The ordeal of democracy


It’s a sad comment on the state of American politics that most people fervently wish for the fall campaign to be over with as soon as possible.

The election is talked about as if it were an ordeal or bad smell that needs to be avoided or, failing that, overcome. The national party conventions rouse their members to action for the Nov. 6 election. Already, large corporate and other interests are airing blistering attack ads accusing candidates of undermining American values and destroying the American way of life.

Most folks I know say these ads all start sounding the same after awhile and they tune them out or press the “mute” button. Whether liberal or conservative in message, their persistence and negativity contribute to the alienation felt by voters.

The obscene amount of money poured into these ads may reach a billion dollars this year. The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, ratified unlimited expenditures by private interests that can remain essentially anonymous. Unless and until that ruling is modified or reversed, the glut of attack ads and disinformation will continue unabated.

For LGBTs, the choices this fall should be a no-brainer: supporting Republican candidates who deny our existence and rights or supporting Democratic candidates who recognize our existence and rights. That sounds simplistic, but it is true.

In an article in The New York Times, Frank Bruni interviewed gay Republicans about the GOP convention. They defended their party, saying that the absence of any mention of gays and lesbians was actually a hopeful sign.

The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans said: “Our messaging within the party has been: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

How pathetic is that? The Republican platform is actively anti-gay, yet these oxymoronic gay Republicans are willing to accept that and abase themselves as long as party leaders don’t say anything mean about them?

Someone ought to use gay Republicans to study the power of self-delusion.

The Democratic platform is actively pro-gay and Barack Obama came out this year in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Contrast this to the GOP platform, which supports a constitutional amendment on marriage that excludes same-sex couples.

And the GOP stand on reproductive rights is just as clear: ladies, you don’t have any.

The Tammy Baldwin vs. Tommy Thompson senatorial race should be another no-brainer for LGBTs. Baldwin is a long-time public servant who is openly lesbian. She supports the Affordable Care Act (derided as “Obamacare”) and prioritizes jobs, education, civil rights and the environment. She consistently voted against the billions handed to private contractors for our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, money that is largely unaccounted for.

Baldwin faces a tough race against Thompson, who has won four statewide races and is more familiar to most voters. Thompson was almost comical in his insistence on being more right wing than his three opponents in the GOP primary this summer. If he wins, have no doubt that he will vote as a hard-right conservative on social, economic and defense issues.

The biggest challenge for LGBT and progressive voters is not to succumb to the fatigue of these seemingly endless campaigns. As clumsy, long and outrageously expensive as our national elections are, we can’t afford to sit them out. Somehow, every four years, we and our country manage to survive our democratic ordeal.

Contact Jamakaya at .