WASHINGTON — As the Republican leadership meets to plan the impending transfer of political power in the U. S. House of Representatives coupled with the marginal difference of seats held in the Senate by both parties, it becomes obvious to most Washington observers that the 112th Congress will be frictional, adversarial, and hardly bi-partisan.
The most telling sign was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statements to the conservative PAC/Think Tank the Heritage Foundation where he laid out the GOP agenda for this next two years: Get rid of Obama.
Sources in the Congress have stated that the mood of the Democrats is glum and now many are angered that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is attempting to hold on to power within the Democratic Cause by running for the leadership as minority leader.
One asked, “What part of the definition of repudiated does she not understand? The voters in this election were battling her because the Republicans used her and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as the poster children for all that’s evil in the world.”
Several others have echoed that sentiment and expressed doubt that any legislative efforts by the Democrats will even make it out of Republican controlled committees.
Although the White House has already extended an olive branch to the Republican leadership, it appears that neither incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have any intention of working with the White House.
This is especially true in areas that affect Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgendered Americans.
Capitol Hill staffers, speaking on background and anonymously, indicated that repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and the United American Families Act (UAFA) are the legislative equivalent of “Dead On Arrival” in the next session of Congress.
One staffer was incredulous that the White House is still pursuing the idea that Reid would be able to get the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill through the “lame duck” session before January with the repeal of DADT and the Dream Act still attached as amendments to the final version.
“The votes aren’t there to combat a filibuster,” he said.
Within the larger context, the LGBTQ community itself is at odds. One political analyst noted that the principal reason the Democrats took this “shellacking” as the President referred to the election’s outcome, is that the base was completely disillusioned and stayed home.
He went on to note that the perception was that long term Washington based LGBT PACs, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and others are completely out of touch with their core constituency.
“There’s this assumption with the Gay PACs, often referred dismissively to as ‘Gay Inc.,’ are only interested in lining their pockets or the pockets of the Democrats. The average everyday LGBT person has lost hope that Gay Inc. will step up to the plate and force the administration to keep its promises.”
The most noteworthy example of this discontent was the rise earlier this year of the activist group GetEqual, whose singular focused activism went after both the White House and the Hill on the DADT repeal.
Another factor in the defeat of the Democrats was the powerful emergence of the various component groups collectively known as the Tea Party, representing a vocal minority in the GOP, which managed to put several of their candidates into House and Senate seats. The bad news for the LGBTQ folk is that a good deal of these extreme right conservatives are opposed to any type of recognition of equality rights for the LGBTQ citizens in particular same-sex marriage.
Efforts must now be focused on winning support from the local and state communities by gaining recognition of equality rights.
It can be said that any measured success will be now at that level versus a federal as it takes on the appearance, that this incoming Congress will be defined by GOP and Tea Party ideological rhetoric as to be locked up in never-ending partisan fighting with the Democrats.
This White House has also shown itself to be completely inadequate at effective bipartisan governing and a consensus approach to the Republicans. It can be fairly said, that this President has also touched off a vitriolic filled opposition rarely seen in politics that’s seen him demonized for policies that perhaps another politician would not have been had he not been biracial. In some eyes, that’s the elephant in the room.
Leading LGBTQ activist David Mixner warns that Equality brought about by judicial fiat may inflame the passions of the GOP and its base to the point that in the case of DOMA, a constitutional amendment is likely that would forever enshrine same-sex marriage as a no-go in the United States.
“If I was giving money today it would be to those pushing court cases,” Mixner said. We seem to be doing better there than anywhere. Who knows if the shift in political climate will make judges more timid or not?”
The most important aspect for any rational LGBTQ person living in the United States evaluating the outcome of the 2010 mid-terms is this thought from Mixner:
“The LGBT struggle for civil rights is not an appendage of any political party. Freedom has no Party. Our national organizations must remember that they do not work for the President or the Democratic Party. Our LGBT leaders work for and are accountable to us and no one else. We cannot allow outsiders to continue to define the strategy and then blithely follow it.
Never again should we be afraid to exercise real power and play tough when we have the opportunity to advance forward. And please, no more condescending lectures about how we don’t understand how Washington works.”
The other consideration is whether or not it’s a sound idea to put the LGBT organizations or Gay Inc. out of business. What would replace them in Washington? The fact remains that they do have access and enough prestige to communicate with the White House and Congress and have the potential for greater good.
Those organizations exist to advocate for LGBTQ equality rights and to challenge the ultra-right alleged Christian PACs such as the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council. These PACs have a single issue focus and that’s the complete eradication of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from the American society.
Could a totally grass roots effort, on a state by state basis combat NOM or FRC or any other established and well funded Anti-Gay Lobbyist PAC? The honest answer is no. Which means as Mixner pointed out, we need to address these valid concerns and overhaul the methods by which Gay Inc. represents the LGBTQ people in Washington to be more effective.
Let there be no mistaking this point — the gains made in the past several years in obtaining full equal rights are in danger of being undone. The fact that LGBT persons in a vast majority sat out this election cycle is most likely going to come back and haunt them.
It is now time for action not reflection, as its already too late to Monday morning quarterback the outcome.