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September 16, 2005

A Feminist Blogger Double Standard

Like Trish Wilson, Stephanie Schulte is condemning the Democrats for not always voting right on women and gay issues, and therefore justifying NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign endorsing Republicans:

It's not like the Democrats have a stellar record on gay rights anyway. And isn't the goal ultimately to get both Democrats and Republicans to support gay rights? What incentive do the Republicans have to reach out to gay voters at all? How is HRC supposed to have any leverage in the Republican party if they refuse to work with them just because they are not Democrats?
So because some Democrats vote to screw over gays or abortion rights, it's okay to endorse Republicans who are screwing over unions or other progressive groups, just because they happen to be good on one issue like gay rights or abortion?

And if a union endorses a gay-bashing, pro-life Republicans, feminists would think that's a perfectly reasonable for a labor union to do in the name of "reaching across the aisle"?

'Cause as a labor activist, it isn't acceptable to me when labor unions undermine other progressive groups by supporting conservatives who happen to occasionally vote okay on the occasional labor issue.

There are hard strategic questions on what to do in races where candidates aren't perfect and the occasional GOP endorsement will no doubt happen. But it just seems odd to complain about imperfections by Democratic candidates, then turn around and justify support for far more neanderthal Republicans who are voting to have folks like Delay and Frist controlling the Congressional agenda.

More under the fold on why the criticisms made against the Dems on abortion and gay rights aren't really fair either:

[Some of these coments come from threads over in Trish Wilson's site]

Not that all Democratic elected folks are perfect, but, for example, just this past week, the Democratic-controlled California legislature passed a law MANDATING that pharmacies supply women with the 'morning after" pill.

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 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.

Yes, Dems sometimes defect when the vote is already lost and a good vote would be symbolic (and possibly politically suicidal), but when the votes are substantive and Dems can swing the result, there is such a dramatic difference in how most members of the Dems vote compared to the GOP that it just seems disconnected from reality not to acknowledge that.

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 on the progressive side a "sell out"? That doesn't mean you can't argue for a different, possibly better strategy, but it's unfair to accuse perople of abandoning womens rights 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.

Now, you can complain about the abrasiveness of the rhetoric or how folks like Kos present the argument, but this should be a tactical and strategic debate among people who are allied on most goals. I think it's perfectly reasonable to criticize strategic decisions by the AFL-CIO leadership and such criticism doesn't mean the person is anti-union, so those criticizing the strategic political choices of NARAL or HRC shouldn't be treated as anti-gay or anti-abortion.

Posted by Nathan at September 16, 2005 11:25 AM