Almost everyone’s heard the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Hell, Senator Hillary Clinton loves that saying so much, she used it for a book’s title – and in stump speeches! Well, if that adage proves true, then one could say it takes a nation to birth a party platform. And it may be as painful.
As we speak, operatives and politicos on both sides of the aisle are hammering out their final philosophy, the document that will guide them to November and, they hope, to the White House.
Rather than keeping the drafting internal, both party’s are trying to reach out to voters, the Republicans with a website and the Democrats with community drafting committees. These structures, set up by Barack Obama and spread across the land, give ordinary citizens a bit more say in the matter. But, as with all civil negotiations, everyone wants a piece of the political pie.
Too bad no one ever said democracy’s fair – or, if they did, had never heard of the Rolling Stones.
The Democratic platform has been suffering some gay growing pains as of late, and the National Stonewall Democrats yesterday held a conference call to discuss some of the progress that has been made and the issues that remain.
The first half of the call consisted of delegates like Patricia Todd and trans activist Diego Sanchez, as well as Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, lauding the party’s new platform as “historic” and “inclusive.” Baldwin, who sits on the drafting committee, celebrated the document’s direction thusly: “It’s not just the rhetoric that we’ve seen in weaker language in previous platforms. This platform is made particularly strong because we go from rhetoric to policy and substance.”
For example, the platform now whole-heartedly supports repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and explicitly includes the gays within its familial boundaries, “We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation…” The party also declares, “Democrats will fight to end discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age and disability in every corner of our country, because that’s the America we believe in.” One friend called these words “pretty damn comprehensive,” but not everyone agrees.
Some gay activists and journalists are wondering why the document never says the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender.” They would prefer breaking down the queer communities to ensure complete, fool proof inclusion. One activist wondered whether the tempered language represented a “new Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The queers are here, sure, but they’re meant to neither seen nor heard. A key component of the larger organ falls silent.
A reader wrote to us yesterday and asked if we were “outraged” by the perceived LGBT exclusion. And the answer, in short, is “no.” After reading over the platform – here’s a PDF – we’re particularly struck by a section entitled “Renewing The American Community,” which reads, in part:
We could all choose to focus on our own concerns and live our lives in a way that tries to keep our individual stories separate from the larger story of America. But that is not who were are. That is not our American story… Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking of yourself, fulfilling only your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it only when we join together in something larger than ourselves that we can write the next great chapter in America’s story.
It seems to us that it’s far more important – not simply as Democrats, but as Americans – to form a more cohesive unit. Think of it as some sort of civic orgy. We can all have our thing – gay, lesbian, bear, John Kerry, or whatever – but in the end we’re all getting off together. And, perhaps, moving into better digs.
On a seemingly unrelated note, all this talk got us to thinking about the Tom Tom Club’s classic track “Wordy Rappinghood,” covered here by Chicks on Speed…