Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Democrats Find Their Mojo

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 26, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Democrats, Don't Ask Don't Tell, DPBO, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, health care reform, Reconciliation

Democrats seem to have suddenly realized that they are the majority party. The 99-pound weakling party of the past year and a half suddenly grew into muscular, beefy adulthood yesterday, and they're not going to take it anymore.

That's the message emanating out across the country from Washington. When the Senate sent the initial health reform bill to the House, the bill that was just signed into law by President Obama, it contained elements unacceptable to many House Democrats. But they voted for it anyway, in order to avoid the avowed Republican strategy of playing the bill like a ping pong ball back and forth between the House and Senate. (The same bill must be passed by both Houses in order to get to President Obama's desk, where it can be signed into law.) So House Democrats agreed to vote for the bill, warts and all, on the condition that a second measure, a "fix it bill," would be passed to address the unacceptable elements of the main health reform bill. And that second bill was passed by the House, and sent to the Senate for consideration.

Republicans in the Senate fiendishly planned to knock back the weakling Democrats' fix it bill by sending it back from the Senate yesterday with changes. That would have required the House to vote, yet again, on the new bill, at which point the slim Democratic majority would show its many cracks and fall apart, creating political chaos among the Democrats.

That didn't happen.

Instead, a giant Democratic Party appeared and knocked the Republicans into kingdom come. The Senate Republicans in fact did manage to get some changes into the health reform bill, and sent it triumphantly back to the House to die amidst contentious debate. It didn't die, but instead was passed immediately by the House and went straight to President Obama's desk for signature. Republican bullies muttered threats of electoral doom and physical intimidation, but Democrats, unlike their scaredy-cat past, just ignored them.

The Democrats have found their mojo. That's great for our country, which finds itself, finally, after wandering for so many years in the health care desert, in the promised land. And that's good for the gays.

With a newly revitalized ENDA ready backstage, set to be marked up when Congress returns from the Easter break in two weeks, the Democrats are going to need that mojo. There are enough votes in the House, and maybe enough votes in the Senate, but the real question is whether Republicans are going to be able to threaten and bully conservative Democrats into submission. Also on deck are DADT reform and the domestic partnership benefits for federal workers bill.

There are two ways this can go.

First, and I hope more likely, Republicans will make their usual blustering, bullying, howling approach. They will invoke God and the Devil, fire and brimstone, and threaten Armageddon. But instead of flinching, backing down and apologizing, Democrats will step up to the plate, steely eyed and ready for anything, confident in the knowledge that success breeds success, and everybody likes a winner. ENDA will pass the House. Triumphal music will swell in the background. The Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Reid, who has a majority of Senators in favor of ENDA, will bring another 5 into line, or will attach the bill to another major "must-pass" bill, as he did with the hate crimes bill. ENDA will pass the Senate and proceed to President Obama's desk. The same will happen with DADT repeal and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations bill.

But another possibility, and I hope less likely, is that Republicans will make their usual blustering, bullying, howling approach. They will invoke God and the Devil, fire and brimstone, and threaten Armageddon. Democrats will forget that they are the 800 pound gorilla. (Q: What does the 800-pound gorilla get? A: Whatever it wants.) They will flinch, back down and apologize for being Democrats. They will step off the plate with their heads down, knowing that they are losers, and nobody likes a loser. ENDA will fail in the House. Sad music will swell in the background. The Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Reid, who has a majority of Senators in favor of ENDA, will ignore the bill, letting it die a lingering death. The Democrats will be too ashamed to even bring up the subject of DADT repeal or the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations bill.

I remember a similar situation when I was in high school. I was kind of skinny and seemed a bit fey. John MacDonald was one of the schoolyard bullies. He went out of his way to insult me whenever he could, and to threaten me. He hinted that he would beat me up. I was scared. But I wasn't that little. At that point, I was already about 5'10" and 170 pounds. But I wasn't a fighter. I imagined what his fists might do when they hit my face, and what I might be able to do in return. I didn't relish the thought.

One day, he stopped me in a crowded hallway with hundreds of students rushing past us to their next class. We might as well have been alone in the hallway, as no one was going to interfere with John MacDonald. He blocked my passage, and I stood their with a load of books in my arm, and my crooked glasses staring at him. "Are you going to let me pass?" I said. "No," he declaimed. "What are you going to do about it, pussy?" he sneered. He balled his fist and brought back his arm to hit me.

I recognized that I was at a decision point. I could back down, and try to avoid getting hit, and we would both then know that I would always be vulnerable to him. I would then be forced to forever avoid his eyes, to go down back corridors to avoid his presence, and even so to have him seek me out as a convenient target for his crazy rage. And not just him, but other bullies would hear of this day and come to seek out the weakling.

I dropped my books, threw my glasses to the ground, not wanting to get glass in my eye, and socked him once, twice, three times. I didn't stop until they separated us. He wasn't seriously hurt, but that was one bully that lost his taste for threats, with me at least.

The next day his mommy called my house, asking my parents why their son got beat up and demanding apologies and reparations. My mother told her he deserved it and hung up. I never had a problem at school again.

I do not advocate violence, but I do advocate self-worth and self-defense. I hope the Democrats take heed when they get back from Easter break.

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The GOP blew it when they appeared to support the actions of right-wing protesters that yelled slurs at Barney Frank. They have no moral authority with the center now.

Sarah Palin is in Texas right now campaigning for John McCain and her Facebook Flock are PISSED at her for supporting a progressive. I really don't know that this means politically for the GOP but it is chaos. Now I regret having my Team Sarah account deleted! Their must be a lot of exploding heads there right now.

Actually, I hope that they dont forget their mojo when they come back from the break. Its too easy for them to come back and ride the happy wave that they did something.

They need to realize that they need to do something big every day. Not just today, but tomorrow and the next too. Thats what leaders do. Lead.

Right on, Gina. That's what leadership is, and that's what they signed up for when they ran for office. The Democratic Party campaigned on a platform of rights for LGBT Americans, and they need to do the job they advertised. I'm sure they're tired and it's hard to fight like this on so many fronts. But that's what you get when you put yourself out front to be the people's champions. It's not all cocktail parties and campaign contributions.

The GOP is in free fall heading to the right fast as it can go leaving moderates like me in the dust.They will be lucky if I vote for any of them this year.Now if they Dems can just remember to work together they can do great things just dont do the same thing the GOP is doing tossing out its moderates.

Politics is a contact sport with no rules.

Yes, let's hope that this is a first step on a long hike and not a once off valiant stand.

It was interesting seeing John McCain on the Today Show the other day. He added a new word to his limited vocabulary, "Sleazy." "Americans do not like the sleazy way this law was forced on them." He must have used it over a dozen times.

I also think that because of his age, his memory is lapsing. He forgot how the sleazy way Republicans crammed the Patriot Act down our throats. The sleazy way they forced "abstinence only" birth control on our children. (Worked so well for Sarah Palin's daughter.) And how sleazy they made up false intel to force us into a war we didn't need to fight. Oh, yeah. John McCain knows sleazy from the inside.

The dems may have found their mojo and have it working. They may even be able to use it to get ENDA and DADT passed. However, which version of ENDA will they pass? The full inclusion version or the transgender exclusive version.

It has been reported that during the bruhaha over the health bill, Barney Frank released a statement about ENDA and indicated that it should be out of markup shortly after the Easter break. However, he reiterated his November 2009 comments that transgender inclusion is still troubling and a sticking point among the democrats.

Given Frank's track record on this issue, don't be surprised if the approved ENDA bill comes out of committee markup trans exclusive. After all, trans inclusion is just a bargining chip for Frank. Deleting trans inclusion from the bill gives Frank a convienent concession he can make to get the bill passed for gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Don't be surprised if after doing so, Frank makes an empty gesture of submitting an Enda bill for transgender people or promising to get transgender inclusion at a later (read never going to happen) date.

I hope this never happens, but to quote someone else, "hope for the best...Expect the worse".


Trans inclusive? I think it ought to be broadened and made all inclusive. After the list of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and so forth they ought to add language to the effect of "or any other personal characteristic that is not job performance related". I'm sure someone can refine that language but my point is fix the law so it doesn't need future amendments to cover some group that has been left out. Then you will really have a truly inclusive employment non discrimination act.

What? And act like being employed is actually important and that anyone who employs people should take it seriously?

What crazy world would that happen in?

Oh, wait, that'd be like France. And they tried to get rid of that law, only slightly, back in 2005. The government passed a law saying that people under 25 could be fired without documentation in their first 6 months of work. Protests shut down the country for weeks. The government was forced to change the law. And me and the Americans I knew here at the time all had to ask to have the protests explained to us over and over, because we just seemed so out there.