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September 14, 2005

I'm Not Going To Be A Dem Much Longer

I've come to the conclusion that women's issues are important to the Dems only when there is an election on the horizon. The Roberts hearings have been going on, and the Dems aren't doing a damned thing to keep him from being confirmed. Women's reproductive health has taken a back seat to more "important" issues.

Just wait until it's election time, and the Dems suddenly shift sail and try to woo women. I'm registered as a Dem at the moment after years of being registered as an Independent. I'm switching to Independent again, since the Dems seem to have no problem with confirming a guy who wants to put a shackle on my uterus. I think Dem women who are sick of the way the Dems have rolled over and played dead when it comes to their welfare should do the same.

Apparently, women's reproductive health is an important issue only if some self-important bloggers say it is. As Roxanne said, maybe we need permission slips to blog about the issue.

More at Roxanne's, Lauren's, Pandagon (Amanda), Sheelzebub's, and Jessica at Bush v. Choice.

Posted on September 14, 2005 at 07:14 PM | Permalink

Comments

Countess: A) You just found out that the Dems are Family Values Lite? Three letters, my friend: D-L-C. b) You and all the other feminists are not going to abandon the Dems when all is said and done. Come 2008 and Bill Frist is the GOP standard bearer, you'll opt for the vague promise that Roe vs. Wade will be protected and pull that Donkey lever. If the Ass loses, you'll blame those who voted for third parties, particularly Greens or whomever Ralph Nader decides to throw his lot with for throwing the race to the Elephant. Mark my words. If that weren't the case, your post would read, "I'm Not A Dem Anymore", not "I"m Not Going to Be A Dem Much Longer".

Posted by: DP_in_SF at Sep 14, 2005 8:36:27 PM

DP, I've known for a long time that the Dems are Family Values Lite, but these hearings are making it sink in even more. The problem is that there isn't anyone I want to vote for. Certainly not the Republicans. However, the Dems aren't speaking to me or representing issues that matter to me. I feel really stuck. I'll be yet another one of those voters who votes against someone rather than for someone, and I wish it didn't have to be that way. I know better than to vote for a third party, because that would be the same as voting Republican, the way things are going now. I'm just tired of seeing issues important to me thrown on the back burner - until an election is on the horizon.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 14, 2005 8:48:49 PM

The problem is that there are no other parties to go to. The Green party is ineffectual at best.

I wish Dean would have been able to do things HIS way. Then progressives wouldn't need their own party....

Posted by: Moi ;) at Sep 14, 2005 9:05:10 PM

As far as I know, through out history whenever a war was going on, starting with the civil war in 1861, feminists put women's issues on the back burner and they didn't complain about it. As a matter of fact they pitched in to help and then picked up where they left off when the war ended.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 14, 2005 9:10:17 PM

I don't understand the last post. What precisely are you referring to?

Posted by: Mandos at Sep 14, 2005 9:58:57 PM

He likes to mouth off about feminists, Mandos, and he ends up saying a lot of nonsense. It's best to just ignore him.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 14, 2005 10:03:21 PM

I can't remember the last time I was a Democrat. They're all a bunch of pandering idiots.
I'm a Green. They might not be effective but at least they stand for something.
I voted against Bush in the last election. What a pathetic thing to have to do.
If more people voted for a third party, one might actually gain power, but people are so convinced it's useless to even try that it becomes self-fulfilling.
Anyway. I'm bored silly here in Arlington. This training class I'm attending is THE WORST EVER. The instructor is (1) dull (2) dumb (4) unclear on the basic concepts he's training us in, and (4) WRONG. The other students are idiots, the weather is horrible, the town sucks and I am having a crisis of confidence. Work is the pits and I don't know how much longer I can take it and I don't know what to do to fix it.
Love,
Pollyanna

Posted by: SF Knitter at Sep 14, 2005 10:31:25 PM

Hey, Pollyanna, if you get back into D. C. and not Arlington, VA, drive to Laurel, MD and stop for dinner at Bottom of the Bay. That place has the BEST crabs.

I'm sorry the training class is such a snore-fest. I'm not surprised it is. The least they could do is feed you real food.

I haven't been to D. C. in years. You might want to go to Chinatown. It's near the Capitol.

Don't have a crisis of confidence. It's D. C. That place can wear anyone down.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 14, 2005 10:59:50 PM

I'm referring to the War in Iraq, it might be the reason why "Women's reproductive health has taken a back seat to more "important" issues". Heaven forbid.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 15, 2005 12:30:43 AM

You're right, Pete. The Democrats need to spend more time rolling over and not convening investigations on the War in Iraq. It's hard work.

Posted by: norbizness at Sep 15, 2005 11:27:26 AM

I signed my petitions against Roberts at the beginning. But frankly, it's kind of weird that progressives are freaking out now. Even before Bush was "re-elected", it was clear that this was going to be looming on the horizon. The electorate was warned.

I for one get tired of everybody freaking out after a Republican politician does exactly what he said he would do. All these older people freaking out over social security, especially in the red states. You voted for him, what did you expect? And now we get a conservative for Supremem Court. What did you expect? That Bush would nominate a liberal?

The battle was lost with the election. All to come is reaping what has been sowed. At this point, it's nothing but quibbling.

Posted by: silverside at Sep 15, 2005 11:29:30 AM

Silverside: Very astute. The old adage of being careful about what you ask for has never been more true.

SF Knitter: I feel for you. I still get blamed by liberals for "helping Bush get into office" because I voted my conscience in 2000. Frankly, I'm convinced that the only ethical thing to do is whatever can help my grandchildren make a difference.

Pete Kaplan: Do you mean the decision by suffragists in the 1860s to remain silent on women's enfranchisement until the Civil War ended? That's not so whack, that's a historical fact as far as I remember.

Countess: Voting Democrat is voting Republican. If it weren't, this htread wouldn't exist. Frankly, I can't see why the Democrats don't take thier base for granted. They're suckers. The Democratic Party is just as comitted as the GOP to the idea that business and its interests are the prime purpose of human endeavors. That is job one. And they can continue on this path because every four years, they can bash a Republican incumbent that has the US embroiled in a war (with Democratic complicity), or if not, they can just say "reproductive rights" and they get it all from liberals and self-styled progressives. Who wouldn't accept such a package?

Posted by: DP_in_SF at Sep 15, 2005 12:30:12 PM

I hear ya, Silverside. ITA.

The Dems DO take us for granted, DP. If we astute Dems didn't notice that, there would have been no Dean in the picture, there would have been no need.

It pisses me off. It was all talk, that PTB talk about starting a REAL Progrssive Party. They didn't, and now look where we are.

Posted by: Moi ;) at Sep 15, 2005 1:14:02 PM

It was a tactical move on the part of suffragists to work on the war effort, with the hope that their hard work would be recognized and rewarded. It wasn't. The first wave of feminism came from women who were working in the major reform movements of that day. Until the war, they had been very active in the abolitionist movement, but they could not hold leadership positions. The first wave of feminism grew out of the abolitionist movement. They were relegated to grunt work, and they weren't happy about that. Men made the decisions. The full and equal participation of women was not wanted. They were expected to work within the "women's sphere". By the time the war had started, those feminists realized that they weren't being taken seriously by abolitionists and liberal men - men who were supposed to be their colleagues. That's why they took on patriotic work during the war - they wanted to be taken seriously, and they were angry that they weren't. Things got worse when the 14th amendment passed. It gave protection to men but not women. Women were not taken seriously by liberal men. Considering repeated debates on blogs regarding women bloggers (especially feminist bloggers) and liberal men, this issue remains a problem to this day.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 15, 2005 1:56:16 PM

"They were relegated to grunt work, and they weren't happy about that. Men made the decisions."

I wanted to clarify that suffragists were relegated to grunt work within the abolitionist movement. It occurred to me that my comment might not be clear.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 15, 2005 1:59:06 PM

DP_in_SF, I agree with you. I voted Nader in 2000 also. Liberals will never let me forget it. I'm actually disappointed in myself that I caved in 2004.

Trish - women not being taken seriously by liberal men!!?!?!! Why, whatever could you mean!? *gasp*

Thanks for the Bottom of the Bay tip. I will try my best to get out of this hellhole and have some good food.

Posted by: SF Knitter at Sep 15, 2005 2:44:35 PM

SF Knitter: "Trish - women not being taken seriously by liberal men!!?!?!! Why, whatever could you mean!? *gasp*"

Ha ha! This latest dust-up at dKos seems like same shit, different day, doesn't it? That's assuming you've kept up with it. As usual, I'm oblivious until everyone else has talked about it.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 15, 2005 3:13:53 PM

Trish-- You can be pissed at Kos or liberal men in general, but if you walk away "from the Democratic Party", in practice you are walking away from other VOTERS and ACTIVISTS who disproportionately NOT men and in many states are majority NOT white.

As I note in this post, judging a party by its elected leaders in the minority power misses the point. Judge them by when they have power, as in state government in California before Arnie, and you see a massive amount of pro-choice legislation.

Condemn Dem leaders who facilate but "walking away" is not an attack on conservatives in the Dem leadership, who will be happy to lose the irritation, but ends up being a de facto attack on other activists fighting to elect progressives in Democratic primaries and in general elections.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 15, 2005 3:55:10 PM

Fifty bucks says Nathan Newman is a white male.

Posted by: SF Knitter at Sep 15, 2005 4:05:01 PM

You win your fifty bucks. Which changes the meaning of the argument how?

Or is that an invitation to shut up and leave?

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 15, 2005 4:13:25 PM

Moi: That's what I mean to convey; the Donkey mouths platitudes meant for your (in this case, women's) benefit, but does little that satisfies. They don't have to. They know you'll turn up for them at election time. Only you can do something about that. It would subject you to scorn of the sort SF Knitter and I underwent, but that's healthy; you'll find out who your real friends are.

SF Knitter: Don't be disappointed. The good thing about US society is that elections happen on schedule. There are opportunities ahead. BTW, I love your blog. Do you miss San Francisco?

Nathan: You poor thing. People feel ripped off by your party's turn toward "the center" and you think it's unfair. Listen up: there won't be any progressive takeover of the Democratic Party, not now, not ever. It's over.

Posted by: DP_in_SF at Sep 15, 2005 4:29:20 PM

You feel ripped off by "my party"? "My party" is all the millions of folks, white, black, latino, men, women et al. who vote in Dem primaries each year.

As for the elected folks, what turn to the right are you talking about?
-- Voting by two-thirds against the Iraq War in the House?
-- Electing the first woman head of a national party caucus?
-- Nominating latinos as their nominees in the two largest cities (LA and NY) in the country?
-- Overwhelmingly voting against an anti-worker trade agreement (CAFTA)?

And the list could go on. Of course there is a core of conservative Democrats who can defeat progressive legislation at points, but that's an argument against that fringe, not the mainstream of the party which votes progressively on every abortion rights, labor and civil rights measure that comes down the pike.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 15, 2005 4:40:29 PM

Yeah, I miss San Francisco. Fortunately I'm just away for a week and I'll be back on Monday. WHEW.

Countess, I don't know much about that Kos person. I tried to read that blog for a while but it was the usual load of bullshit.

I love Helen Mirren too. Oh I should post that elsewhere.

Posted by: SF Knitter at Sep 15, 2005 6:35:55 PM

You feel ripped off by "my party"? "My party" is all the millions of folks, white, black, latino, men, women et al. who vote in Dem primaries each year.

Many of whom are uppity females and minorities who are getting sick to the teeth of hearing about how we should just stick it out and wait for things to get better.

Look, I'm tired of politicians who think that I should be refused EC or BC pills if it offends the pharmacists' delicate sensibilities. I'm sick to death of people who claim to represent me and who think choice is no big deal--until election time. Oh, boy do we ever hear about it then, votes for Scalia and the Hyde Amendment all forgotten. And hopefully, we'll just forget crap like this.

Women who have been pregnant and who would like to get these things think differently, and it sends a hell of a message to us when we see Dems--the very Dems WE volunteer for, WE vote for, and WE support, reach out to anti-choicers. Don't blame us for saving our energy.

Right now, I'm seeing Dems do a kabuki dance around a SC nominee whose record on civil rights, human rights, women's rights, and freedom of/from religion is bone-chilling.

How about the way the Dems cut and run on the voters of Florida after the 2000 election? Twenty members of the House of Representatives, most members of the Congressional Black Caucus, had objections, but they couldn't be heard without the signature of a Senator. No Senator--not even a Democrat--offered to give one., but they needed the signature of a Senator. Their constituents voted Democrat, volunteered, and gave the party their full support, only to get a slap in the face when they were disenfranchised.

All but one Democrat in the Senate approved of the PATRIOT Act in 2001. They may not have wanted it to be extended, but they sure got the ball rolling. Never occurred to them that maybe it was unconstitutional? Their constituents would be targeted.

All but three Democrats voted to approve John Negroponte as the Ambassador to Iraq. That paragon of civil and human rights and the rule of law.

Two thirds voted against the war; but they're not particularly organized or vocal about pushing for troop withdrawal. This, despite their base strongly opposing the war. Hell, even Cindy Sheehan couldn't get support with the exception of a few stray Dems. The party itself? Too busy trying not to seem soft on terrorism.

I'd say it's more a matter of the Dems running from the people, Nathan.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 15, 2005 6:38:50 PM

Which Dem politicians are you talking about Sheelzebub?

Just this past week, the Democratic-controlled California legislature passed a law MANDATING that pharmacies supply women with the 'morning after" pill. See here and I can cite a range of other pro-choice laws passed in states where Democrats have political control.

Yes, you can point to areas of political cowardice by some Democratic leaders, and the 2000 election aftermath was terrible-- but those are tactical issues of public presentation since the conservatives were going to win on every single issue you mention regardless of what the Dems did.

Which is why I point to areas where Dems actually have control. That's where it matters, and where Dems have control, the difference in support for womens issues or gay issues or labor issues is dramatically different from the GOP.

Even on the Patriot Act, the Democrats voted en masse for a substitute bill prepared by John Conyers that was very protective of civil liberties. If they had had a handful of more votes, there would be no Patriot Act. It was only when that bill was defeated that they ended up voting for the Patriot Act out of fear that the Rove machine would take them out as traitors if they didn't. Do you believe it would have been better for them to vote against the Patriot Act and lost thirty or forty more seats at the next election, without making any difference on whether the Patriot Act was implemented?

Maybe it wouldn't have been useful to trade losing some seats for a symbolic vote, but that's a tactical issue, not a substantive one. The substance was in the alternative bill to the Patriot Act that would have been law with a few more Democratic votes in Congress.

As I said, the key issue is what Dems do when they control a legislature, as they do in various states and city councils. And where they actually have substantive control, the differences in policy between Dem politicians and GOPers is night and day.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 15, 2005 7:12:24 PM

Yes, you can point to areas of political cowardice by some Democratic leaders, and the 2000 election aftermath was terrible-- but those are tactical issues of public presentation since the conservatives were going to win on every single issue you mention regardless of what the Dems did.

So the Dems should just roll over? Come on, Nathan, that's half the problem.

Great, local and state Dems do good work. Sure, mine do. But it seems once they get into the Senate or the House, they forget about their base and suck up to the right. Tactical or not, it alienates people.

One reason why progressives have had it with the Dems--and I'm not just talking about women--is that they've been GOP lite since Clinton--and it's sent a message that maybe the GOP is the way to go. If people are going to vote for conservatives, they'll go GOP.

Posted by: at Sep 15, 2005 7:20:12 PM

Frankly, in what way is the leadership of the Dems more conservative than they were in the past?

Is John Conyers, who would be head of the Judiciary committee if the Dems had a majority, more conservative than southern racist Sam Ervin, who chaired the committee when the Dems ran Congress in the 1970s?

Is Charlie Rangel, who would head Ways and Means, more conservative than past Dems who ran the committee.

Is Barney Frank, who would chair the committee on Financial Services, more conservative than Dems who oversaw banking interests in the past?

Is Nydia Velázquez, who would chair the committee on Small Business, more conservative than the white guys who oversaw business interests in Congress back when?

And the list goes on. In fact, the leadership of the Democrats in Congress is MORE PROGRESSIVE than they were thirty years ago.

But there are far fewer of them, so they can't enact progressive policy. But you are bashing them for lacking votes, which just seems misguided.

It's just not factual to argue that John Conyers and Charlie Rangel and Nydia Velazquez are "GOP lite."

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 15, 2005 7:35:47 PM

thecountess:"It was a tactical move on the part of suffragists to work on the war effort, with the hope that their hard work would be recognized and rewarded. It wasn't. The first wave of feminism came from women who were working in the major reform movements of that day. Until the war, they had been very active in the abolitionist movement, but they could not hold leadership positions. The first wave of feminism grew out of the abolitionist movement. They were relegated to grunt work, and they weren't happy about that. Men made the decisions. The full and equal participation of women was not wanted. They were expected to work within the "women's sphere". By the time the war had started, those feminists realized that they weren't being taken seriously by abolitionists and liberal men - men who were supposed to be their colleagues. That's why they took on patriotic work during the war - they wanted to be taken seriously, and they were angry that they weren't. "

Pete: First, this paragraph borders with plagiarism. But more importantly, hasn't it ever occurred to you that the feminists of the 19th century took on patriotic work, not for their own interests, but because they were patriotic? This may be a hard concept for you to grasp, but they probably loved this country, reguardless if they weren't happy, or they weren't being taken as seriously as they would have liked. It seems to me from reading about the Victorian Age, women used to be a lot more mature than they are today.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 15, 2005 7:59:44 PM

I'm a feminist, but I'm also a conservative republican. I don't see there's a problem
being both. I believe we, as women, should have the exact same rights and privileges
as men, but in reference to our reproductive rights - I believe, when I get pregnant,
my "choice" is already made...there is at that point, someone else's rights that take
precedent over any other choice I might wish to make. I could have used contraception,
but "chose" not to, so therefore, a new life is conceived. That little person's "right
to life" outweighs my "freedom of choice" at that point.

Anyway, that's my view.

Joy Kelley

Posted by: Joy at Sep 15, 2005 9:53:44 PM

[Dem] Mass. Lawmakers Override Contraception Veto [by GOP Governor]

No difference?

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 15, 2005 10:08:34 PM

But there are far fewer of them, so they can't enact progressive policy. But you are bashing them for lacking votes, which just seems misguided.

It's just not factual to argue that John Conyers and Charlie Rangel and Nydia Velazquez are "GOP lite."

Don't put words in my mouth, Nathan. Read what I actually write.

Nowhere did I mention Conyers, Frank, or Velazquez; nor did I call those three GOP lite. Furthermore, I am not "bashing" the Dems for lacking votes. I'm calling the Democratic Party out on its righward tilt. And I'm just talking about the past ten years or so, not the past thirty.

Go on, look at who was backing welfare deform. Look at who started NAFTA. The Defense of Marriage Act in 1996--30 Democrats voted for it; 14 against. Not very progressive. Nice way to say thank you to the gays and lesbians whose votes helped get the Dems in office. Look at the underwhelming response to the objections in the 2000 election. They didn't need the votes for that, they just needed some backbone. At least half of the country would have been with them, at least half of the country voted for Gore. Maybe not as enthusiastically as he'd like, but we voted. It's not as if the Democrats were going to lose our support over throwing a lifeline to their own constituents in Florida.

This history has alienated people. You might not like it, but it's a problem of the Dems own making.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 15, 2005 10:36:31 PM

Joy:I'm a feminist, but I'm also a conservative republican. I don't see there's a problem being both.

Pete: You'll fit in good, here.

Joy:I believe we, as women, should have the exact same rights and privileges as men,

Pete: rights and privileges is one thing, but responsibilities seem to be exclusive duty of men.

Joy:but in reference to our reproductive rights - I believe, when I get pregnant,my "choice" is already made...there is at that point, someone else's rights that take precedent over any other choice I might wish to make. I could have used contraception, but "chose" not to, so therefore, a new life is conceived. That little person's "right to life" outweighs my "freedom of choice" at that point. Anyway, that's my view. Joy Kelley

Pete: You believe women should have the same Rights and privileges as men, but no responsibilities! You are a feminist.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 15, 2005 10:46:35 PM

But Sheelzebub, if you are complaining about specific politicians -- in most cases cited, less than 20% of Dems, why talk about "Democrats"? People are talking about leaving a party where 80% of the elected officials vote with progressives 90% of the time.

That's not perfect, but it's hardly a reason to walk away, just to demand more.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 16, 2005 12:59:57 AM

Actually, Nathan, the majority of Dems went with the neo-cons on the Federal Marriage Amendment. They all voted to confirm Scalia. They all sat on their hands during the 2000 election when their constituents wanted to bring forth a grievance about voter supression in Florida.

We have been demanding more--and we're told to keep quiet for the good of the party, to support the anti-choice or pro-corporate or homophobic candidate for the good of the party.

It's starting to grate. And the party's going to see a bigger exodus if they don't start remembering who their base is. This waltz with Roberts is another example.

Their base--the people who voted for them, who volunteered for them, and threw cash their way--has been demanding more from them, only to see them reaching out to homophobes and misogynists, ignore the growing anti-war sentiment, and betray their constituents. It is not particularly inspiring to hear the people you've supported talk about bargaining away your rights in the name of bipartisanship or reaching out to more conservative party members.

You might not agree with someone's decision to leave the party, but you can't deny that people are alienated. And they have good reason to be.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 16, 2005 7:28:58 AM

I'm glad Mass. Dems vetoed that bill. I'm glad I live in Massachusetts. I knew Romney (a Republican, by the way) would veto it, and the Dems here did the right thing to override that veto. I think I mentioned on your blog, Nathan, that I have no problem with voting for Dems in my state. I know the Dems here stand up for issues important for women. That's not my only criteria for voting for a Dem, but it's an important one to me. I wish more Dems across the country stood up for their base (women, in particular), but too many of them are abandoning women to move closer to the center. As Sheelz said, it can't be denied that many Dems (such as myself) feel alienated by their own party. If the Dems expect their supporters to continue to support them, they have to stand behind them, not abandon them for the sake of "party unity" in order to stand up to the Bush administration.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 16, 2005 8:32:04 AM

Sheelzebub- As I note, you are demanding that politicians make purely symbolic and, in some cases, politically suicidal votes that wouldn't make a bit of difference.

DOMA was going to be enacted, so some politicians voted in support rather than lose their next election.

But when the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage came up for a vote, Democrats solidly voted in opposition, blocking the passage of the amendment. That vote actually mattered and made a difference.

And when the Republicans in the House passed the Marriage Protection Act last year to bar courts from deciding whether DOMA was unconstitutional, Democrats overwhelmingly voted against it. And the

And just this last week, Democrats were able to engineer a vote in the House, with a few friendly GOP votes, to support an expansion of hate crimes legislation to include not only crimes against gays and lesbians but transgendered people as well.

So all I hear is folks demanding meaningless symbolic votes, while ignoring the actual votes by Democrats that made a difference in defending gay rights, abortion rights, civil rights and labor rights.

I'm not arguing that the Dem leadership does everything right, but what I hear is people picking out two or three bad votes cast compared to literally thousands of progressive votes by most Democrats in the last decade.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 16, 2005 8:46:30 AM

Trish- My point is that the actions of Mass Dems are hardly unique-- where Dems control the agenda and their votes can make the difference. Look at California. Look at Illinois. Look at New Jersey.

Once Dems are in the minority, voting "correctly" doesn't help anyone and may just cost them election. Which is the goal of the GOP when they have political control to set up no-win situations for elected Dems.

As I've said, I think Kos is too abrasive in his rhetoric, but his point is simple. It's actually better FOR ABORTION RIGHTS to elect a few PRO-LIFE Democrats, if that allows the Dems to take control of the majority and the Rules committee. If a pro-life Democrat will support a pro-choice chair of the rules committee, anti-choice legislation never comes to a vote in the first place.

That kind of strategic support for pro-life Democrats, in cases where a pro-choice Dem can't win, is not "moving to the center" but a way to actually win on pro-choice legislation. The anti-choice GOPers strategically support pro-choice Republicans for the same reason. Karl Rove isn't "moving to the center" when he supports Linc Chafee or other pro-choice Republicans. He knows that once Chafee votes for Bill Frist for Majority Leader, who can then largely decide what legislation can even be voted on, the pro-life agenda is advanced far more than it is hampered by an occasional pro-choice vote later.

So unless you think Rove is selling out the far right, why is advocating similar strategic action a "sell out"? That doesn't mean you can't argue for a different, possibly better strategy, but it's unfair to accuse others of "abandoning women" when they are making a case for why their strategy will lead to MORE pro-choice legislation and better laws for women in the end.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 16, 2005 9:26:40 AM

Well, except then those pro-choice politicians decide that pro-choice votes are political suicide since their pro-life candidates did so well.

And yes, Nathan, it's pretty fucking alienating to have the majority of Dems vote with the fasicsts on a law that denies people their civil rights and spreads right-wing paranoia. Thanks for your support, but you're a big threat to marriage, dyke. We'll make it better later on. They started voting progressive because tthe message started getting through that people were dropping away from the party because--surprise, surprise--of their prior votes.

We've got Dems on the judiciary committee whining about how they're expected to vote against Roberts despite his merits. What merits would these be--we don't even have the full information on him. And they're agonizing over whether or not to confirm him. Based on these mysterious merits and history that remain opaque. I couldn't expect to get a job at Starbucks with the kind of obtuseness Roberts has shown. And if they vote for confirmation, we'll be told it's all done in the name of strategy, and we should just have faith. Even though the GOP has made it very clear what they think of bipartisanship.

Suicidal votes? They're rightward tilt is killing the party and losing their support. Why do you think the GOP had such a sweep? The Dems tried to coopt their rhetoric, lost their base in doing so, and got no conservative votes. If you're going to vote conservative, you'll vote GOP.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 16, 2005 12:32:05 PM

First, a majority of Democrats never voted for DOMA, although far too many did. Here's the link to the roll call on the vote, where 118 Democrats voted AGAINST DOMA-- almost twice as many as voted for DOMA.

Why make false statements that a "majority" of Dems voted in favor of DOMA?

And yes, for some politicians in some Congressional districts, a vote in favor of DOMA would have meant instant retirement.

What annoys me is that supporters of HRC and NARAL complain about Dems not voting 100% on gay rights and abortion, but then turn around and justify supporting GOPers who consistently vote against labor, immigrant rights and an even larger number of progressive issues.

So a Dem candidate can't ever make a cowardly vote, but far worse Republicans get endorsements?

And again, what "rightward tilt"? Compared to what? Democrats vote more consistently for gay rights than they did a generation ago. Whether hate crimes or employment discrimination or civil unions or even DOMA, Dems consistently vote far more in favor of gay rights than the GOP.

I don't say there aren't criticisms to be made of Democrats for tactical and strategic mistakes on votes, but when you make inaccurate statements that the majority of Democrats voted "with the fascists," that's not strategic disagreement.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 16, 2005 1:00:10 PM

Nathan, the link proves my point. It shows 118 Dems voted YES for DOMA, alongside the Republicans. Jesus.

What annoys me is that supporters of HRC and NARAL complain about Dems not voting 100% on gay rights and abortion, but then turn around and justify supporting GOPers who consistently vote against labor, immigrant rights and an even larger number of progressive issues.

What annoys me is that people insist that we have no right to feel alienated after debacles like welfare deform, NAFTA, and DOMA. That choice is a really big issue during the elections but at no other time. That the adoption of rightward rhetoric--and don't give me the line the party hasn't embraced it with all of that family values twaddle--gives us no reason to feel alienated.,

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 16, 2005 1:54:51 PM

Woops- you're right. Stupid me. On that, you're completely right, although the other votes by Dems in favor of gay rights issues still stand.

I guess it may also be a question of language. "Alienation" just sounds like very passive language, ceding the political arena to opposition strategists like Karl Rove and the rightwing who deliberately created the whole DOMA maneuver to engineer that exact result.

Although I never have seen a problem with talking about family values per se. The fight is over which families are respected and have full rights.

The question comes down to strategy and action. Endorsing Republicans is not "alienation"; it's a strategy by some abortion rights and gay rights groups to support politicians who are terrible on a range of other issues (and worse than almost all Dems), but happen to be good on one issue or another.

I am all for supporting primary challenges to Democrats who vote badly and where the district will support a more progressive alternative. That seems a more reasonable approach-- supporting someone better than the average Democrat -- rather than supporting a Republican who is actually worse on most issues.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 16, 2005 3:15:55 PM

Nathan: "I am all for supporting primary challenges to Democrats who vote badly and where the district will support a more progressive alternative. That seems a more reasonable approach-- supporting someone better than the average Democrat -- rather than supporting a Republican who is actually worse on most issues."

Exactly. That's the quandry I find myself in. For instance, I would never vote for Chafee because he is so horrible on important issues, and he is very supportive of the Bush administration. Just because he rates high on gay and lesbian issues isn't a good enough reason to vote for me to vote for him. However... the Democratic candidate has some problems, too. I feel like I'd be choosing between the lesser of two evils. I'd rather see Dems with a proven track record on a wide variety of progressive issues who don't sell out on important issues such as women's rights. We need people better than the average Democrats. The question is how to get them.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 16, 2005 3:43:02 PM

"Woops- you're right. Stupid me."

No, not stupid, and I shouldn't have been so snotty. This subject gets everyone hot under the collar.

Look, just FYI, Chafee isn't my first, second, or third choice, even though I do have respect for him. Then again, Kerry wasn't my first choice--most of us Massachusetts folks were pissed off beyond belief when he voted for the war--but I voted for him anyway. He would have been better than Bush (and I know that's not saying much, since an inbred gorilla on a bad acid trip would be better than Bush).

The New Democrats--pretty much interchangeable with the DLC--love the family values--they care about aligning with the middle class and pushing to the center. Maybe not all Dems get with it, but the DLC does, and they're setting the tone. At the last convention, that was all the rage. Maybe I should get with it, (at least the middle-class part, being middle-class and all) but I'm unimpressed.

We have Hillary Clinton urging pro-choicers and pro-lifers to come together to push abstinence education. We've got a serious problem with STI's out there thanks to abstience programs.

The DLC had a particularly fun time trashing "leftists" (mentioned like a curseword) in a rather red-baiting, anti-labor screed that praised the "New Democrats" vision of more conservative values--which closely aligned with the middle class. Where is there room for progressives in an organization that holds us in contempt?

The thing is, Trish is right--we need people better than the average Democrat. We need people who are unafraid to be progressive and who'll say it loud and proud.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 16, 2005 9:14:32 PM

I have little truck with the DLC types, but I think that is all the more reason why progresives/leftists need to figure out how to champion the middle class and REAL family values, to edge out both the DLC and the rightwing.

We need majorities to make policy and either we unite the poor and the excluded with the middle class, or the elite will appeal to unite the middle class with them at the expense of progressive constituencies. [Where I'd love to see progressives unite with moderate pro-lifers is on expanding financial support and free medical care for single mothers, something conservatives don't like since it looks like welfare, so women have a real choice on whether to have children.]

But more importantly, I think a lot of progressives, including Dem leaders like the folks I metnioned-- Conyers and Frank and Rangel-- are willing to stand up as progressives on all our issues and fight. They just need more foot soldiers in Congress so they can actually WIN some fights.

That way we get out of this situation of fighting over crumbs with one another.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 16, 2005 9:43:34 PM

Reproductive rights, gay marriage, and other "side issues" are linked with class and economic equality, and it's interesting that they are often portrayed as being stuck in some vaccuum, off on their own.

So the Senator who pushes for universal health care but also pushes for no abortions funded by taxpayer dollars, or waiting periods, or helps contribute to the hostile atmosphere against choice, is screwing over poor people. Women who can't afford to travel across the state (or into another state) to get an abortion are getting screwed. Women whose health plan doesn't cover BC are screwed. And women who are about miscarry but their hospital doesn't have anyone who will do the DX procedure thanks to hysteria over partial birth abortions, is in some serious trouble. She can't get a hotel room nearby to wait for the fetus to pop out and get back to the hospital, and she could go septic.

Gays who can get legal rights by spending the money and time on lawyers, etc. may be able to get by without marriage. But not if you're not wealthy and can't afford to take the time, get the legal help, etc. You can't. Not having this stuff taken care of has economic implications when a partner gets sick, passes away, loses a job, etc. I know people who've been through it--the only wealthy gays I've seen are on TV.

These issues are intertwined.

You may not have much truck with the DLC, but they're setting the agenda and the tone. They're blithely ignoring the likes of Conyers and doing their best to beat down anyone who doesn't follow the so-called Third Way with religious fevor. Foot soldiers is all well and good, but I question just how effective these foot soldiers will be in an organization that boasts a Republican-apologist leadership. Especially when that leadership only wants people who can win--and those people are defined as so-called centrists, like them.

You can decry this all as just wanting symbolic measures, but the effect is the same: rank and filers are leaving the party after trying to back progressive candidates and stick out because anyone's better than the GOP. You can get slapped in the face just so much before you decide to go elsewhere.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 17, 2005 7:47:27 AM

Sheelzebub-- I never called reproductive rights or any of these issues "side issues", and I strongly reject politics that does. On my own blog, despite it being centered heavily on labor issues, I regularly highlight reproductive rights precisely because they are critical workers' issues, often the base requirement for women having any chance of equality in the workplace. And I've highlighted the AFL-CIO support in places like Massachusetts for gay marriage, precisely because the right of gays to equal benefits from marriage and civil unions is as much a labor issue as decent wages and pensions. Which is what the Mass. AFL-CIO said during the vote on gay marriage at the statehouse:

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO came out against the constitutional ban and warned lawmakers it considers the vote a "labor vote" - a daunting specter for those who need election-year union support.

"If you vote the wrong way, the next time we do endorsements, we might not go along with you because we feel it's that important," said AFL-CIO Vice President Celia Wcislo.


So key parts of the Democratic coalition see social issues not as marginal "side issues" but integral litmus test election issues.

But I'll argue for the reverse problem. Too many pro-choicers don't acknowledge that labor issues like the minimum wage or other labor rights are key to equality for women, despite the fact that such measures disproportionately help women who make up a larger share of the working poor. And its the lack of that acknowledgement that can justify an endorsement of a Chafee because he is good on "womens issues", as if his votes against agricultural and asbestos workers (just two big issues he voted with the GOP majority on last year) don't count as "womens issues."

Obviously, a lot of feminist leaders are extremely strong on these kind of labor issues important to women, but the supposed institutional representatives of women (as well as gays) have adopted an often narrow definition of the interests of their constitutency, a narrow definition that inherently divides the progressive movement.

Sometimes the DLC is a distraction in these discussions, since most Democrats aren't members of the DLC. I'm all for bashing the DLC, but when people talk about walking away from "the Democrats", most Democrats are just fellow progressives, struggling to figure out how to defeat the rightwing, so threats to "walk away" is far more a threat to walk away from other progressive groups than the DLC. The DLC would love to see more progressive groups walk; that just strengthens their hand within party manipulations.

There's nothing that stops any group from running a candidate in the next Democratic primary against a wayward official, which is a way to dissent from an individual without "walking away" from the rest of the progressives in the party.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 17, 2005 8:45:55 AM

Too many pro-choicers don't acknowledge that labor issues like the minimum wage or other labor rights are key to equality for women, despite the fact that such measures disproportionately help women who make up a larger share of the working poor. And its the lack of that acknowledgement that can justify an endorsement of a Chafee because he is good on "womens issues", as if his votes against agricultural and asbestos workers (just two big issues he voted with the GOP majority on last year) don't count as "womens issues."

Actually, Nathan, I do reject your charecterization of women who are concerned about choice. We aren't concerned only about choice, though it's often a red herring that gets thrown our way. I'm frankly tired of it.

Our blogs cover all sorts of issues, as so our litmus tests. These include welfare, the working poor, a living wage (and the lack thereof), violence, the war, corporations run amok, unions, and racism. Among other subjects. But it does seem ironic to me that you accuse me of being unfair to the Dems when you paint prochoicers with a broad brush. And the divisiveness--I see that in the whole "Well, YOU pro-choicers don't care about poor people." That's bullshit. It's not an either/or proposition for us. A lot of us hover at the poverty line, a lot of us work in jobs that should be unionized or are unionized. We saw what the Clinton years brought to the poor, and we were unimpressed. We're not going to separate choice from everything else. We haven't justified Chafee support, we said that single-issue organizations have no loyalty to a party. Funny how it's just strategy when it's a "symbolic" vote in Congress, but it's not strategy for single-issue organizations that aren't elected.

Key parts of the Democratic coalition support gay marriage and choice and worker's rights and a living wage. But I see anti-choicers and pro-business types and homophobes getting ahead in the party.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 17, 2005 1:19:02 PM

I'm not at all frustrated by what Change to Win did. I've been in HERE for over two decades and although I realize the unions involved are rife with "business unionism", in the end it's time labor stopped being a john for the Democratic Party. So they stopped CAFTA; big fucking deal. There never should have been a NAFTA, much less a CAFTA. By the way, Nathan, whatever became of the Democracy in the Workplace Act? Another one of those two or three bad votes? Sorry, buddy, no amount of good work done in statehouses far from where I live will compensate for a national tone of selct capitulation and often tepid opposition that has been the Democratic Party since at least Bill Clinton. It may be unfair, Nathan, but lots of folks have had more than enough from a party that once stood for the legalization of marijuana (where did that go?). Tell us what you're willing to do and then do it; maybe some of those disaffected will come back.

Posted by: DP_in_SF at Sep 17, 2005 8:36:33 PM

Sheelzebub-- Now you are jumping to get insulted when I SPECIFICALLY said many feminists are very strong on labor issues. I said specifically that the "institutional representatives" on pro-choice issues, meaning groups like NARAL, don't prioritize such labor issues.

So in no way was I painting "prochoicers" as whole with a broad brush. The exact quote you attribute to me "you pro-choicers" was exactly what I DIDN'T say. You are trying to argue with someone who isn't here.

What we've been discussing are the institutional endorsements by groups, not the viewpoints of individual feminists who I SPECIFICALLY said often are very strong on labor issues, often the leaders on them.


And DP_in_SF, what happened to every labor bill in Congress is that 90%+ of Democrats support them and they get filibustered in the Senate by the GOP. Back under Clinton, labor law reform passed the House and had a majority of Senators in support, but it died under a filibuster attack.

And the Dems blocked the TEAM Act and a host of other anti-labor bills-- and blocked the anti-union provisions of the Homeland Security Act until they lost control of the Senate in 2002. And when did the national Democratic Party ever endorse legalization of marijuna? Folks always talk about some longlost era, when the reality is that most Democrats today are far MORE progressive than those of a generation ago.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 18, 2005 10:57:15 AM

No, Nathan, you said that pro-choicers don't care about labor or poverty issues. That was the quote. Saying later that a lot of feminists do but institutional representatives (mainly, NARAL, a single issue group and not the only pro-choice or feminist group out there) is disingenuous.

Frankly, you might not take much truck with the DLC, but they keep squelching any real progressives from making any headway.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 18, 2005 1:52:27 PM