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Habit, or the "lesser-of-two-evils" syndrome, not humanism, is what won Democrats the queer vote.

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Against Progress

by Kelly Cogswell

OCTOBER 10, 2002. "Protect the progressive agenda and vote Democrat," I'm told on a daily basis, or the floodgates to racism, homophobia, and a repeat of election hell 2000 will be flung open.

One queer writer, though you will find similar voices in other minority communities, has even declared that "the movement as a whole is bound to the Democratic Party, and so are the majority of gay voters, about 70 percent of whom chose Al Gore in 2000. The reason for this allegiance — regardless of class interests — is queer humanism."

I would say habit, or the "lesser-of-two-evils" syndrome, not humanism, is what won Democrats the queer vote. The party seems progressive only when compared to the GOP, unless you define progress, or forward motion, as leaving people in the dust time and again.

It was a Democratic President, Bill Clinton, that put his John Hancock on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, U.S. Democratic Senators that confirmed the discriminatory Florida presidential vote in lockstep, and Democrats in Congress that are joining with their GOP brethren to grant new and obscene powers to the man who didn't want to be a global cop, but embraces the role of global thug.

When the bodies pile up in Baghdad and New York, and the Middle East goes up in flames, Democrats will be on the vanguard of war, progressive in a topsy-turvy linguistic scenario where the phrase "preemptive strikes" squats comfortably in the same clause as "last resort."

Meanwhile, the "progressive" left scornful of the Democrats usually moves in circles rather than advancing. Squashing critical thinking in the name of cultural difference, and busy with setting simplistic activist priorities, "progressives" are less often social and cultural liberators than enforcers of traditional misogyny, homophobia, ethnic dominance.

During campaign 2000, "progressive" Greens repeatedly told me that class was more important than race, gender, or sexual identity. More than one "progressive" supporter of a Palestinian state has ignored the torture, violence, and institutionalized homophobia of the Palestinian Authority as if support can never be ambivalent or complex.

Increasingly, the word "progressive" calls to mind less the originating tradition of Teddy Roosevelt's party, which demanded women's suffrage and other social reforms, than the advance perhaps of cancer, or multiple sclerosis.

The only truly progressive Senator last week was the conservative old fossil, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, actually a Democrat, who was the only Senator to vote against considering Bush's Iraq war resolution.

Reactionary and indignant Byrd declared the resolution "not only a product of haste; it is also a product of presidential hubris. This resolution is breathtaking in its scope. It redefines the nature of defense, and reinterprets the Constitution to suit the will of the Executive Branch. It would give the President blanket authority to launch a unilateral preemptive attack on a sovereign nation that is perceived to be a threat to the United States. This is an unprecedented and unfounded interpretation of the President's authority under the Constitution, not to mention the fact that it stands the charter of the United Nations on its head."

To progress, we must regress to the old unsubtle standards, liberty, equality, fraternity, or liberty and justice for all, without hierarchies of suffering or priorities of outrage.

Nothing else can stand in the way of "progress," and this forward march towards war.

Related links:

For the must read full Senate speech by Robert Byrd.

For Progressive Parties in history.

For Complete Coverage of U.S. Politics

For Complete Coverage of Race/Class

For Complete Coverage of Gay Mundo

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race and classThe Gully's complete coverage of race and class, two intertwined pillars of American society.

Gay Mundo
gay pride The Gully's ultragay coverage. Includes musings on activism, info on queers from Taiwan to Puerto Rico and more.

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