Between The Lines Editorial
The interminable war in Iraq, now approaching its fifth anniversary, has so distorted our political system that it is getting ever harder to make sense of what comes out of Washington D.C. Our leaders can approve trillions of dollars for war materiel, yet balk at funding for childrens’ health care. Politicians and candidates fall over each other for media coverage of their latest and toughest stance on “illegal” immigrants, yet in the next breath they will celebrate the importance and sanctity of the “free market” to control labor costs. Political and banking industry leaders bemoan the mortgage crisis, but make no substantive moves to assist any of the parties involved except the large institutional investors.
This crazy disconnect between what is happening and what is important, is why we are not surprised by the Congressional Democratic leadership in Washington who agreed last week to strip the Matthew Shepherd Act from the Department of Defense reauthorization budget, effectively killing any prospect for passage of inclusive hate crimes legislation.
It would be too narrow of us to look at our community’s loss of influence in a vacuum. It is not just the LGBT community that is being ignored in Washington. It is the entire democracy of America that is in peril. We are just the first and among the most vulnerable contingent to feel the sting.
Bush and his dangerous neo-cons are paralyzing the democratic process for political gain and power. The Democrats, believing there is still a viable political process going on, still try to negotiate for scraps at the legislative table. But the neo-cons have no interest in negotiating. They want to rule, and they have cowed and threatened their adversaries with insults that challenge their toughness, their patriotism and their support of the troops. Protecting LGBT people must seem like an annoying, distant buzz amid the deafening and incessant drumbeat of war.
We call on the Democratic leadership to wake up before it is too late.
Anyone with even a basic grasp of economics can understand that the war spending has seriously crippled our nation’s financial health. We should not allow our democratic principles to be a casualty of this war as well.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “No government can be maintained without the principle of fear as well as duty. Good men will obey the last, but bad ones the former only. If our government ever fails, it will be from this weakness.”
We call on the Democratic leadership to get over their fears and stand up to the neo-cons, to insist on fair trade, fair healthcare, fair economic policies and to fight against discrimination – yes, even discrimination against LGBT people. They must draw a line in the sand now, before it shifts out from under our nation’s feet completely.
First it becomes too hard to protect LGBT people, then immigrants, then the poor, then children and old people. Unless we stand up and call on politicians to act now, we may someday in the not-too-distant future find that our precious democracy has disappeared.