Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What LGBT activists can learn from the Tea Party

Say what you like about the Tea Party, but it has greatly unsettled the political status quo. An article on Reason, "What the Left Can Learn from the Tea Party," explains that the Tea Partiers have gotten results by showing politicians that business as usual would come at a political cost and that the Tea Partiers were willing to sacrifice a few pieces if checkmating their opponents required them to do so:
The Tea Party movement was able to grind the gears of politics as usual by demonstrating to the McCains of the world that single issues matter more than whether the opposing party might win this or that congressional seat.
The article further notes that this lesson has largely been lost on the left:
Soros in particular is a case study in how giving blanket support to a political party can undermine your favorite causes. According to a 2004 New Yorker article about anti-Bush billionaires by Jane Mayer, Soros’ bill of particulars against Obama’s predecessor included Bush’s attempts to spread democracy at gunpoint, his expansions of presidential power, and his prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. In every one of those areas, as in the drug war, Obama has not been significantly better than Bush.

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As Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, told Sullum, Obama has been able to pursue the war on drugs as usual partly because “those who care have not made him pay a political price yet.”
Queer activists in particular need to learn this lesson. Team Blue's cheerleaders often tell us that we must support Democratic candidates, no matter what, if for no better reason than to keep Team Red from gaining power. In doing so, however, we simply show Team Blue that it may do as it pleases on our issues, since we will not make it pay a political price. If the Tea Partiers will sacrifice a pawn now and then to win the game, we should be willing to do so as well.

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