I read Mark Segal’s column last week with dismay. Early endorsements are always dicey, but early endorsements of incumbents who have done little for constituents are a mistake.
I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, despite having reservations about his centrist record. But if the election were held today, I could not, in good conscience, cast another vote for President Obama. Voting for or endorsing 2011’s Obama would be a vote/endorsement for continuation of three wars and incursions into Pakistan and Yemen, torture, extraordinary rendition, civil-liberties curtailment, corporate greed, environmental irresponsibility. It would be endorsement of an administration that has proven time and again that it is anti-populist, anti-poor, anti-woman and anti-queer — and feels more Republican than Democratic.
As a lifelong leftist progressive, there’s no way I can support these things.
As a lifelong activist, I have serious concerns about Obama’s credibility as a candidate. I would ask Segal and any other queer — or straight — American: Why does Obama deserve a second term?
Here’s why he shouldn’t. He calls himself a fierce advocate for queers, but the only consistent advocacy during his administration has been capitulation to Republican thuggery and corporate fraud. The recent budget disaster is an indicator of Obama’s lack of leadership. The budget was due in September — when the Democrats still held a wide majority in Congress. Obama was nowhere to be found. Now we have what Senate majority leader Harry Reid called “Draconian cuts” to poor and working Americans — 10 percent of whom are queer.
Under Obama’s tenure, military rape has escalated, a study last week noted. Rapes of lesbians and straight women in the military have gone unremarked by Obama.
Also unremarked is the detention — which Amnesty International has referred to as torture — of Bradley Manning, the gay soldier alleged to have provided Wikileaks with thousands of documents. Manning is being held in solitary confinement and must spend 12 hours a day nude. Obama said simply, “The Pentagon says there’s no problem.”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is actually still in effect, despite the January recision of it, and its implementation remains at the discretion of the president and will continue until 60 days after Obama declares it’s “safe” for the straight military to cope with queer soldiers and Marines.
DOMA is still the law.
These are only a few in a long list of concerns about Obama. Telling Obama now that the slate is clean and he’s our guy is no way to get what we need and want as both queers and Americans. Obama must be held accountable.
I myself am working with other progressives to get a real Democrat running for 2012. Russ Feingold — a longtime real friend to the LGBTQ community — is the name being floated most often.
The queer community, as well as the rest of real America, needs a president who is working for us, not for himself. We do not yet have that in Obama.
Victoria Brownworth is an award-winning journalist and author of more than 20 books. She is publisher of Tiny Satchel Press. Read her political blog at www.victoriabrownworth.com.