The election is over, the results are in, and we know that barring a major miracle we can forget about seeing ENDA and pretty much anything else LGBT-supportive happen in Congress for the next two years at least. If we’re to be completely honest, however, Democrats won’t have a realistic chance of taking back the House until 2020, when gerrymandered congressional districts are redrawn.
With this reality in place until at least the next Presidential election, what should we, LGBTs in general and trans people specifically, be doing to ensure that the future will be better?
First of all, we have to refocus on the state and local level. Federal Democrats have repeatedly and clearly demonstrated that LGBT working families can’t count on these people to fight for us, so we have to make our appeals to legislators who might actually be willing to stand up for real American freedom and equality. It’s time for us to stop kidding ourselves and accept that our “friends” in Congress are actually nothing of the sort and that true LGBT equality will only happen in this country once the Democrats see profit for themselves in advocating the issue, as they do with marriage.
Given that we already know all of this, we also know that in order to have a hope of that changing, we’re going to have to shake things up. It’s time for a Progressive Party to start dragging Democrats back to the left in the same way the Tea Party forced the GOP even further to the right than they already were.
Two years is plenty of time, and I don’t believe it would be as difficult a task as it might appear. While the mainstream media may be loath to admit it, the real energy on the left right now isn’t around Hillary Clinton, it’s about Senator Elizabeth Warren.
I was in the audience when Vice President Joe Biden spoke at Netroots Nation this year. He was well received and the audience was very generous with their support and applause. When Elizabeth Warren spoke a couple of days later, though, that audience of politically-active progressives went absolutely insane.
A standing ovation, coupled with seemingly endless chants of “Run, Liz, run!” greeted Senator Warren as she took the stage. Make no mistake about it: Elizabeth Warren is a genuine progressive rock star. Unlike our current President, this is a woman who not only talks like a college professor, but legislates like an activist.
Elizabeth Warren reminds me of the last presidential candidate to generate this level of support from progressives because he wasn’t afraid to speak the truth about our country and about the Democratic Party, Howard Dean. Dean was the very first candidate I supported for President because I believed he reflected my own views as a progressive rather than feeling my only choice was between “bad” or “worse”.
In Senator Warren I see something I haven’t seen since the rise of Howard Dean in presidential politics: A genuine progressive hero, a real leader the left can enthusiastically rally behind who not only gives lip service to our values but governs in concert with them, regardless of who happens to be inconvenienced. She is, in fact, exactly the kind of leader some of us have been waiting for.
Elizabeth Warren is modern America’s progressive heart. She can get progressives involved and enthusiastic about federal politics like no one else. If the real goal now is to push America back to the left rather than just planting yet another corporate centrist in the White House let’s spend the next two years working to nominate and elect Elizabeth Warren, a true progressive.
We still have no shortage of hope, but what America needs now is change we really can believe in.