Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Two minds

Heard the expression, “of two minds”? That’s me: My reaction to today’s committee vote on “comprehensive” immigration reform is split. Neither is particularly positive.

When I wrote about this bill last month, it was to note that it seemed likely that LGBT married couples would be dropped from the proposed immigration reform bill in the US Senate because Republicans demanded it. I said back then…
“When the infamous Defense [sic] of Marriage Act is repealed or struck down, then legally married LGBT couples will be treated the same as any other married couple for immigration purposes. We don’t need immigration reform for this, we just need a wise Supreme Court or a—what’s the word?—sensible Congress to make this happen. It can be done, and it must be done.”
What I should have added is that the first is a BIG “if” and the second an impossibility for the foreseeable future—at least a decade, maybe more. So, if the Supreme Court is not wise and upholds DOMA, then legally married binational LGBT couples could continue to endure blatant and deliberate discrimination for a generation.

Today Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) withdrew his amendment to the immigration reform bill. The amendment would have included legally married same gender couples. Republicans said that if the amendment was added, they’d kill the entire bill.

So the four other Democrats on the committee, brave, principled lot that they are, utterly surrendered to the Republican bullying, abandoning principle along with LGBT voters. They did it, they said, to win immigration reform, vowing to fight for LGBT people some other day in an undefined future time.

If they were right, and their capitulation would save immigration reform, I could almost forgive Democrats for their utter surrender. After all, there’s still the chance that the Supreme Court will rule correctly on DOMA, making all this moot. And, undocumented single LGBT people will be silent participants in any programme for undocumented people generally (though I have no doubt that Republicans would absolutely seek to specifically exclude LGBT people if they could).

Nevertheless, I cannot forgive the four Democrats who betrayed their party and LGBT voters; they were: Send Dick Durbin (IL), Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA), Sen. Al Franken (MN) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY). My contempt for those Democrats isn’t simply because, yet again, they caved and surrendered utterly to the Republicans for nothing in return, bad as their typical cowardice and lack of principle is. The simple reason their pathetic behaviour is so galling this time is that the bill will never pass Congress, with protections for LGBT married couples or without them.

Republicans don’t want immigration reform. They dislike Hispanics, particularly undocumented ones, almost as much as they despise LGBT people. They have no interest in doing the right thing for either group. The US House is controlled by the far right extremists elected in 2010, and they will defeat the immigration reform bill. Republicans in the US Senate are little better. So, the bill will fail in the House and if I were to bet, I’d say it will probably even fail in the Senate (where Republicans define a simple majority as being 60 of the 100 votes).

Of course, for Republicans, theirs was a no-lose position: They forced Democrats to choose between different parts of their base, namely, Hispanic voters and LGBT voters. Either way, Republicans calculated, they couldn’t possibly lose.

Republicans knew that if Democrats surrendered their principles yet again, and threw LGBT couples under the bus, it would infuriate parts of the Democratic base. On the other hand, if Democrats had stood firm on principle for a change, then Republicans would kill the bill and make Hispanic voters angry at Democrats for not getting the bill through in order to please LGBT voters.

Dividing the Democratic base only helps Republicans, of course, by driving down the voter turnout for Democrats. And contributions. Because Republicans are a minority, they need to suppress Democratic votes, and diving the base is one way to do that.

But it’s not a very smart way. Hispanic voters are not anti-gay, as Republicans assume. If they had killed the bill, even conservative Hispanics would have been unlikely to thank Republicans for standing firm against the homosexual hordes; more likely, they’d have been angry at Republicans for blocking immigration reform over that one issue.

And what of our “friends” in the Democratic Party? With friends like these, eh? They betray us so often because they believe that LGBT voters have nowhere else to go: The Republican opponent is almost without exception far worse than our cowardly “friend”. They don’t even try to take a stand on principle because they’re so sure of our automatic loyalty.

Times are changing.

Progressives—real progressives—are starting to mount primary challenges to supposedly “liberal” Democrats. Our side is also beginning to make contributions dependent on results, not rhetoric. In other words, real Democrats are starting to demand that Democratic politicians start behaving as Democrats, not as kinder, gentler Republicans.

For everyone’s sake—including the Republican bullies, actually—I hope the Supreme Court does strike down DOMA to put this matter to an end. Right now, it’s the only remaining hope that tens of thousands of LGBT Americans have, thanks to four cowardly Democrats.

So, I’m of two minds. First, the Democrats were foolish and cowardly, and I won’t make any excuses for them. However, IF the Supreme Court does the right thing, then all this will be moot. And, IF the Republicans also suddenly embrace some sort of immigration reform and pass the NON-comprehensive immigration reform bill, then the end result will be a good one. But those are a lot of ifs!

Will we see any good come of this mess? I don’t know. I’m of two minds about it.

A postscript: I went to the Facebook page for Sen. Dick Durbin. As one of his constituents, I thought I might possibly leave a respectful expression of my disappointment in him. What I saw were comments from unhinged homophobic bigots, racists, far right crackpots of every description and more displays of mental illness and social psychosis than I’ve ever seen in one place (apart from far right websites’ comments, of course). The fact that those people expressed their hatred(s) so publicly kind of worries me; fortunately, many didn’t seem to actually be from Illinois. That’s one good thing, I guess. I didn't leave a comment—I felt soiled enough already.


Roger Green said...

Oh, I avoid public sites like that like the plague. Full of whatever BS you can imagine, and it doesn't matter what the issue is. If you supported tulips, it'd be about anti-Eurozone sentiments

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, that's true. But since it was his Facebook page, I just thought it would mainly be his constituents interacting with him (well, he staff…) on the issues of the day. I had no idea it would me kind of political mental health ward. I really should learn: I expect the best from people, but far too many people seem to delight in being the worst, or, as in this case, the worst possible.