Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Getting Real in 2009

2008 will be remembered as the year we, as a nation, slid all the way to the edge of the abyss. 2009 will be defined by whether or not we go over it.

Just thought that, on this day when we're all reflecting, I would clarify things a little.

The national attitude -- on both Left and Right -- worries me. It seems to be, "Well, now we've elected Obama, and it's up to him to save us."

It's up to us -- all of us -- to save ourselves. And it always has been.

Just like Candidate Obama, President Obama will only do what he thinks the voters want him to do. He has not been elected King, and he certainly isn't a superhero.

I don't care how many gays, or women, or Blacks, or Latinos he has in his cabinet. Nor do I care who he gets to pray at his inauguraton. I care about what he does afterwards. I care how his administration impacts our lives in the years to come.

That's where WE come in. He will do what we tell him to. IF we vote, and work hard at the grassroots, and continue to make our voices heard.

Slavery existed, as an institution in this country, for three hundred years. This was because the people permitted it. When enough of them got tired of it, they got rid of it. Lincoln's help was, indeed, invaluable when the moment came. But the moment came because the people (or at least enough of them) decided that they were ready for it.

Progressives will always be in the minority. We've just spent a year commemorating the Democratic National Convention of 1968. What was that all about? Hello -- the conservatives held all the power, and they tried to keep the progressives out in the cold.

Those who gripe about this situation now (and I have been guilty of this myself) are forgetting history. This situation is not new. In '68, the people depended too much on the outcome of the election, and when Nixon came in, they let the movement stall.

Hello again -- what can we learn from that?

No matter who had been nominated by the Democrats that year, or who had been elected, I'm afraid the story would have been pretty much the same. IF we, the people, had continued to change hearts and minds, we could have transformed the country (even more than we did) from the grassroots up.

Riots and temper-tantrums do not change things in any positive way. They are the actions of those resigned to being on the outside, and they GUARANTEE that those people will stay there. These are nothing more than a form of terrorism, and like terrorism, they bring nothing but grief -- and guarantee further powerlessness.

We are displeased with the selection of Rick Warren to pray at Obama's inauguration, and we should be. The President-Elect knows that now. Let's see what he does with that knowledge, and let's make sure he does the right thing with it.

If he doesn't deliver for progressives over the next four years, I will vote next time for somebody else. I don't care if he or she is a Democrat or a member of the New Turnip Party. Let's be inside that party convention hall four years from now -- and inside of the Republicans', too. Let's study '68, figure out why we were left outside, and work to change that. And by all means, let's begin in '09.

Had it been up to those running the Republican Party today, we would still have slavery in this country. The progressives have been shut out of the Party of Lincoln, too.

A hundred and fifty years ago, progressives refused to be silent. On Election Day 2008, we also demanded to be heard. But now we're sitting passively back again and hanging on every word out of our new messiah's mouth.

Well, I have only one Messiah, and He is Jesus Christ. I am a progressive because Christ was a progressive. No matter how loudly and persistently the Right-Wingers slander us, they cannot change the fact that this is true.

Let us resolve, together, that we will not sit down, we will not shut up, we will not go away, and we will not succumb to the helplessness of impotent rage. Let us resolve, here and now, that we will stand up, we will speak out, we will stick around and we will fight our battles from the inside -- where we rightfully belong.

If we don't, then not only our country, but our civilization will be over.

We belong at the grownups' table. We belong inside the convention hall. We belong inside the voting booth, as well. The Obama people are already looking ahead to 2012. But we voted once, and we must vote again.

Let's make 'em deal with 2009 first. This year was the year we halted our mad rush to destruction. Let's make next year the year we begin to turn it all around.

Let's get real in 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pray Tell

Like almost everyone else in the national GLBT community, I am not cheered at the prospect of a rich, homophobic business-preacher like Rick Warren praying at Barack Obama's inauguration. I have, in an earlier post, already made it quite clear what I think of Warren and his Wall-Mart church. But, like about half of us, I have decided that it doesn't mean anything particularly dire for us. Knowing what we already do about President-Elect Obama, and about the Democratic Party as it exists today, it is par for the course.

Obama has made it clear that his administration will be "bipartisan." I don't think much of "bipartisanship," as the Democratic Party seems to use the term today. To me, it smacks of the same old "centrism," all dolled-up in a bright and shiny new package. But the Progressive brand has been so badly damaged by the Right Wing's thirty-year smear campaign against it that if Obama were to come out of the gate as far to the Left as his principles -- as he has already very clearly expressed them -- indicate that he should, he would never be permitted, by the conservative establishment still so entrenched in power, to govern.

That is OUR challenge: to more the political machinery (which consists of so much more than just Obama, and at so many levels) to the Left. We never had any reason to believe we could merely sit passively by and let one politician do it all for us. And, for all his progressive principles, Barack Obama is still a politician. Surprise! But really, shame on you if you didn't know that.

As a political gesture, this is brilliant. The Nutball Right cannot credibly go on crying about how victimized they are if the new President duly genuflects to Pope Rick. And a mere genuflection is all this is. It makes no law and sets no policy.

What all too many are overlooking is that the other pastor invited to pray at the Inauguration, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, is about as progressive, inclusive and gay-friendly as they come. What Obama is trying to do is show a balance. Just as he's been saying he would, all along. Hello?! He DID, indeed, tell the country he was going to do that, remember?

Obama, like most straight people, does not think about gays as often as we do about ourselves. That doesn't make us selfish; it is only natural. But it's only natural for straights, too. To him, Rick Warren is a prominent (these days, probably the most prominent) representative of conservative Christianity -- and a good deal less reactionary, even toward gays, than some of the other characters he might have picked. So - whether we like it or not -- it's doubtful that he thought, specifically, about Warren's homophobia before he chose him.

Though I see no major problem with Pope Rick's little prayer, however, I disagree with those who say we shouldn't have protested it. By all means, we ought to flex our mucles, loudly and often. The Religious Wrong has no intention of being quiet or passive. And the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

What our indignation -- loudly expressed as it has been -- tells the new President and the Congress is that we are watching very closely, and that we're not going to shut up or go away. President-Elect Obama has made promises to us -- promises, I might add, unparalleled by those of any other President in history. We have no intention of forgetting that, nor will we back down if they're not kept. We need pay no mind to the threats raised against us by the Religious Wrong, as they warn us not to get too loud or too proud. Getting loud and proud hasn't hurt them any, and as idiots are going to say idiotic things, it is to our political advantage to let them go on making damned fools of themselves.

Will they go on crying about how victimized they are? Of course they will. Only now, no reasonable person in this country will listen to them. We, on the other hand, would have sent a message of weakness and ineffectuality, had we merely accepted Warren's presence at the Inauguration without putting up a fight. Whenever bullies preach reasonableness and passivity, we know we've got 'em cornered for sure.

We are flexing our muscles, making our voices heard and refusing to let ourselves be trampled upon or shoved out of the way. Good for us. And after the Inauguration, when the real business of governing begins, we must get still louder and prouder and exercise those muscles every chance we get. There's a new spirit in our community. The sleeping giant has been awakened, and we must resist every effort to lull us back to sleep.

The gesture has been made, but our message has been sent. And at Barack Obama's inauguration, we will hear not only Pope Rick, but also the good Rev. Lowery.

Pray tell!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"This is Drugs. This is Free Speech on Drugs. Any Questions?"

It is utterly irrelevant, to me, that many Right-Wingers -- particularly of the religious sort -- consider the Constitution an inconvenience and do not understand the concept of freedom of speech. Evidently, from them, we can expect nothing better.

They babble some nonsense about "God's law" trumping "man's law." But what they mean is, THEIR conception of "God's law." In this irrational lack of anything approaching godly humility, they and the Taliban are two peas in a pod. And, like their Islamist allies (whom they only pretend are their enemies), these Christianist fanatics are beyond reason. They can only be contained, and dealt with as firmly and resolutely as possible.

What we must do is reason with with those supposedly sane folks who call themselves "centrist" or "bipatrisan" (the newest euphemism for "centrist") who don't seem to understand free speech, either.

Free speech means being able to say what you think without fear of governmental persecution. It does NOT mean that everybody has to agree with you, or that -- as if it were all some sort of schoolyard game -- the first person to speak up gets to say what he or she wants, but nobody else can comment on what they've said except to agree with them. The First Amendment protects your right to speak. It does NOT protect your imagined "right" to shut up everyone who disagrees with you.

Freedom of religion is yet another concept neither Right-Wingers nor many "bipartisan centrists" seem to grasp.

You have the right to live according to your own religious beliefs. You do NOT have the right to force your beliefs on others, or to try to make them behave according to your beliefs.

Why is this so hard for the Wingnuts to understand? The answer is that they are intellectually dishonest. They DO understand, but they don't want to admit it.

And why not? Because then all the "bipartisan" folks will know what liars they are, and the game will be over.

It is time to stop putting up with cowardly confusion from the press or from "bipartisan" politicians. They depend upon us for their jobs. If they refuse to deal in the truth, then we should fire them and send them packing.

There is NO Constitutional right to force others to pay you. That would be theft, and the very idea is ridiculous.

No one who cannot demonstrate even so much as an eighth-grade-level understanding of the Constitution should even be eligible for public office. Nor should any applicant for a position in the media be considered for a job if they cannot demonstrate at least this very minimal level of qualification.

Above all else, we must insist that people stop pretending they don't understand the truth when, in fact, they would be idiots not to. Most of these people are not idiots, they are merely liars. Dishonesty seems to be their drug of choice. They've gotten hopelessly hooked -- and it's time, now, for the rest of us to effect an intervention.

We can't very well stop the lunacy in the Middle East if we can't even stop it here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Free Ride for Traitors

In talking with a friend today from the Lutheran church I recently left, I learned that the atrocities continue to mount. (She doesn't see this as an atrocity, but I most certainly do.) Even though Right-Wing churches all over the greater Phoenix area had up signs urging the passage of Arizona's anti-gay-marriage amendment, Proposition 102, there was much controversy and hand-wringing, at my supposedly GLBT-inclusive former church, over the "No on 102" sign someone posted outside of it.

They just "had to" take it down. Separation of Church and State, don't you see.

I demand -- I DEMAND -- an end to the tax-exempty status of every church that actively agitates against people's constitutional rights, yet persecutes churches that take a stand in opposition to their position. While Right-Wing churches feel free to do whatever they damned well please politically, we on the Left are hobbling ourselves by holding ourselves -- and ourselves alone -- to a stricter standard.

Anyone who voted for Proposition 102 in Arizona, Proposition Hate in California, or any like legislation, is a traitor to this country and a traitor to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Religious Right has been so totally corrupted by their own unbridled and unprincipled involvement in politics that it has thrown in to the service not of Christ, but of Antichrist.

The wingnuts' persecution of the United Church of Christ, during the presidential campaign, should have been the very last straw on this double-standard. Those who love freedom, in this country, are now in an undeclared war against those who would destroy religious freedom in the United States. A state of war against them will continue to exist until they are defeated, and until their churches are forced to pay taxes as they should. If they insist upon ruling over us as tyrants, then they are no longer churches, and they no longer deserve public support.

They have gotten a free ride at taxpayer expense quite long enough.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hopes for Magic Jesus

I'm sorry, but I've already reached "Tilt" in my ability to tolerate GLBT whining -- from both Right AND Left -- about what President-elect Obama might or might not do in office concerning gay mariage.

I get the distinct impression they weren't voting -- either yea or nay -- on that nice, very intelligent and humane man from Illinois, but on Magic Jesus.

Gay Democrats are hoping that after his inauguration, President Magic Jesus will immediately don his red cape, take up his magic wand and declare gay marriage fully legal in all fifty states.

Gay Republicans are gloating because -- of course -- President Magic Jesus will NOT do that, so they think this means they're justified in clinging (pathetically and beyond all logic) to the GOP.

A bit of reality here, please. At this point in time, Obama either (A) genuinely does not believe in gay marriage (a distinct possibility), or else (B) cannily grasps that the time is not yet right to try and push it, because it would stir up a backlash so severe it would likely end up setting back the cause for years (if not decades) to come.

I don't know which he really believes; I cannot read the man's mind. He claims to believe in Option "A," and even if "B" is actually more accurate, of course he isn't in any position, politically, to come right out and say so.

My beliefs line up pretty much with Option "B." It would be stupid and totally counderproductive to push for full gay marriage right now.

Furthermore, at whatever stage it is to be considered, the President of the United States will not be the one to implement it.

That's where WE come in. This is our fight, and it is up to us to win it. We need to quit passively sitting back and waiting on powerful straight people -- who, in order to get and hold their power, must appease millions of other straight people -- to do our fighting for us.

True, I have no plans to get married in the near future, legally or otherwise. I am a gay bachelorette -- in the very best sense of the term -- and right now I'm enjoying that. Like a happy little bee, I am flitting from flower to flower, sampling all the tasty nectar I can. There's a pretty good chance that by the time I am ready to settle down, gay marriage (or at least civil unions) will be legal in enough localities that I and my blushing bride will be able to avail ourselves of the opportunity.

That is not, however, the reason why I hold the view I do. No matter how ready for the ball-and-chain I might personally be, it isn't going to become an option for me any sooner than circumstances permit. To the degree that those circumstances are within my control, I intend to do my best to help bring them about. Beyond that, I'd be wasting my time to worry.

In the meantime, I must admit, I don't want anybody screwing things up so badly that they put the option out of reach for me and everybody else alive in the foreseeable future.

And that means ANYBODY. Not even Magic Jesus.