, staying home in 2012. This is especially the case if he doesn’t fix the economy. If he has a lot of failures over the next 4 years, one thing he could rely on would be the loyalty from his base… but he seems to be cashing those chips in early for a Centrist/Right of Center gamble.

I am no staunch supporter of Gay marriage….at least not as a title. Although I believe that there should be Domestic Partnership rights and Federal laws protecting Gays and Lesbians. Now if Gays & Lesbians want to have private ceremonies of their own…they can call it what they want. But I won’t argue that point here…whether Gay marriage is right or wrong. What I want to point out is that I am annoyed that a man could so easily abandon those who have given him so much support and could so easily & quickly abandon principles for the sake of political expediency. That’s bothersome to me.

Rick Warren is a man who was a strong supporter of Proposition 8, the referendum outlawing Gay marriage in California. But in addition to that, Warren has made troubling comments about the Gay and Lesbian community, likening those in that lifestyle to criminals, and child rapists. I understand Obama’s attempts to reach out….but it’s how far he is willing to reach, and how contorted he is willing to get, for his own political benefit that is so troublesome. Even a man who is willing to reach out should be anchored by at least some core principles. Abe Lincoln had them, and Obama is using (at least in part) Lincoln’s reaching out as a basis for his attempt to build a good Cabinet. Reagan also had these core Principles. As did Kennedy, MLK, Mandela, and FDR. All of the great leaders of the past Century were anchored by certain core values and these values typically weren’t for sale. Is this something that Obama is misunderstanding about great leaders and coalition builders…that there are certain values that you should try to avoid abandoning, as well as people you shouldn’t want to abandon?

From what I understand, there were many other Pastors who could have been considered for the inaugural invocation…. Moderate Conservative Pastors who could have accomplished what Obama wanted to accomplish by placating both of the Constituencies that Obama should have been concerned with. Instead, he offended one…and is perceived by some as abandoning one constituency for another.

Yes, this may help Obama in the long run politically… but at the risk of alienating entire segments of the American populace. He runs the risk of looking like a man who is almost too calculating and someone who few will want to trust. When he needs the Progressive vote in 2012 it may be a harder sell. I doubt that the new Republican voters he is campaigning for now will be willing to vote for him in 4 years.

It’s another Obama gamble… in what is becoming a long list of gambles. I have a hard time believing that all of these moves will turn out as he planned.


PamalaLauren said...

I've found the backlash on this choice to be quite odd. As someone who ran on the premis that he'd reach across the aisle and work with everyone, it seems some of his supporters would rather see him not do that at all. Oddly enough this sort of belief, that only what they believe is right should happen, is what got us into the place we're at right now anyhow.

Change is reaching out to the entire nation and trying to do what's best for everyone as a whole. Change is not doing what your party or supporters deem as right.

It seems that people forget that as we fought against Prop 8 we were asking people to just be tolerant of those different, to respect and not hate and yet it seems now that those that were so passionately against Prop 8 are now turning into intolerant people. Because like it or not, there will be people who do not agree with our beliefs and it's okay for Obama to appeal to them as well.

Miriam said...

Doesn't he have four years to rectify that?

Toure Zeigler said...

I believe that all these progressives built up an image of Obama that was never real. Like you said, Obama was never for gay marriage so I think some folks saying he betrayed them is too strong.

Im not crazy about the choice of Warren but evangelicals and the christian right do make up a solid 40% of the voting bloc.

Besides this one issue, Im getting tired of all the liberal oitrage of Obama's decisions before he's even in office. It's as if they wanted him to be a super-liberal, like they actually bought the GOP's mantra that he was the most liberal senator. It's like everyone forgot that besides healthcare he had no major policy differences from Hillary Clinton who is a moderate. Liberals need to remember that their way of thinking has not won votes. For all the rights that they champion for they did not bring out the youth vote, the black vote in huge numbers or draw many independents...but Obama did.

Liberals lost elections to George Bush twice...if you cant beat a popular mishandling an unpopular war then they need to be quiet. They also need to remember that voters did not vote the DEMS in the 06 elections because they believed in liberal policies but instead because they wanted to see the GOP out of power.

All in all many of these progressives need to be quiet right now.

redante said...

I object to any suggestion that liberals and Progressives just be quiet and suck it up when it is perceived that Obama makes major decisions that appear to appeal more to his political opponents than to appeal to his base.

One big reason is that the Obama administration has no way of knowing what his base wants from him if the base keeps quiet. And that means listening to the base if they have critical things to say.

Another is that (as AI observed) he stands to lose the Progressive vote come the 2012 elections if he keeps on following the Democratic tradition of treating the Progressive base as a doormat and a red-headed stepchild. Can he win a second term with diminished support from the base?

This post says it well:

"What concerns me, above all, is what I see as the creeping triangulation of the Clinton style of politics, the idea that it is smart, clever politics to publicly diss your loyal supporters; that you look the other way when they are treated with contempt, condescension and ridicule, even by some Democrats who were never as early, strong and faithful supporters of Barack Obama as those expressing valid concerns."

I am an Independent who voted for Obama but who had major reservations about him. I appears with his major Cabinet picks and the Rick Warren brouhaha that my reservations are being confirmed. This is majorly disappointing and only adds to my cynicism about politics.

redante said...

And for the record my creeping disillusionment with Obama has little to do with ideology and wanting him to be more "left wing" than he really is. My objection stems from my disappointment with Democrats in general as a party that will stand firm with certain, basic principles in a major fight with the right wing and neoconservatives who have run this country into the ground.

Over the past decade, Democrats have capitulated to the Republicans and corporate interests on major issues such as NAFTA, so-called "welfare reform", the Iraq War, etc. Even a Democratic-controlled Congress has failed to enact a single reform. On the impending issues of healthcare and the economy, I expect Democrats will find some way to capitulate.

I expected Obama to represent a departure from the politics of capitulating to the right-wing and neo-conservatives.

rikyrah said...

Obama said during the course of the election cycle that he thought marriage was between a man and a woman. Now, outside of that, he's been the most obviously pro-gay candidate - EVER.


I wouldn't have chosen Warren. But then, I'm from the poke them in the eye camp.

And, I'm getting tired of gays trying to blame Black folks for their lack of gay rights. Keep on pushing the Black Bible Thumpers, and see what happens.

Toure Zeigler said...

The reason I say that liberals and progressives should suck it up and be quiet now is because we all paid close attention and knew what Obama was about. Obama is a centrist who believes in pulling in all factions to get things done.

I do not believe that this is another example of a Democreat pandering to liberals then running to the center. I agree that the Democratic party has shifted to the center and is as liberal as it should be to counter neoconservatives. However I believe that the liberal and progressive side of the party doesnt carry the weight that it used to have and more and more people are becoming independents. I think in the future the black vote and the youth vote will no longer be de facto Democrats and quasi liberals and because of that Obama has to play to independents.

I feel the opposite from you in that, a politician can appease liberals to shore up the base but they will never win a national election. When was the last time a liberal won a national election? Honestly I think liberals and progressives eventually need to leave the DEMS or vote independent vote an election or two because for all the outrage, no one believes that you will vote for the GOP and that you will always be de facto DEMS no matter how mad you get.

Brian said...


I am all for reaching across Party lines to get things done. But I'm not in favor of selling my Soul either.

And no... I don't believe that there is a Liberal or Progressive way that represents the only correct way.

But if he is reaching out... did he bring Gays and Lesbians into any of his inaugural planning committees...either as staffers or make sure they had a seat at the table? Did they get to submit a list of names of religious leaders who would be inclusive to all Americans?

I bet I could have found a list of a dozen Pastors who would have been acceptable to Conservatives, without being offensive to Gays and Lesbians.

Just for the record... the Gay and Lesbian issue is not a huge issue for me... but what caught my attention here was the lack of tact that was involved in the decisions. I also noticed how dispensable certain constituents are after they have provided their votes.

redante said...

Hello BC

OK I agree with you about Obama being a centrist and that he is more of a pragmatist who appears to be about wanting to get things done more than ideology. So your point is well-taken that no one should be surprised if Obama appears to be less liberal than many liberals expected.

The point that AI makes is what is getting to me -- how dispensible certain constituents are *after* they have provided their votes.

I will get off this tip for now because it is getting closer to Xmas and i'd rather not get into an ideological argument so close to the holidays. I've said my peace and will give the Obama administration a chance to prove itself after Obama actually takes office.

That said, I do think it is high time many Liberals and progressives think about what the Progressive strategy and goals for activism in electoral politics should be if electing Democrats time and time again has caused only disappointment.
This includes taking a critical look at structural reforms to help non-mainstream parties and independents participate equally in electoral politics.

Brian said...

*High Five to LAD*

I agree... i'm not going to be quiet. :)

I'm going to tone down the rhetoric though... I'll give Obama some time.

As I stated to Pamela.... The Gay and Lesbian issue itself is not an overriding issue for me... But what annoyed me was the way that this was handled.

If one part of his constituency could be so easily thrown under the bus.... then who's next? and what does my vote mean to him?

Like I stated... I am all for bipartisanship...reaching across the aisle, etc. After all, i'm an independent. But I am anchored by certain core beliefs.... beliefs that aren't for sale. Obama seems to be a walking Neon for Sale Sign... blinking 24/7.

@BC Planning...

No I don't want a Super Liberal. I'm actually more towards the middle on a lot of issues. Although overall... I am a Progressive...slightly left of Center... (right of Center on some issues).

I will admit... (and I have been thinking the same)... that I probably ascribed my own views of "hope"..."change"...etc.. on Obama, when in reality he never represented any of it. He was largely an illusion. But that is largely a result of being suffocated under 8 years of Bush...and 8 years of Clinton before that. Americans were so desperate for something different that they were willing to attach their hopes and dreams to anyone singing a different tune from what we have been hearing over the past several years.

With that said.... Obama has stood for Progressivism... whether it is with his Iraq policy, his policy on reducing nuclear weapons, or his policy of supporting the UN, his policy of supporting other international institutions, his policy on torture, his policy on climate change, his policy on jobs, tax cuts for Middle and lower income Americans, Transportation reform, his statements about transparency, his own statements about "turning the page" in Washington,....his statements about "fundamental change" in Washington, his statements saying (while running against Hillary Clinton) that Americans can't continue to support the same cast of characters (meaning Clinton and other insiders) and expect a different result in terms of a new politics in Washington.

Everything I mentioned above are policies he supports or statements that he has made. Taken one at a time... they don't necessarily paint an ideological picture. But taken as a whole, they point towards a more Progressive agenda.

Yet when he is finally elected.... he seems to push back against his own campaign rhetoric. One of the first things he does is fill half of his Cabinet with the same cast of characters that he railed against during the campaign. Pardon me for hoping for a few more fresh faces. I made the mistake of actually listening to Obama during the campaign.

Don't get me wrong... I want Obama to be successful...especially with the economic problems. But I also want a President rooted in something greater than himself. I don't want someone bending over backwards to satisfy his opponents at the expense of those who have been the most loyal.

I know that Progressives won't get everything they want...nor should they... (but was one Major Cabinet pick too much to ask for?... why not a strong visionary Progressive for a change as SOS?).

I hope Obama keeps reaching out.... he has to. But he could be more tactful when he's doing it. And if he's reaching out... I hope someone will remind him that Independents.... left leaning Independents and Progressives are also part of the Country. I'm not invisible.... and neither are Gays and Lesbians.

But it does raise an eyebrow when a political leader isn't tactful enough and compassionate enough to know how his decisions might affect a segment of his own base.

Anonymous said...

As an african american I find it extremely disheartening that Obama would choose such an outright homophobic. It's not Warren's stance on gay marriage. It's that he has equated gays to pedophiles. CHILD MOLESTERS.

What is equally as disheartening is the attitude of alot of my people. If Clinton would have had Rush Limbaugh at his inauguration, a man who thinks blacks are at the heart of the U.Ss problems, there would be a freak'n riot.

I'm not gay or lesbian but they have a legit beef here. I think he's making a huge mistake here. And for those "black bible thumpers" and their microscopic view of the world, expose them too. Sometimes I believe we get so caught up in "Black this, Black that, Black people, Black politics, Black everything, that we miss that "other" people are struggling for certain rights as well. I think we get lost when we don't even attempting to see things from another persons pov.

And for shame for all of those brotha's and sista's doing the right wings work for them as well in the Prop 8 vote. Bravo, your voice was heard.

rikyrah said...

The truth is, the Democratic Party has always had its own set of ' Bible Thumpers'. They are for the most part, BLACK. They are not just concentrated in The South - they're everywhere.

And nobody has shown me how ANY Democrat - not just Barack Obama - WINS WITHOUT these Black Bible Thumpers.

The truth is, most Black folk are conservative (little c).

Yes, I believe children should be raised in a 2 parent home.

Yes, I believe abortion is murder.

Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior sent by God to save us all.


I live in the real world.

I subscribe to the SOCIAL GOSPEL teachings of the Christian church, where words like poverty, helping your fellow man, 'Am I my brother's keeper', were routinely heard the 50 Sundays out of the year that I went to church until I turned 30. It's the teachings of the SOCIAL GOSPEL- which, until this Prosperity Gospel Hustle popped up - WAS the tenant of the Black church - across demoninations.

It is the teachings of the Social Gospel, combined with the belief that the GOP is racist, which makes Black folks Democrats, IMO. The Social Gospel influences our financial beliefs. The Democrats have lucked out that the GOP is so obviously wedded to their racism, and like a junkie, don't want to give up the habit.

If the mainstream GOP had been more Jack Kemp and less Lee Atwater, the Democrats would have been in trouble a long time ago.