Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Playing Politics with People's Lives

I know I should be furious that the Senate blocked the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Tuesday.  I'm sure I'll be angry soon, but right now I'm just sad, terribly sad, that once again our government is playing politics with people's lives.  I haven't even been able to watch Rachel Maddow since the Congress blocked the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal.  I can't even hear my side talk about the issue.

Make no mistake about it: LGBT people are not the only ones to be used as pawns in this election year.  Immigrants, Muslims, women -- there's a litany of groups that have been exploited for political purposes.  And make no mistake about this: while Republicans may be the most egregious in using the disenfranchised for political gain, the Democrats also must share the blame.

We should all remember that President George Bush Sr., back in 1990, suspended the military ban on gay people during Operation Desert Storm.  That's right.  A Republican President simply signed a piece of paper that allowed LGBT people to serve.

For almost two years, the Democrats did nothing to repeal the DADT policy.  Until now.  It is not a coincidence that it was brought before Congress right before the elections.  There is a great "enthusiasm gap" between liberal and conservative voters this fall.  The conservatives are energized; the liberals are not.  The oldest political tool in the book is to energize the base when things look tough.  Bringing DADT before Congress now was meant to energize the base.  That is playing politics with people's lives.  The Democrats are guilty of this, even if less so than the Republicans.

We only have to look at Deval Patrick here in Massachusetts to see what leadership is around LGBT issues.  Within a year of becoming governor, he rallied lawmakers and leaders to keep the issue of gay marriage off the ballot.  He met with individuals.  He twisted arms.  He convinced lawmakers to do the right thing.

We need that sort of leadership now from President Obama.

I'll get angry soon, but right now I'm tired of anger.  But give me time.


  1. Good post. I agree with almost every point, especially the need for leadership from Obama. I do not agree, however, that Republicans are more inclined than Democrats to play politics with people's lives. Both parties are equally guilty of using people as a means when it suits their purposes. Each party is equally willing to play the divide and conquer game to win seats.


  2. Thanks for commenting, Deborah. Interesting idea about the inclination of both parties to play politics with people's lives equally. That's food for thought.