In 2008, a coalition of women, racial minorities, environmentalists, labor unions, civil libertarians, antiwar activists and LGBT people helped elect Barack Obama President of the United States, along with a large Democratic majority in the Senate and House of Representatives.
In 2010 Obama and the Democrats suffered a setback when the Republicans took the House. In 2012 Obama was re-elected President and, though the GOP kept the House, the Democrats retained the Senate. This year threatens to be another bad year for the Democrats, with Republican candidates ready to topple red state Democratic Senators on their way to a Senate majority. Even Nate Silver, who predicted Obama’s re-election, gives the GOP a good chance of taking the Senate.
What happened? The rise of the Tea Party as a major part of the Republican coalition helped that party in 2010 and promises to do so again this year. And Obama’s second term follies and misfortunes have energized his enemies and disillusioned his friends. In addition, 2014, like 2010 before, is a mid-term election; and mid-term elections favor the GOP. This is largely because the people who usually vote in mid-term elections are the old, the rich, the white and the male; the types of people who usually vote Republican.
On the other hand, the young, the poor, minorities and women, people who usually vote Democratic, often stay away from the polls in non-presidential elections. I suspect that LGBT people also fall in that category. Republican candidates also have a lot more money to spend, both from their own well-stocked pockets and from wealthy donors who realize that a GOP victory will help their interests. Democrats, who do not have as many deep pockets to draw from, are not as fortunate.
It does not have to be that way. A successful get out the vote campaign could counter the Republican and Tea Party money machine and elect Democratic and Progressive candidates. It’s not easy. A lot of people on our side only vote in presidential elections, and only when they can vote for a charismatic candidate like Barack Obama.
They were not brought up on the belief that voting is both a right and a privilege; a privilege that is denied to millions of people around the world. They do not realize that electing a senator, a congressperson, a state governor or a state legislator is just as important as electing a President. As a result most non-presidential elections are decided by a small minority of eligible voters, and a conservative minority at that.
Though my Log Cabin friends disagree, I believe that the interests of the LGBT community are better served by electing Democratic or Progressive candidates for political office. Just to give you one example, marriage equality in America has made the most progress is blue states with Democratic and Progressive governors or state legislatures. On the other hand, Republican and Tea Party state governors, attorney generals and legislators in charge of most red states are doing their best to prevent the spread of marriage equality. Though not all Democratic politicians have evolved on the marriage equality issue - Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler is a good example - most political office holders in the U.S. who favor this important cause are still more likely than not to be Democrats.
We only have a few weeks left until Election Day. The Republicans are using their lavish campaign funds on negative campaign ads that tarnish their Democratic opponents and discourage the Democratic base. We cannot let this happen. Though I am sure all my readers are ready to go out and vote on November 4, you must know people who need convincing. Let us get them out to vote, by any legal means possible, and let us elect candidates who will work for our rights and our interests, and for the common good.