Thursday, February 11, 2016

More Thoughts on the 1990s

Like Rachel Maddow, I remember the Clinton years — with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act — as a time when LGB (not even thinking of T) people felt completely excluded from the Democratic mainstream. Read Allison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For from those years for a reminder. The compendium may be in your local library if they’re not jerks.

In Minnesota, particularly, we have to live with Hillary Clinton’s recent reminder that our Senator Paul Wellstone, the person who defined Progressive in the recent times, also voted for DOMA.

I wonder to this day if Wellstone actually believed marriage equality was wrong (based on his religion, since he was a conservative Jew). Or did his aides convince him he would never win another statewide election in Minnesota because the rural areas — the “Farmer” and some of the “Labor” of our Democratic Farmer Labor party — wouldn’t vote for a person who thought same-sex people should be able to marry. Maybe his sons will shed some light on that one day.

Did Wellstone take the path, described by Dave Roberts here as fitting Hillary and Bill, of committed progressives who vote against their beliefs for a perceived greater good: staying in office so you can effect other progressive change, and maybe, one day, reverse that other wrong?

I don’t know. All I know is that after the DOMA vote, I advocated changing the iconic Wellstone! bumper sticker from this:

To this:

Because there are no perfect people, there can be no perfect progressives. But there’s a line, somewhere, of how far you can throw the cause over in favor of a rightward path and still call yourself a progressive.

Wellstone crossed it just once, as far as I know. With Hillary's 1990s support of the crime bill and talk about “super predators,” not to mention her continued support of the death penalty, vote in favor of the bankruptcy bill, foreign policy stances, and very late support of marriage equality, she is clearly much more likely to sell out the present for a possible future than I would prefer.

Some folks get tired of being the sacrifice that always "has" to be made.

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