Monday, December 21, 2009

Political Capital

With the Obama administration pushing ahead with the health care reform bill, it is using up much of its political capital. Opposition hovering at ~50%, as more details of the bill, Manager's amendment, and behind closed doors political maneuvering are revealed, it is likely this opposition will go even higher.

Predictions for the 2010 elections are not good for the Democrats. As Kim Strassel writes in the WSJ: Consider North Dakota. A recent Zogby poll showed 28% (you read that right) of state voters support "reform." A full 40% said they'd be less likely to vote for Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan next year if he supports a bill. In a theoretical matchup with Republican Gov. John Hoeven (who has yet to announce), Mr. Hoeven wins 55% to 36%. Mr. Dorgan has been in the Senate 17 years; he won his last election with 68% of the vote. This should not be happening.

So the Democrats are likely to lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and lose a lot of ground in the house. The President's approval rating is now below 50% as well. What does this mean for LGBT issues?

Well, even with our "Fierce Advocate" we've seen no action on DADT, something that could be stopped with an executive order. We've likewise seen no movement on DOMA. And, in addition, the Obama administration has defied a judge's order to allow benefits for a same-sex couple.

First, its clear that the adminstration is not a "Fierce Advocate" as both Obama, HRC, or much of the elite gay community would like you to believe. Repealing DADT would have been a much easier task than health care reform, with a majority supporting armed service members to serve openly. In addition, even military supported studies have shown no effect on LGBT service members as affecting cohesiveness.

Second, by not acting quickly and forcefully on this "low hanging fruit" Obama has risked gaining any ground on LGBT issues. With elections coming up in 2010, Democrats will be mainly focusing on countering the political fallout from the health care bill. They will not even touch mildly controversial topics, and will likely shy away from any LGBT related bills until after the elections.

After the elections however, the democratic majority will be no more, and Republicans will likely be back in control. Democrats and Obama will then cry foul, blaming the Republicans for no progress on repealing DADT. I do find it unlikely that the Republicans will help move forward any LGBT legislation, but they were never the ones claiming to fight for us. Its a hard choice to choose between a party that promises much and delivers nothing, or a party that promises nothing and delivers just that.

I have more faith in GOProud making progress at CPAC than in this administrations commitment to LGBT issues.

Obama has squandered his political capital on one of the most unpopular and expensive social reforms in history. No matter how eloquently he describes his attempts to help the LGBT community, he no longer has the muscle to enact it.

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