Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DADT Breakthrough

I'm inclined to view the announced compromise as a real breakthrough. There are lots of fine activists who are warning that this is a "sellout" "bullshit" "nothing" or "less than nothing" or "worse than nothing" and so on: we're Democrats, and there always are such complaints (it's a feature AND a bug).

But it seems to me that this compromise is just a recognition (forced upon too many outrageously lackadaisical Democrats by direct action and pressure from queer communities) that we didn't have the votes to pull this off in Congress as is. This, even though, as we all know, nearly 80% of the American people are behind repeal and so this should be an utterly uncontroversial decision -- except for the fact that the venue in question happens to be filled with old straight white guys most of whom are out of touch millionaires. This compromise functions to take off the pressure enough to make enough of these superannuated patriarchal prigs just comfortable enough with the vote to get it through. Even so, I understand we're scrambling to get the votes in committee.

It looks like we need 15 votes to enact (14 if Byrd sits this one out for health reasons) and so far we have 12 yes to 11 no (a whole array of the worst Republican assholes, McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, Chambliss, Vitter and so on -- but also so-called "moderates" like Lindsey Graham and naked Scotty Brown), since icky Ben Nelson is one of the so-called "undecideds" I'm counting on getting the votes from Bayh and Webb, neither of whom fill me with confidence, but at least this seems more doable than the whole enterprise did a few days ago.

For those who find ominous the language of the compromise punting the actual implementation over to "the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" and only after they "have considered the recommendations contained in [December's] report," all I can say is that the delay to the report was happening anyway, and all three of the figures making the decision are on record making unambiguous statements that DADT should be repealed for practical and moral reasons.

Sure, this could conceivably set us up to get sandbagged, but those who are saying this now seem to me to have arrived late to the party, because before this compromise got things moving again I was thinking this was looking stymied for another generation, incredibly enough.

You're not going to lose many bets if you always just preemptively declare everything hopelessly compromised and ineffectual and corrupted -- politics involves compromises among stakeholders that you commit to despite discomfort at their costs and worries about their always contingent longer-term outcomes, unlike morals and aesthetics in which one can offer up stainless steel visions of best outcomes with which you can then comfortably and whole-heartedly identify.

There's plenty to feel nervous about in this compromise language, there's plenty that will demand close scrutiny and continuing pressure, but, again, this feels like a breakthrough to me. We'll see.

The second this thing goes through for real we should change our mental channels and start pushing like hell for ENDA. That matters far more to me personally than this endless funneling of so much of the struggle for gay rights through the fight for the right to kill people in needless wars, I must say.

1 comment:

jimf said...

> [T]he repeal amendment is still contingent on a sign-off from the
> White House and the Pentagon pending the review scheduled to be
> completed in December of this year. . .

I wonder how this will affect the case of Victor Fehrenbach, who
has been in limbo since last year when he was forced to "tell"
as a result of a rape accusation.

The discharge process was begun, and under ordinary circumstances
would have been completed months ago, but he is apparently still
serving. He actually met with Obama some months ago.

As of the end of this past February:

"[Secretary of the Air Force, Michael] Donley refused to comment on
specific cases such as the potential discharge of decorated fighter
pilot Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach and said, 'We are continuing to
process those cases.'"
( )

One wonders if Fehrenbach's "processing" can be dragged
out for another six or seven months. (There are, of course,
many other lower profile cases, which never got and
are not getting the publicity due to the extremity of
Fehrenbach's circumstances.)