You have to admit that as gay people we have some considerable experience at losing. While the pace of change in recent years for LGBT equality feels historic when compared to the African-American Civil Rights Movement and others, decades of losses preceded the wins.
It wasn’t even that long ago that we were losing badly on anything remotely gay. The 1990s saw ”no promo homo” laws barring effective HIV-prevention programs for gay men; ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” forced gays, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers to either lie or be discharged; and the ”Defense of Marriage Act” outlawed our relationships as attacks on straight marriages.
In the land of the losers, the orange-skinned man is king.
After those losses and many others, we did what one does in a democracy: We worked to gain allies, educate voters and change minds. Over time, more politicians came to vote for us, more judges agreed with our legal arguments. Past defeats like DADT became legislative victories. Overreaching federal powers such as DOMA were struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Given that experience, I feel completely justified saying that today’s Republicans are the biggest, whiniest group of sore losers this country has seen this side of post-Civil War Southerners lamenting the dissolution of Jim Crow.
I’ll preface this with my obvious bias: I’m a big supporter of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. My main criticism of the bill would be that it doesn’t go far enough, but given the politics in a play during its passage I know that it’s the best bill we could get.
People may disagree with me. That’s fair enough in a representative democracy. Opponents of the law are free to try to repeal it. And boy, have they! Time and time again, Republicans have voted for bills to repeal Obamacare; time and time again, those bills have not passed the Senate, much less made it to the White House where they would be vetoed.
That’s how our system of government works. It’s all laid out in fairly plain language in the Constitution. Unfortunately, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives slaver and drool over the Constitution like 14-year-old boys flipping through Playboy while ignoring the words. Republicans are working from the fantasy constitution in their heads, the airbrushed and siliconed version that guarantees their way or the highway.
It’s hard not to feel like I’m howling uselessly into the wind given that essentially everyone in the world except a small subset of Republicans thinks a government shutdown — or worse, a default on the nation’s debt — is the sign of a failing government. This is the time when I get out my old copy of P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores — no fan letter to Democrats and liberals — to repeat the quote: ”Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then they get elected to prove it.”
All this comes after a few months of Republican efforts to discourage uninsured young people from signing up for health insurance through the Obamacare market exchanges that opened on the day of the shutdown, probably one of the most morally repugnant political acts I’ve seen since Dick Cheney made torture an official American policy. You want to take away that health insurance by repealing Obamacare? Go ahead and try it. We have a governmental system set up to let you go at it again and again, until you win or give up.
What we don’t have is a system where you get to hijack the country in a toddler-level tantrum because you didn’t get your way. This isn’t about negotiation. This is purely about a minority of politicians threatening our well-being because they can’t accept that they’ve lost. They’re happy to retreat into their fantasies of ”real Americans” because they can’t abide the reality of America.
And what they may leave us with is a political system broken beyond repair.
Sean Bugg is editor emeritus of Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @seanbugg or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.