Rebecca Juro

Let's Call The Democrats What They Really Are: The Nibbler Party

Filed By Rebecca Juro | June 08, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Democratic Party, ENDA, politics

Have we had enough yet? I don't know about you, but I certainly have.

This past Sunday, I went to Asbury Park and attended Jersey Pride. As is the norm for this annual event, the heat was oppressive, the festival was crowded, and LGBT's were lauding Democrats for doing exactly nothing useful to protect our basic civil rights and equality. The only actual politician I saw there is one of the good guys, Congressman Frank Pallone.

Congressman Pallone has always been an ally of our community. He's marched with us, and he's always on the right side of our issues in Congress. It would be great if we had another 534 members of Congress just like him, but unfortunately we don't. What we do have is a White House and a Congressional leadership that say all the right things, issue plenty of oh-so-supportive-sounding press releases and proclamations, but then run the other way when it's time to back up all the pretty words with real leadership and action.

The hate crimes law, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the provision of a few benefits to federal employees, the appointment of a handful of LGBT's to government posts, these are all good things, important things, things we should appreciate and be thankful for, but any LGBT American who thinks this is credible support for our equal rights and treatment under the law is kidding themselves.

Time after time, year after year, session after session, Democrats make promises to this community, throw us under the bus, delay action on our rights into oblivion yet again as soon as the going gets even a little rough, and then toss us what amounts to crumbs to soothe our anger in an effort to win our votes and support for the next election.

The Democratic Party, you see, really isn't very democratic at all.

Wikipedia, admittedly at times a questionable source, offers what I believe is a pretty good partial description of democratic principles as "...reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power...." It certainly sounds like the rhetoric we hear from the Democratic Party, but it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the country we actually live in nor to the way these people actually legislate. If the Democratic Party as a whole really believed in the principles of democracy and put them into action, if they legislated as if they really believed these things, LGBT equality would be a no-brainer.

Yet that's clearly not what we see from those who call themselves Democrats, so I believe it's time we started calling them by a name that truly reflects the principles that guide the way they actually legislate: The Nibbler Party. It's far more accurate description of the way the Democratic Party approaches the rights and equality of LGBT Americans, managing to protect only relatively minuscule, politically-convenient handfuls of LGBT Americans from discrimination and offer them just a paltry few benefits. Incremental baby steps that do little or nothing to help the vast majority of unemployed and underemployed LGBT Americans, with Blue Dogs whining all the way and a Party leadership which still clearly lacks the spine to really get serious about treating all Americans fairly and equally.

So I say from now on, let's call 'em the Nibbler Party. It'll remind us when we go to vote that we can't really expect Nibblers to seriously fight for LGBT Americans if it inconveniences the Nibbler Party in even the slightest way, nor can we expect Nibblers to expend any serious political capital on our behalf. We'll know and understand that when it comes to LGBT equality the only constituency we can count on the Nibbler Party to protect is itself, and the only jobs Nibblers will be really concerned about protecting in the end are their own.

It'll help LGBT and allied voters understand that the best we can hope for from the Nibbler Party isn't real progress toward a better life for all LGBT Americans, but only these minor, easy-to-deliver legislative and regulative crumbs which look good on election season mailers, handouts, and Pride Month proclamations, sound great mixed with their empty rhetoric, unkept promises, and valueless sloganeering from HRC dinner podiums, but in reality offer little if any real help to the vast majority of LGBT Americans still unemployed or underemployed as a result of the rampant unchecked anti-LGBT bigotry and discrimination that remains so much a part of modern American culture, a community still suffering what is nothing less than a full-blown employment and economic crisis in most of the US.

An informed electorate is always a good thing, and so we should do our best to make sure that LGBT and allied voters understand that if they cast their votes for Nibblers instead of working to replace them with actual leaders, what we'll keep getting is merely nibbles, small, half-hearted, pathetic attempts to look like they're taking on our issues, but without ever actually delivering anything truly significant nor really helping to improve the lives of any LGBT's except for the tiny numbers who make up the most politically convenient and advantageous sub-segments of our community for the Nibblers themselves.

We need to make sure that rank-and-file LGBT voters know before they go to the polls that Nibblers aren't really leaders on the issues that matter most in their lives, they only want us to believe they are so that we'll vote for them and fund their campaigns, enabling them to go back to Washington, nibble some more, and then come back in a couple of years at election time and tell us yet again that it's progress.

Perhaps if we begin injecting some honesty into how we describe the legislative behavior of the Nibblers when they're called upon to act on their stated principles we'll be able to convince more of them to start acting like they deserve to called Democrats.

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I love your new name for the Dems. They're so timid, ugh.

Squirrels in the park are less timid then they are.

SOME people that hang out in the comments section of Bilerico will get very upset that you are not being properly deferential to our friends/allies - the only party that is willing to recognize our existence.

What do you say to people like him?

I agree with YOU and have written on this theme too at SF Weekly. What are the alternatives we have in this ridiculous scenario? How do you think we can get the nibblers to open their mouths a bit more - by politely asking them or by being more openly demanding?

Do we need organizations (properly vetted, screened, approved, reviewed, underpaid, devoted to the right causes only, diverse, transparent, etc) to help move the nibblers or should individuals take this challenge on - urging each other to consider pressuring them in whatever way seems most fitting (asking them, giving them money, sit-ins, withholding votes)?

I'm curious how you would respond to the Critique-in-Chief if he were to apply his commentary here as he does everywhere else.

It's very simple Patrick. If you want to change politicians, you change their constituents. You can dismiss that because it much harder than "making demands," but sooner or later that is the only real, sustainable way to change politicians.

I like Rebecca's description of Democrats as Nibblers instead of Leaders, but it doesn't acknowledge the other political reality - politics needs issues. It is funded by issues. For every LGBT political dollar there are 100 Anti-LGBT dollars. That's the game. To keep playing the game they need a Right and a Wrong. We are very useful in that regard.

We succeed when people stand with us and support our full equality. Support is never earned with demands or heckling or embarrassment - it requires understanding. Something that doesn't fit on a poster board from Wal-Mart or in a clever little chant. It requires conversation, with friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers.

If you believe "embarrassing politicians" with "crazy shenanigans" or "pissing on them" will make Nibblers into Leaders, please explain your rationale. Just tell us HOW that works.

Yet Bilerico seems to have a let's get GetEqual when they are the only GLBT group that seems to be holding Democrats feet to the fire. Yet we have seen no article about the ineffectiveness of Gay Inc. who is giving the Dems a free pass.

Are you kidding, Tim? I suggest you read some archived stuff here. We've been calling out Gay, Inc. here for years, it's just that they're so pathetic and unchanging that for a lot of us it just doesn't really seem worth the bother anymore.

When I was at Jersey Pride, HRC was there too. One of their clipboard drones came up to me and asked me to support DADT. I responded by asking what HRC was doing on ENDA. She responded that HRC is focused on DADT now, and apparently had not the slightest idea of HRC's position on legislation that would protect the bulk of our community.

Gay, Inc. is just as clueless and disinterested in fighting for real LGBT equality as they've ever been. It's the same old story every single time and a lot of us have just gotten sick and tired of telling it.

So instead you have decided to attack the one group that is actually trying to do something different instead of the business as usual. Ah I see makes perfect sense.

Questions Tim. They are just simple questions. GetEQUAL can answer them or go on a retreat or camping or something.

"Trying to do something different" is one way to look at it, but is it helpful or effective? If so, how.

Oh, what do you think of the term "Nibblers" for Democrats? Any chance they'll take BIGGER bites if we make some demands?

What group would that be, Tim?

The Democrats? Get real. After two generations of this crap, you're going to try to tell me that these people are serious about fighting for us? Where is your evidence? In nearly forty years, what have the Dems delivered that improves the lives of the 99.99% of LGBT Americans who don't work for the government in some capacity? Anything? I'll wait...

HRC? If you believe that one, I've got a bridge for sale in Brooklyn, real cheap, honest.

I am talking about the attack on GetEqual that Bilerico seems to have it out for. They are the ones challenging the Democrats and HRC yet this site seems to have an all hands on deck attack on them. They should be applauded for actually standing up to the Democrats and HRC not torn down.

You suggest they are "willing to take on Democratic inaction." I guess you mean by embarrassing them? How does that help us? Have you ever had a "friend" intentionally embarrass you? Did it motivate you or irritate you? Did it get you to change your mind about something?

GetEQUAL is a group organized to do "crazy shenanigans" but they don't have any strategy or goals (they're working on that). They believe they should be embarrassing and dismissing Democrats and now, apparently, members of the LGBT Media/Community.

There is no "attack" on GetEQUAL - these have been really simple questions.

Sorry but a friend doesn't tell me that they care about me and really wants to help then throws me under the bus. If a friend of mine did that to me they ceased being a friend. You are so blind by your loyality to the Dems you fail to see that they don't care about the GLBT community one bit. I could see if they went after people like Murphy who by their actions have shown to be a real friend. But instead they have gone after the people who say they are going to help and do nothing but foot drag. That Sir is no friend.

I didn't say the Democrats were "our friends." I think it's silly to think that, especially based on something as nebulous as "political promises." Since when do they have any meaning?

I asked specifically why you believe "crazy shenanigans" that intend to "embarrass" Democrats actually help us? When we bring a Committee Chairman "markers because he can't afford them," or we refuse to leave Senator Durbin's office "until we can talk to him" (when he is actually out of town and everyone else makes an appointment) or when we shout incoherently at the President and he proceeds to get everyone to laugh at us or when we make childish demands with the threat of "starving to death" - how, exactly do these stunts help us?

I would also encourage some thought to referring to "friendship" when you are talking about politics. Politicians will never be "good friends," ever. It's always been that way because of the nature of politics. We get what we vote for and we are "stuck" with them. Especially for the LGBT Community because we have NO threat. They will survive with or without us. They play the "us" or "them" card at will - "friends" would never do that. Not real ones.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 8, 2010 1:05 PM

Nibblers is cute.

But timidity is the not the problem with Democrats, particularly the Bigot in Chief.

You can accurately describe the Democrats as one of two bigot/bigot pandering parties, distinguished from the rival gang by their utter lack of honesty. Republicans hate us and make no bones about it - Democrats talk a good line and then stab us in the back. Over and over.

The country is dividing along class lines for the first time in generations.

The polarization and radicalization of working people, GLBT folks, immigrant and imported workers, minorities and others is increasing as the initial shock of 17% unemployment and mass homelessness is replaced by fury and combativeness. In a period of unlimited economic emergency that mounting anger will be fueled by Obama's lunacy of feeding the bloated looter class with TARP, loan guarantees and insurance premiums while instituting draconian cuts in social services and busting unions.

Our first priority has to be to join and support union organizing drives, especially among immigrant and imported workers and unorganized workers in the mining, healthcare and service sectors.

Electoral politics, except for educatinal purposes, and above all lobbying are a diversion from the real fight. This a banana republic and when elections pose a threat to the looter class they'll simply cancel them. They've done all over the world and they'll do it here too. As the population divides hard left and hard right we have to be prepared to lead the fight of working people on the job and in the streets, not an electoral struggle.

Unions are the base from which we can launch campaigns to defend ourselves from the looter class and then offensives against them. Unions are the heavy infantry of social change.

We should also be heavily involved on the antiwar movement, building it so that when the coffins start coming home in droves we can reach out to antiwar GJs and civilians.

Don't be a victim of Obama's racist wars. Don't enlist. Don't fight. Don't translate.

I was thinking exactly the same thing! Let's not associate cowardly timidity with adorable little pets that eat everything in sight and excrete starship fuel.

At least those nibblers produce something actually useful after consuming lots of resources.

Bigot in chief Bill? Sounds like you've been to a few too many Tea Party rallies.

If he were as bigoted as you mistakenly claim he is he'd have NO gay and lesbian appointees

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 8, 2010 4:20 PM

Roberts used to claim that I was a Republican for opposing the Bigot in Chief while she was electioneering for him, promising all manner of Hopey-Changey miracles. Now, she says I'm a Teabagger.

Please, Roberts, fill us in on the details of some of the teabag rallies I attended that featured speeches about Obama as Bigot in Chief. And some pictures too.

Don't have any? I thought not.

Obama's a bigot, and even you don't dare deny that at this point, but you still insist on quibbling about the degree of his bigotry. How many Easter Eggs and how many minor appointments justify Obama's deliberate and conscious sabotage of SMM in California. How many atone for defending DOMA and DADT over and over in the courts? Can you give us the exact number?

No. Well keep counting. You have two more years.

And he's the Chief. So, Bigot in Chief.

Get it?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 8, 2010 4:34 PM

"I had a lot of hope for Obama, but it's not panning out."

-Artist Shepard Fairey, in an interview with Angeleno magazine. Fairey created the famous "Hope" image of Obama during the 2008 campaign.

Let's bring back the New Alliance Party!

CAfurrball | June 9, 2010 8:16 AM

Why ANYONE would back a candidate [or an incumbent, either, for that matter!] simply for their label - Democrat or Republican - and continue to vote straight party when any candidate may vote against your favorite issues is beyond my comprehension.

Find someone - regardless of label/"brand" - who consistently votes in favor of LGBT issues. Any candidate may be voting for themselves, and self-preservation, at any time. It is the candidate who is NOT in it for the money/prestige/fame, and who truly gives a shit about people regardless of the "party line," who need the support. Supporting candidates ONLY for the reason they have the "Democrat" label is ludicrous. MOST politicians are chameleons, and will change to fit in with the local landscape, if they are talking to different crowds, i.e., retirees, people of color, ad nauseam! If seeing Obama in office and the way he has acted in the past 17 months since occupying the White House has not convinced anyone of this, I would be surprised if they DIDN'T have their head in the sand and were in denial of reality.

Sadly, some are only NOW beginning to realize that politicians are hardly "true-blue."

Good points, Becky. But I don't think it's just being timid or afraid, I actually think a lot of them actually don't like us that much.