The things that slide through the news these days


Poll: 70 percent of LGBTs support noninclusive ENDA (Planet Out via Yahoo! News)

I don’t know what pisses me off more right now: the fact that there’s so little news coverage of Kucinich introducing Articles of Impeachment against Cheney, or that there’s so little news coverage of the machinations of the ENDA. For all the talk out there about this huge left-wing media conspiracy, the fact that the media is burying stories like these in favour of things like the President of France cozying up to the current administration and Pat Robertson endorsing Giuliani just goes to show, as far as I’m concerned, how centrist Democrats have managed to squeeze truly progressive politics and politicians almost completely off of the American radar.

That the GLBT community would leave trans people high and dry on a matter like this is hardly unprecedented. Although the GLBT community made great strides towards public recognition and acceptance in the 1990s, it was really only gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who got the benefits of that wave. Remember the images of gay men and lesbian women from that time period: the couple from that Ikea commercial, Will from Will and Grace, and so on. Not only were trans people completely left out and overlooked at the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities fought for more acceptance, but in order to try to make themselves look more appealing to the public at large, the GLBT community gave into the other kinds of quiet discrimination in the media at large. Even today, all it takes is a casual glance through the pages of big GLBT magazines like The Advocate to see that this trend is still continuing today: nearly all the people portrayed in articles and advertisements are thin, clean-cut, young caucasian males. People of colour, people of size, women, and trans people are nearly as unpresented in the pages of GLBT magazines as they are in the media at large, and you would think that a community that claims to be so concerned about diversity and acceptance would actually, you know, show that in the image they portray of themselves.

Even the rhetoric being used by people who claim that this "compromise" bill is the best option we have right now is painfully familiar, as it calls to mind Hillary Clinton so laughingly trying to defend her husband’s barring of same-sex marriage in his administration by claiming that it was the best political solution at the time because at least it wasn’t a Constitutional amendment. The notion that the civil rights of a group of people, whether it’s discrimination against trans people or the marriage rights of same-sex couples or the atrocities the Chinese government continues to inflict on its people, should never be considered some kind of political bargaining chip. How different would this country be if LBJ was more concerned with preserving the power of the Democratic Party in the south than with granting civil rights to non-Caucasians? How different would we be if Gandhi had been concerned with the practicality of his non-violent protest of colonial British rule? At a time when this country is aching for massive change in the way our government is run and the business it conducts, all of what is so ludicrously called "the left wing" in America today just wants to give us a slightly-retooled version of what has so failed this country for these past six and a half years.

Let us name this rhetoric for what it is: capitulation. Congressional Democrats talked a big game last year around election time about changing Washington, but all we have gotten from them is the smallest bit of bluster, followed by flaccid fealty to the current administration. They promised an end to the war in Iraq, but they’ve continued to capitulate to Bush’s funding requests. They talked of taking care of lower-class Americans, but the rich continue to get richer while more and more Americans have a harder time making ends meet. Every time when the talk of standing up to the administration falls to a whimpering, simpering ascension to Bush’s desires, we are told the same old story of how the "compromise" — when Bush has yet to substantially compromise on a single issue in these so-called negotiations — is the best that we can expect under the current political climate. The notion that Bush has somehow become a lame duck is patently false, because Congressional Democrats have simply replaced Congressional Republicans in enabling the Bush doctrine across the political board.

It is now more evident than ever that the centrists who have been allowed to claim the left wing of American politics are more concerned with self-preservation than they are with actually tending to their constituents. From the exclusion of progressive voices in the political talkies, to the poo-poohing of Kucinich’s presidential campaign, to the sweeping of trans people under the rug in the ENDA, to the fear-mongering that goes on whenever the words "Green Party" or "Ralph Nader" are mentioned, it is clear the Democratic politicians and their friends in business and the media are just as bad as the current administration when it comes to latching onto power for the sole sake of preserving that power and fattening their own pockets at the expense of this country’s well-being. If Congressional Democrats are too concerned with their image to grant civil rights to all people, or to impeach a Vice President with an 11 percent approval rating, whose political machinations are responsible for the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and several times more Iraqis, then they should at least have the decency to own up to their own venality and impeach themselves … or do something else to themselves.

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