Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No, we can't. So...if not now, when.... ?

Words lose their meaning after a while when unaccompanied by actions consistent with expressed feeling or intent.

On Monday, at the White House, we had another example of silver-tongued oratory without action steps. In a meeting with LGBT community leaders, Obama declared that he is moving toward a review and elimination of the 'don't ask don't tell' policy in the military but is not prepared to take action---yet. The convocation was another symbolic gesture--yes, we care, but no, we can't. We are not getting the change we voted for here---and we won't as a result of goodwill gestures and smiling photo ops.

Barack is getting so much right---on the environment, health care (sort of), and the economy (mostly). Why is it that he attempts to pacify the LGBT community with rhetoric?

I have my own theory that I wrote about here a few days ago---not very popular---that he has a blindspot in his personal and religious upbringing that sensitizes him to hear the voices of gay and lesbian citizens, but with mixed feelings.

The Jewish sage Hillel got it right nearly two thousand years ago in the Ethics of our Fathers: "if not now, when?" This exhortation resonated with me when I first heard it as a teen and sticks with me today, comprising a major part of my core values.

We have a Democrat Congress and a popular President with a mandate for change. If not now, when? Next year, midterm elections, and their history of reducing the political mandate of the party in power, suggests a conservative and bipartisan year from a policy perspective. The year after, 2011, is mired in uncertainty and the run-up to the next election---good news for us, potentially, if the economy and health care fixes are working, but watch out if they don't. 2012, an election year, well, forget it ! By my calculation, the answer to "if not now..." is 2013, at the earliest, predicated on re-election. Don't know about you, but I'm takin' it to the streets if we have to wait much beyond the 3rd quarter of this year for action on the issues we care about.

The people, once again, are ahead of our leaders on these issues. How do we amplify our voices and get the change we need?

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