Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Let's Call The Democrats What They Really Are: The Nibbler Party

Have we had enough yet? I don't know about you, but I certainly have.

This past Sunday, I went to Asbury Park and attended Jersey Pride. As is the norm for this annual event, the heat was oppressive, the festival was crowded, and LGBT's were lauding Democrats for doing exactly nothing useful to protect our basic civil rights and equality. The single actual politician I saw there is one of the good guys, Congressman Frank Pallone. Congressman Pallone has always been an ally of our community. He's marched with us, and he's always on the right side of our issues in Congress. It would be great if we had another 534 members of Congress just like him, but unfortunately we don't. What we do have is a White House and a Congressional leadership that say all the right things, issue plenty of oh-so-supportive-sounding press releases and proclamations, but then run the other way when it's time to back up all the pretty words with real leadership and action.

The hate crimes law, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the provision of a few benefits to federal employees, the appointment of a handful of LGBT's to government posts, these are all good things, important things, things we should appreciate and be thankful for, but any LGBT American who thinks this is credible support for our equal rights and treatment under the law is kidding themselves. Time after time, year after year, session after session, Democrats make promises to this community, throw us under the bus, delay action on our rights into oblivion yet again as soon as the going gets even a little rough, and then toss us what amounts to crumbs to soothe our anger in an effort to win our votes and support for the next election.

The Democratic Party, you see, really isn't very democratic at all.

Wikipedia, admittedly at times a questionable source, offers what I believe is a pretty good partial description of democratic principles as "...reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power...". It certainly sounds like the rhetoric we hear from the Democratic Party, but it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the country we actually live in nor to the way these people actually legislate. If the Democratic Party as a whole really believed in the principles of democracy and put them into action, if they legislated as if they really believed these things, LGBT equality would be a no-brainer.

Yet, that's clearly not what we see from those who call themselves Democrats, so I believe it's time we started calling them by a name that truly reflects the principles that guide the way they actually legislate: The Nibbler Party. It's far more accurate description of the way the Democratic Party approaches the rights and equality of LGBT Americans, managing to protect only relatively minuscule, politically-convenient handfuls of LGBT Americans from discrimination and offer them just a paltry few benefits. Incremental baby steps that do little or nothing to help the vast majority of unemployed and underemployed LGBT Americans, with Blue Dogs whining all the way and a Party leadership which still clearly lacks the spine to really get serious about treating all Americans fairly and equally.

So I say from now on, let's call 'em the Nibbler Party. It'll remind us when we go to vote that we can't really expect Nibblers to seriously fight for LGBT Americans if it inconveniences the Nibbler Party in even the slightest way, nor can we expect Nibblers to expend any serious political capital on our behalf. We'll know and understand that when it comes to LGBT equality the only constituency we can count on the Nibbler Party to protect is itself, and the only jobs Nibblers will be really concerned about protecting in the end are their own. It'll help LGBT and allied voters understand that the best we can hope for from the Nibbler Party isn't real progress toward a better life for all LGBT Americans, but only these minor, easy-to-deliver legislative and regulative crumbs which look good on election season mailers, handouts, and Pride Month proclamations, sound great mixed with their empty rhetoric, unkept promises, and valueless sloganeering from HRC dinner podiums, but in reality offer little if any real help to the vast majority of LGBT Americans still unemployed or underemployed as a result of the rampant unchecked anti-LGBT bigotry and discrimination that remains so much a part of modern American culture, a community still suffering what is nothing less than a full-blown employment and economic crisis in most of the US.

An informed electorate is always a good thing, and so we should do our best to make sure that LGBT and allied voters understand that if they cast their votes for Nibblers instead of working to replace them with actual leaders, what we'll keep getting is merely nibbles, small, half-hearted, pathetic attempts to look like they're taking on our issues, but without ever actually delivering anything truly significant nor really helping to improve the lives of any LGBT's except for the tiny numbers who make up the most politically convenient and advantageous sub-segments of our community for the Nibblers themselves. We need to make sure that rank-and-file LGBT voters know before they go to the polls that Nibblers aren't really leaders on the issues that matter most in their lives, they only want us to believe they are so that we'll vote for them and fund their campaigns, enabling them to go back to Washington, nibble some more, and then come back in a couple of years at election time and tell us yet again that it's progress.

Perhaps if we begin injecting some honesty into how we describe the legislative behavior of the Nibblers when they're called upon to act on their stated principles we'll be able to convince more of them to start acting like they deserve to called Democrats.

1 comment:

MaggieL said...

The only have to be perceived as slightly better than Republicans...enough for LGBT folks to vote for them. After that, who need us?

This is the weakness of identity politics.

After the performance of the Clinton administration, how could anybody be surprised by Obama?