Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DNC Asks Me for Money: No Human Rights Focus, No $$


I received my Democratic National Committee (DNC) survey yesterday—the one that has been discussed at various websites recently, including Americablog.  It informed me that I am a valued leader who has been specially selected for participation.

And then, of course, it dunned me for money.

As Tim Beauchamp reported at Americablog several days ago, there’s nary question on the entire survey about gay rights—about human rights in general.  The list of priorities on which respondents are asked to rank the president’s performance couldn’t be less significant to me—many of the items on the list, that is.

Of course, I care about the current economic situation and job creation—as well as about health coverage for the millions of citizens who have none.  But I also care about torture, about the erosion of protections for privacy and civil rights under the previous administration, something this administration has refused to challenge.

I care far more about human rights and how they drive an administration’s political agenda than I do about the overhyped items that fill the list in the survey—the situation in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, terrorism, and so forth.  These are, of course, concerns.  How could they not be?

But how can we address them—how can we even discuss them—without high-profile, ongoing public discussions of human rights and the values inherent in any worldview that values human rights?  Discussions this administration has absolutely refused to have?

And so, of course, when the questionnaire asked me for money, I informed the DNC (which will very likely not read comments on these forms) that I will no longer be donating to a political party that has no concern for the human rights of a minority community to which I belong. 

Are they crazy, that they think they can keep treating me like a non-person, and then expecting me to dole out money?  When I’m unemployed and without health insurance?

As I’ve shared before on this blog, I’m a lifelong Democrat from a family that wouldn’t dream of voting Republican.  My grandfather helped fund the first campaign of longtime Arkansas Senator John McClellan.  He was a yellow-dog Democrat who was furious, during the last federal election of his life, that many Southern Democrats refused to vote for Al Smith solely because he was Catholic.

I have voted for a single Republican during my entire voting career.  That was because I was working for a struggling historically black college to which he had given sizable donations, and I respected him for his support of that college.

I don’t take the step of withholding funds from the DNC lightly.  But I also don’t take lightly the calculating, cynical, values-devoid approach to human rights issues that forms the warp and weft of this administration’s politics. 

And so I’m not going to give money, and I’m not going to go out of my way to offer support—as much as I loathe what the Republican party stands for.

And it looks as if I am far from alone in distancing myself from the Democratic party right now, even as I would not dream of supporting the Republican party.  Hope Yen reports at HuffPo today that support for the Democrats among 18-to-29 year olds is declining precipitously, per new data from the Pew Research Center.   As Jonathan Salant notes at Business Week, though this generation of young Americans tacks strongly in a progressive direction, it finds no center for its progressive hopes in the Democratic party as it now stands.

And how can it, in a party that talks a progressive game while campaigning, but carries on a morally lame politics of business as usual when it gets into office?  I pled with my nieces and nephews—all of whom were raised, as I was, in strongly Democratic households—not to vote for third-party candidates in the last elections.  I told them that, despite the shortcomings of the Democratic party, at least that party offered a better alternative than the Republicans, whom they’d be helping to elect with third-party votes.

I was wrong, and I now have to face their dismay that they threw away their votes—or so they see it—in the last election.  It is very unlikely that they or their many friends who decided to work hard for Mr. Obama in the last election will go to the polls in 2010.

Only a fool could not have seen this train wreck happening down the track, once Mr. Obama and Mr. Emanuel began to set their pragmatic policies in place and slam their progressive base.  And only a fool would expect me to give money now, after what I’ve seen of DNC support for my human rights and human rights in general under the current administration.

The graphic for this posting is from Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend blog.