Friday, November 9, 2012

Now That It's All Over

I am so very glad that this election is over.  And I am very glad that President Obama was re-elected, marriage equality prevailed in all four contests, and that our House and Senate are more diverse than ever.  But there are a couple of things that happened that night that made me quite sad.  First, I discovered that I was "unfriended" by three conservative friends on Facebook, and this was before I'd said anything about the election results.  Second, I found out that students at my undergrad expressed their dismay at Obama's re-election by surrounding the campus' Minority Student Union house, while hurling firecrackers, bottles and racial epithets at the students inside of the house.

What makes me sad about these reactions to Obama's re-election is that I know that if the situations were reversed, I, nor the students in the MSU house, would have reacted similarly.  It was an election.  Yes, I am a strong supporter of Obama, and with good reason.  But, I would not have started dismissing my conservative friends or hurling invectives at them, if Romney had prevailed.  There's no point to that.  The nation will survive any one leader at the helm.  It has since it's founding, and even at its lowest point, during the Civil War.

I find it so fascinating that Obama's ascension has inflamed such passions from his political opponents, passions that I find deeper than those that George W. Bush experienced, and he has some passionate political opponents.  I've wondered if what Obama represents, a  "new America," is at the heart of the enmity.  If you look at the coalition of Americans that voted for Obama this year, you would find an extremely diverse group of folks.  For years, I've been asking why it seems that the various minority groups are consistently on the other side of the aisle from white conservatives?  What is it about conservative positions that so many find untenable?  Too often, the answers given, if the question is even addressed, is a mish-mash of a desire for "socialism," not "understanding" America, or simply a desire to take "hand outs."  Those are stupid answers, and they avoid the substance of the question. 

Until the GOP can actually answer that question, then it will continue to find itself on the losing end of general elections.  There are real paths that the GOP could take to begin selling, in an honest way, its ideas to racial, ethnic and sexual minorities.  It isn't as though Romney didn't get ANY minority votes; he did.  So, perhaps instead of getting mad and calling names, and saying that your political opponents are "idiots," "un-American," "moochers," "takers" or whatever mean thing that comes to mind, maybe, just maybe, it's time to sort out what could appeal to the people who don't support the GOP agenda and build on that.  Unfortunately, that will take a great deal of work, and if the end goal is to return to the "golden age" of the late 1950s, then the GOP will have lost, before it's even begun.  And "un-friending" liberal friends seems like an admission that there is an unwillingness even to ask why we have differences.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Civil Rights Voting

Having already cast my ballot for Barack Obama (again, and this time in Virginia, as opposed to DC, where my one additional vote will have more weight, I couldn't help but think of the sadness I felt on Election night '08 with the Prop 8 debacle in California.  So here we are, four years later, and four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington) have ballot initiatives related to civil marriage equality.  Of course, I want marriage equality to prevail tonight (with Minnesota not amending its state constitution to deny the possibility of marriage equality, and the other states seeking to bolster the legislative victories in their states), but Maryland stands out for me.

One of the false memes that has developed is the notion that Black folks are super, extra especially homophobic, in comparison with the broader public.  It simply isn't true.  Homophobia is an equal opportunity problem.  Now considering that Maryland has the largest Black population of the states with marriage equality on the ballot, and considering that Maryland's Black population is electorally influential, I think that a vote in favor of marriage equality in the Old Line State would be a significant blow to that meme about Blacks and the GLBT community.  I am more than confident that President Obama's embrace of marriage equality, and the Democratic Party's embrace have helped move the needle on broader GLBT acceptance, especially within the Black community.

Yet with all of those positives, I find it quite sad that many within the Black community remain quite comfortable with the notion of putting a demographic group's civil rights on the ballot.  I don't need to remind anyone of just how far civil rights for Blacks would have gone, if they'd been put on the ballot in the states with legal segregation.  But I think that it is important to remind folks of just how that would have felt to those fighting for racial equality.  It would have sucked during those election nights, waiting for the returns to come in, wondering if this time might be the time that equality prevails.

That is precisely what the GLBT community is going through right now, and it fucking sucks.