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“So a Democrat, a Republican and Apathy walk into a bar…”
Now that we’ve seen the “Better Future” offered at the Republican National Convention, it’s was the Democrats turn to pitch to American voters an alternative vision this past week.
America is changing, becoming more diverse and the Democratic National Convention, during its four days in Charlotte, NC showed voters it is more in tune with today’s America where, according to census statistics, women out number men by approximately five million (at age 85 and older, there were more than twice as many women as men); and where people under 20 years of age make up over a quarter of the U.S. population. It’s an America where Hispanic and Latino Americans account for almost half of the national population growth and for the first time in history, there are more minority children born in the United States than white.
It’s an America demanding a different vision from that of yesterday where the mores of a majority White Anglo-Saxon society defined separate and unequal reality for women, Blacks, poor and other minorities. Tampa brought us a vision of a “Better Future” clinging to that past, slow to embrace if not turning back time on many issues of social and economic justice.
While embracing the Romney/Ryan ticket (a Mormon and Catholic team), it held fast to the patriarchal doctrine that has in recent years disempowered women, African Americans, the poor, and other minorities while maintaining the gap between the haves and have nots.
The DNC offers a stark difference to the GOP’s “Better Future,” a different vision for America. You can tell it’s a different vision just by the people in attendance.
Nearly 6,000 delegates from every nook of America made up the 56 delegations – the largest and most diverse Democratic National Convention since Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” at the first DNC convention 180 years ago.
They were White, Black, Latino, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Arab-Americans, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, straight, gay and transgender. It was a convention of as many women as men in comparison to the Republican National Convention’s 46 delegations with its lack of diversity and inclusion. But it’s more than the face of the delegates that highlighted the stark difference between the two parties.
Unlike the discordance between the RNC party platform and Mitt Romney’s platform, the DNC platform reflects the direction not only of the party but its standard bearers – President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
This year’s Democratic Party platform is the most pro-LGBT in history, complete with support for both marriage equality and fully-inclusive employment nondiscrimination protections reflecting President Obama’s evolution on LGBT equality.
The DNC platform language connects LGBT rights to the larger issues facing all Americans reinforcing the reality that LGBT rights are not special rights merely equal rights.
As LGBT rights activist Waymon Hudson puts it, “Employment discrimination protections relate directly to the larger fiscal issue of job creation … (It) shows a party that finally understands that for many in the LGBT community, social issues like equality are very much inexorably tied to fiscal and financial issues; many in the LGBT community get hit with the double struggle of a bad economy and still-legal employment discrimination against them.”
And it’s not just in the platform where the LGBTQ community is being welcomed. There were 541 openly LGBT delegates, 12 of whom sit on the National Committee. One of them is National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) board member and trans-activist Kylar Broadus, has been appointed to the Rules Committee for the DNC 2012 Convention Platform Committee – a real seat at the table.
In stark contrast, this year’s Republican Party platform includes some horrific anti-gay language influenced by Tony Perkins of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, basically saying LGBT people are not among the Americans who deserve “dignity and respect.”
There’s a lot at stake this November.
For women it’s about stopping the attacks on abortion, birth control, reproductive rights, access to health care, equal pay and domestic violence.
For immigrants, it’s about broader comprehensive immigration reform legislation and protection from xenophobic attacks on civil liberties.
For millions of Americans it’s about access to affordable healthcare including continued coverage for the millions under age 26 now covered by their parents insurance; the 47 million women who now are guaranteed coverage of preventive services including contraceptive coverage without co-pays; or the 14.3 million seniors who have already received important preventive benefits under President Obama’s health care law.
Every vote will count this November. Unfortunately after record Democratic voter turnout in 2008, subsequent elections have seen a trend of apathy amongst progressive, Democratic voters the result being set backs on many social and economic justice issues and a dominance of conservative and far-right leaning legislatures at the state and federal congressional levels.
A 2010 study, released by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement showed only 20.9 percent of eligible voters ages 18-29 actually voted in 2010, down from a high of 49 percent in 2008. Recent elections reflect low voter turnout amongst other traditionally progressive voting groups as well.
The systematic attempts to suppress minority votes in a growing number of states is only another indication of how important it is for those of us who support a Democratic vision of a “Better Future” to not sit on the sidelines while others are investing and mobilizing their resources for November elections. Too much is at stake.
The conventions have provided a stark difference of a better future. The choice is yours. So what are you going to do?
A Democrat, A Republican and Apathy walk in to a bar. Apathy tells the customers, “Your vote doesn’t matter” and orders another round. And the Republican marches into the White House.
This joke’s not funny!