Some Folks Have Forgotten About Bush

Not, not just the RNC, who spent their entire convention pretending he never existed, but also the manarchist left. Both parties are fascists, they say.
I’ll just note that everybody I’ve heard say this is a straight, white, cis man. Rmoney is currently polling at 0% with black people. Probably because he’s running the most racist campaign I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. But I guess if racism doesn’t matter to you, the parties are equal. And if you’re cis and didn’t have to worry about doctors refusing to treat you on account of being trans, a situation that has changed over this summer, I guess the parties are equal. And … you know what. I’m going to cut this section short. Anybody who has been paying even the tiniest bit of attention to social issues knows there is a massive gulf between the parties and the only way one could claim equivalence is to completely brush aside the concerns of women, of LGBT people, of people of colour and of several other groups.
But on some level, the manarchists are right. The parties only disagree on some issues and march in lock step with whatever their corporate masters agree on. There is a lot of stuff that is not up for debate that the parties absolutely agree on. They’ve got us over a barrel. If we split the vote on the left or if we just stay home, then Rmoney wins and that does have a very real effect on the lives of many vulnerable groups.
Political leaders don’t lead. They follow. They follow money and they follow social movements. It takes years to build a movement. Occupy is fantastic, but it’s new and hasn’t yet had a chance to make a major change in things. If there’s nothing been building on the left for a while, then there’s nothing for the politicians to follow.
Nobody has EVER voted in positive political change. Political parties are not movements. You’re not going to get a socialist utopia through the ballot box. Ever. Positive political change has always come from the streets and it always will come from the streets. If you’re disappointed by your major party options on the left, then go spend some time hanging out with Occupy. Join a union. Join a march. Show up for things. Make noise. Get active.
If voting didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be a massive coordinated plan to disenfranchise people across the US. The people being disenfranchised are poor, are black, are transgender, are students, and are old. This matters..
In 2000, I remember people saying that Bush and Gore were both in the hands of corporations, that it didn’t matter who won. It really fucking mattered. Rmoney is not better than Bush. Four more years of stupid will destroy America.
There will be nothing left of out economy or our social safety net or of anything that made us great.
No, you don’t have to vote and nobody who wants a socialist welfare state or who wants peace is going to get elected to the presidency. Voting, like paying taxes and jury duty, is an unpleasant civic duty. You do it because it’s how society functions and because you love your country and because you care about your fellow citizens and because of your own self interest in hoping the dollar doesn’t crash. If you can’t do it for you, do it for me. I’ve only had the right to purchase healthcare in America for the last month or so. I’d kind of like to hold on to that right.

Gay Marriage Fails in Maine

“If you put it up to the vote of the people, we’d have slavery again.” —Jesse Ventura on CNN, 11/3/2009
I don’t much care for Ventura, but he has a point here. Most civil rights protections in the states have been expanded via case law, not by the ballot box. In fact, I think the whole concept of civil rights is at odds with voting on them. The idea is to protect minorities from majorities. When we say something is a civil right, we take an abstraction of principles that we mostly all agree on and then apply them to the specific. Most Americans think freedom of religion is a pretty good idea, so that must also apply to Mormons and Muslims and Pagans. Our agreed-upon principles lead us to protect actions and people who would not necessarily receive such protections if things were put up for a vote.
Interracial marriage became legal with the court case Loving v Virginia, decided by the Supreme Court. This decision was not popular, but it wasn’t unpopular enough to amend the Constitution over. If it had been put up for a vote even five years after it became law, it would not have passed. Honestly, I would be worried about what people would vote on this even now. In that decision, the court found that marriage was a fundamental right, something I think we all agree upon. And we’re all supposed to be equal under the law. And there’s not a compelling state interest to keep people of different races from marrying. Therefore, it must be allowed.
The SCOTUS needs to rule on gay marriage. This is not a battle that’s going to be won by voting. It needs to be a combination of activism and case law. That winning combination is what desegregated buses and then later protected our speech. March and sue!
Eventually, gay rights will be a settled question, but right now, it’s still legal to discriminate in several states and on a federal level. We don’t have ENDA (nor have we been added to the Civil Right Act, which would give us full protections. Even after we have ENDA, we won’t be done.). We can’t serve openly in the military. Hate crime legislation is less than a month old. It’s not surprising that people feel comfortable discriminating against us in the ballot box, when they’re fully allowed to in other contexts. Indeed, these other contexts are somewhat more vital for many LGBT people. I’m certainly in favor of Same Sex Marriage, but even more, I’m in favor of not being fired from a job for being trans.
I think there’s more resources going towards marriage right now, and that might be because people who have enough resources to pay for political campaigns are not worried about losing their jobs. There are people who are still in the closet at work, who are afraid to come out or to transition. If they get fired for being LGBT, they have no recourse and they can kiss their health insurance goodbye. A legally recognized marriage is not the top agenda for people in that situation and I don’t know if it should be top agenda for the LGBT community in general. Let’s pass the gender-inclusive ENDA, make it clear that discrimination being wrong is a matter of law and then sue for marriage. Or hell, let’s sue to get rid of having legal sexes at all, then we’ll get marriage by default.

Why we lost on Prop 8

The SF Chronicle wrote a bit about campaign strategy:

That allowed Prop. 8 opponents, worried that many voters were not enamored with the idea of same-sex marriage, to run a TV campaign that almost never mentioned gays or lesbians or showed them in an ad. Instead, the ads charged that Prop. 8 supporters wanted to take away rights from a single, unnamed group of people, which just wasn’t fair.

If we’re not even willing to name ourselves as citizens, why on earth would anybody want to support us? If we’re ashamed of being LGBT, then why are our rights valuable? If this strategy NEVER WORKS, why do the mainstream campaigns keep using it?!
If we want rights, then we have to be gay and proud, not weirdly lurking and hiding. Same sex couples deserve the right to marry! Stand up and say it!
In other news, holy cow, Obama won. oh my god.

American Politics: Why the Continuing Democrat Contest is a Good Thing

People say it’s bad. Pick up a newspaper, that says it’s bad. turn on a TV, that says it’s bad. But seriously folks, when is the last time the mass media said anything even remotely accurate about progressives in America? (I hear crickets chirping).
First of all, why not ask the voters in states with late primaries? I bet they’re not unhappy to be making important votes. I bet they’re pleased as heck. For years, everybody only cares about New Hampshire. Now, suddenly, somebody is paying attention to them! More democracy is good! Let the late voters have their say.
Secondly, Clinton and Obama are vying for the Democratic vote. If the Democratic nominee were already selected, ze would be vying for the mythical swing voter. Or worse, Republican voters. Instead, the Democratic candidates are forced to talk about issues that actually matter to their party. They have to define themselves in opposition to each other, not just as slightly less-bad Republicans.
There are more Democrats than Republicans in America. If you look at party registration, you can see that. If you go out as a pollster and start asking people, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” the gap gets really wide, more than 10%. Most people don’t vote. A huge number of eligible voters aren’t registered. But, even unregistered, they consider them selves to be Democrats. It’s sad. Why don’t they vote? Well, in a normal election cycle, their issues are completely ignored in the mad rush for swing voters. Why should they vote if they get offered nothing?
So, suddenly, the left exists. The left’s issues exist. The majority of people in America suddenly exist. Clinton and Obama are forced to talk about issues important to the left. And as this drags on, they become associated with their pledges to the left. They can’t just suddenly forget about us. We made them address the Pentagon’s illegal domestic disinformation campaign to sell the war. Every issues that they address, which McCain ignores, that’s an issue that they well might have stayed silent on. And maybe they force him to address it. The political discourse in America is being pulled in a direction which appeals to Democrats.
I hope this goes all the way up to the convention. I hope they have to keep paying attention to the party they represent all the way through it, through November, through two terms in office. Progressive issues matter! Progressive issues are vital to the health of the country and the planet.
Of course, I write all this from a distant land, where I don’t get inundated with it. But every time I see the candidates jockeying for progressive votes I smile. And then I change the channel.


Nevermind. Arg. This is why I don’t pay attention. And moved across an ocean.

Racism vs Sexism: This is not a Contest!!

I’ve talked before about why I like Obama. It was mostly emotional. He talks about the future. He links it with the civil rights struggles of the past. He invokes destiny and progress in nifty ways. A big component of this is that he stays positive. His charisma is a whole big ball of being positive.
When he gave a speech on MLK day talking about the need for queer equality, that was a strong statement and it was specifically against the queerphobia found in some black churches. But it was positive all the way. He’s a uniter. Emotionally, he tells folks they’re wrong without ever telling them that they’re wrong. It’s like he’s got a great big tent set up and keeps inviting people in. And he’s not telling folks that they’re wrong as much as he’s asking them to scoot over a bit to make some room for the new folks coming into the tent.
I wish everybody on the Democratic side would stay positive. Not just the candidates, but everybody. When pundits or whoever try to frame this as white women against black men, that especially gets my hackles up. Sexism and racism are related. It’s not meaningful to argue about which is worse. Historically, advances for People of Color have been linked with advances for women. The same folks who worked to end slavery worked on suffrage. Many of the same folks who worked in the civil rights movement worked in the women’s rights movement.
Ok, not everybody who is anti-racist is anti-sexist. And not every feminist anti-racist. That second case is getting a lot of attention right now. White, second wave feminists tended to ignore black women’s issues and write about white women as if all women were white. Some of these folks are writing op-eds now that have this same problem and it’s incredibly annoying. Gloria Steinem wrote a piece that, yikes, I wish she hadn’t written it. Unfortunately, though, when folks react to this kind of op-ed, well, their reactions can be problematic too. Instead of arguing with the specific author or even the school of thought of the author or even second wave feminism in general, they paint with a broader brush. I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to blame all of second wave feminism. There were influential and important black women in the movement. And, with a broader brush, I really don’t think it’s fair to blame all feminism. Third wave feminists are specifically anti-racist and feature more contributions of POC writers and also tend not to see things solely in terms of white vs black. (Shockingly, there are additional races in America.) I know third wave feminism has it’s own problems which will probably seem glaring in a generation, but right now, there’s a conscious effort to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, especially in regards to racism and homophobia, etc. Going yet another step further, it’s really, really unfair to blame white women in general as a group.
There are pundits on TV that start talking about white women as if they’re a homegenius group of suburban, middle class soccer moms, all implicitly or explicitly racist. Many of these pundits are white men! Yo! Get off the high ground, Mr. Chauvinist Pig! Right, contrary to what many seem to think, white women vary in age from 18 to over 100. They vary in income from grinding poverty to extreme wealth. They live in rural areas, in the city, in the suburbs. Not all of them are, will be, or want to be moms, soccer or not. Not all are straight. Not all are cisgender. So white, male pundits, complaining about racism, treat white women as a big group of identical, interchangeable, (not quite) people. Ironic!
The brilliant part about this is that it lets white men off the hook. Who profits when the disadvantaged fight each other instead of the advantaged?
So, can we all stop arguing about whether racism is “worse” than sexism or vice versa? They’re different beasts! But they serve the same purpose of maintaining inequality and keeping the rulers up top. Instead, let’s talk about who is going to help the most.
Position-wise, Obama and Clinton are pretty much identical on feminist issues. I don’t want to cal them “women’s issues,” because it’s kind of foolish to assume that these issues only effect women. If abortion is illegal, that increases unwanted fatherhood, not just unwanted motherhood. Every man that’s tied economically to a women gets hurt by income inequality. Heterosexual men don’t bear many of the direct costs of sexism, but they bear costs. Feminist issues are good for everybody, not just for women. And Obama and Clinton are both great on feminist issues. A single-issue voter can go for either of them and end up doing well policy-wise. Of course, somebody who actually IS a woman, well, if I were a single-issue voter, that would push it over the edge for me.
But, position-wise, Obama and Clinton are not equal on race issues. An anti-racist, single-issue voter would pick Obama.
There are a lot of reasons to back Clinton. There are a lot of reasons to back Obama. There are other policy differences,although not overly many. How about we keep it positive, eh? And can we lay off white women? (If we start in on sexist black men . . . .oy, let’s not do that.)

Public Service Announcement

For all of you who switched your registration to vote on Super Tuesday, don’t forget to switch back to the Green Party. We need you to stay on the ballot, not just in national races, where maybe voting Green isn’t s useful, but in local races. We’ve got folks in state legislatures. We almost got mayor of San Francisco. Stay Green!

Channel 5 news just called me to do a phone survey. Tom Bates, the mayor-elect of Berkeley, on the last day before the election, threw away 1000 copies of the Daily Cal that endorsed his oponent, Shirley Dean. He’s admitted to this. So the question was, “what should happen to him?” Should he be removed from office? Should he stay in office but face some other punishment? Should he stay in office and face no punishment? I picked “don’t know.” the way that question comes acorss, I’m guessing option two will be the big winner. but the issue is more complicated than what they said over the phone. First of all, there’s the political aspect. We’d have to have a new election and maybe Shirley Dean would be mayor again. She practicaly encouraged the right to boycott Berkeley because the counsil passed a resolution against the Patriot Act. Then, there’s the question of the severity of the crime and the commonness of the crime. Just because a crime is highly common, doesn’t lessen it’s seriousness, of course. But one of the counsil members told the paper that he stole thousands of copies of the Daly Cal once too, but it turned out that it endorsed him, so he put them back. someone else said that while he was runing against Dean, thousands of his signs were torn down. It seems like it’s common in Berkeley to interfere with other people’s campaigns. which means that almost all of the city cousil might have to step down.
Christi saw Bates on the morning of the election and said he looked so tired that he resembled a cheerful zombie. Should actions that occur when people are exhausted and stressed be more easily forgiven? Most of us would say yes, for minor infractions. So it all comes down to the question, “how serious is it to throw away 1000 copies of the Daily Cal?” I don’t know. But I do remeber a very short appointment for a police cheif in San Francisco. The Bay Times ran a cover of the new chief holding a baton in a “suggestive manner,” so the chief ordered officers to remove the newspaper. And then, very shortly, he was himself removed. does a smiliar fate await Bates? Who knows? but since this is Berkeley, one of the questions that ought to be publically addressed is, “Did he recycle the newspapers?”
The Daly Cal is a UC student-run daily paper. The Bay Times is the alternative gay newspaper that covers the whole Bay Area. Presumably, only copies in SF were removed. Tom Bates was nominated by a coalition of progressives from many parties as a candidate who could beat Dean. Previously, he served in the state assembly

I just voted a straight green party ticket (except for Barbara Lee. Yay
Barbara Lee!) and I get to come home not feeling like I’ve compromised my
values. And my vote isn’t thrown away, cuz I wouldn’t have voted otherwie
(except for Barbara Lee. Yay Barbara Lee!)

Anyway, I know that some of y’all live in the Bay Area section of
California so I thought I’d mention my wifey’s voting guide now that it’s
too late and you’ve already voted.

For that long list of judges to vote yes or no on, she actually went and
read their opinions. she does more research than anyone. her political
bent is such that, although she votes green, she won’t register green
because “they’re too conservative.”

And I’d like to take a moment to brag that Barbara Lee went to Mills
College, a very small women’s liberal arts college in Oakland that I also
went to, but not at the same time as her. Mills alums are going to take
over the world, but slowly, since there’s not that many of us.