Remember that line? Morrison and the Doors: "When the Music's Over". A nice, uplifting bit of anthemic, rabble-rousing crap. I knew it was crap when I first heard it and it's still crap.
This is not to say that the rhetoric coming from activists in the gay ghetto is all crap. Far from it. "I feel your pain," as Slick Willie would say. (Oh and how I've changed! I'd have never said that about Clinton ten years ago! Never. But time and my cynicism marches on...) Yes, even you, Lane Hudson, dear boy, though I sometimes feel like smacking your bottom and sending you upstairs to bed without supper.
But the rhetoric does rather remind me of a pre-adolescent child whining about such matters as eating the veggies, picking up the toys and behaving less...boorishly.
(Whoa, it feels almost treasonous to write that line. But my inner sophist is having fun with this thesis. Let's see where she goes, shall we?)
It's interesting that politically-conversant folks like Lane should seemingly be so ignorant of the dynamics of politics; the ebb and flow and currents of power. Politics, as Lane and others would have it, should be simple: take a stand, start a movement, lobby, convince your congresscritter and get a law passed. (Hmm, even that has a lot of steps.) Simple, right?
(Short pause for hollow laughter. Special effects courtesy of Dolby Labs.TM)
Politics, it's said, is the only game in town for adults. Everything else is pretty much kid stuff. Okay, tell me the rules.
In this world, at this moment in time: there are six and a half billion rules.
Digest that a moment, will you? Can you agree on everything even your best friend or lover or spouse or next door neighbor might say about this society, this incredibly complex and convoluted civilization?
If you can say yes, I suggest that you really don't know that person very well. And they don't know you very well, either.
Consensus: (literally: to feel together) First, a general agreement; second, group solidarity of belief or agreement. The best we can ever hope for, being the kind of creatures that we are, is a general consensus. Really, really general.
But we might note that, for the first time in American history, acceptance of gays and lesbians (alas, no mention of teh trans and should we even wonder why?) has risen above fifty percent; a slim but measurable majority.
That most of us in America can agree that the GLBT community should have equal rights and opportunities is amazing enough in itself. That some of us want those rights and opportunities right now isn't very amazing at all.
I get kinda tired, seeing and hearing some of our firebrands acting up and acting out. Run for office, why don't you? (Well, it's friggin' expensive, but we'll get to that in a minute.) I become weary, seeing good work dismissed or ignored; good work from folks who move quietly beneath the radar; deal-making and negotiating and taking those incremental steps that can all be individually defended instead of dropping a bucket-full of changes on an unsuspecting public and risking the whole shebang. I grow bored with the rhetoric that demands 'transparency' from Washington and all the State capitols just because it's the right thing to do.
When has 'the right thing to do' ever been a matter of general consensus?
Backroom politics has been a fixture in human relations ever since politics was invented. We should change that? How?
That we are able, after eight long, agonizing years with Bush II and the neocons to have a dialog about this, one we know is being noted and understood, is frickin' amazing all by itself.
It's all about strategy, Lane. (You other kids listen up, too.) All about not putting all of your limited resources into one fight and only one fight. Make no mistake; even the Leader of the Free World is limited in his resources. It's all about not spreading yourself too thin and prioritizing and being a good executive trying to fulfill his promise to bring as much change as he can in the four years he has allotted to him.
Because the next election ain't gonna be no free ride, either. I'll vote for him (unless Hillary runs again. Doubtful.), but I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt. The Justice Department's position on DOMA sucks, bigtime (Incest? WTF? Incest?), but we're getting closer with DADT and ENDA, right?
(Agree with me or you'll get no supper. I mean it. C'mon, nod your head and say: "Yes, Auntie Michelle.")
(I forgot to add impatience to the above list. I'd make a terrible parent.)
My impatience is not with the Administration but with those who demand that something be done now, without delay, this minute, because I want it and need it and I deserve it. This also includes those who want the government to butt out of their private lives. Y'don't want half much, do ya?
I can afford to be a bit smug. I live in good ol' Blue State Oregon, home of the Oregon Equality Act...
Also Measure 36, which is cemented into our state Constitution like some sort of obscene found object sculpture, one that even the artists (the voters of Oregon) regard with a certain distaste. It was an ugly fight, one precipitated by a small cadre of well-meaning liberals who rightly 'wanted it all' and thought it was the 'right thing to do'.
It bit them in the ass and they all scattered to cover their stinging asses, those fine commissioners from Multnomah County who ordered the wedding licenses issued to begin with. And while they were hiding and pointing their fingers at one another (and Diane Linn, a lot), another group stepped in to fill the power vacuum. They did what we should have done and introduced an initiative to change the Constitution and won.
You don't drop a bucket-full of change on anyone. All you do is lose most of it. Someone else will challenge it.
Pendulum swings, baby. Push it too hard and it'll swing hard the wrong way. You're right back where you started, perhaps worse.
Now I have to try to undo what a group of well-meaning liberals did to my rights and privileges as a human being in this part of the World. I gotta bust a little ass and wear out a pair of sneakers helping to fix a mess that shouldn't have occurred in the first place.
If we'd worked out a consensus. If we'd strategized. If we'd made a few deals and negotiated first. Now BRO and the ACLU and others have to spend a whole bunch of money they could be spending elsewhere and utilize a whole bunch of resources they could put into a different fight (DOMA, anyone? DADT?) to reverse a nasty, vile addition to our state laws that allows legal discrimination and bigotry.
I'm not happy about this.
So when I hear "Obama isn't doing enough..." or "Obama isn't keeping his campaign promises...", I want to point to the shining example of my dear home Oregon, a wonderfully liberal state and its largest city; Portland. Where I can stroll down the street as myself, with proper ID that matches my correct gender and name, and be treated with equality. Most of the time.
I just can't marry my beloved because she has an F on her driver's license and so do I.
Take a good look at Oregon, folks. This is what happens when you want the world and you want it now and it's the right thing to do and so what if some people object? Leave footprints on their faces and get 'er done!
(Ooops, wrong rhetoric...)
You wanna give the Teabaggers more momentum than ever before? Keep it up, Lane. You want to lose a few elections for our allies in Congress? Act up and act out some more. Heckle. Jeer. Wave your signs and block some gates.
Works every time.
But if you want some results, get your butt out into the street and change your neighbor's mind. Talk convincingly and logically. Form a frickin' consensus, willya?
That works pretty well, too. You can run for office with a big enough consensus. It's called a mandate. That's when you can get others to pay for it.
(You gotta love capitalism, sometimes.)
Okay, I think we're done, kids. Run along and watch TV, now.
Michelle Diane Rose
June 22, 2010