9/04/2009

Am I Better Off Than I Was One Year Ago?

My husband at a Health Care Reform Rally.

I'm beginning to ask myself that question as we zero in on November which will be the first anniversary of casting my vote for Barack Obama.

I tried to tell myself that Obama was different and my vote just wasn't a "lesser of two evils" vote. When my LGBT friends tied into the Gay, Inc. told me that Obama would be our best friend, I looked at his statements about marriage equality and had a chilling memory of Bill Clinton and DOMA. But, I voted for him. I figured even if he didn't help us out that at least he could reform health care and get my husband (in name not in document) insurance so he could finally get the colonoscopy he needs as follow up care for his cancer two years ago.

So, I voted for Obama. I convinced friends to vote for Obama, some of whom are registered Republicans, I argued with family about how desperately we needed reform and how McCain could be a horror for this country with his ties to big business and his unstable personality.

I believed Obama when he said we'd be out of Iraq by 2009 and we'd close Guantanamo. I got behind him when he said we'd wind down the war in Afghanistan. I even believed him when he said he'd repeal DADT and DOMA and let us pursue our state by state strategy for marriage.

In the days after the election I was swept up in the emotion. The end of a dark period - perhaps one of the darkest in our history - and the beginning of a new era of Progressive ideals where the people would be put before corporations and profits. I was also thrilled to be living in the historic moment of our first African-American President. For the first time in my life, I shed tears of joy over an election. I was so filled with hope.

I give a speech during a protest for Marriage Equality.

Then during the ramp up for the inauguration trouble began to brew. Obama signaled he couldn't stand up to voices of intolerance and hatred when he invited a rabidly anti-gay minister to give his invocation. When the LGBT community grumbled we were slapped down by Obama and his political operatives. Those of us who were concerned before the election were shouted down by Gay, Inc. who assured us that Obama is a "chess player in a city of checker players" and we didn't understand his beautiful plan.

So, we waited. Nothing happened. No DADT repeal. He wouldn't even issue an executive order suspending the discharges. No, the Grand Master felt that he shouldn't get involved and let Congress deal with it... when they got around to it. "What about DOMA?" we asked. He answered by directing his Justice Department to defend DOMA in court under the pretext they "had to by tradition." Unfortunately, that defense included comparing our relationships to incest. "Oh, don't worry," we were told "it's part of his grand strategy whereby they say something so outrageous that the court will find the defense even ridiculous." The chess analogy rolled on.

When we kept asking we were told that this year his plate was too full to deal with something as silly as Civil Rights. We should wait till next year. But, next year there are mid-term elections so that probably won't work. Let's just hold off on all that contentious queer stuff till 2011. Oh, but maybe not because he's got an election to get ready for in 2012 and bringing up queer stuff might help the republicans. Oh, well one day we'll get around to it. Not sure when or if it'll be in our lifetime but maybe by the time we have Star Trek transporters in every home, we'll be able to all get married and the Federal Government will give its assent.

Meanwhile, my husband (without the paperwork) is without insurance despite working full time. Same old song you've heard a thousand times now. Make too much for Medicaid but can't get private insurance because he had cancer. Can't afford the "high risk pool" at a couple thousand a month in premiums so he does without. We looked to Obama to at least come through on that promise. Hell, 77% of the public agrees something has to be done.

So, he told us that we had to give up this idea of a single payer system where everyone could get coverage and no one would be killed for profit as happens now with private insurers. Instead we'd have to settle for the "Public Option" which would be like Medicare that everyone could buy into and would compete with private insurers. It would have much cheaper premiums so that working people could afford it. "OK," we said, "if we have to compromise so at least people can get to a doctor and not go bankrupt or get kicked out of their home or apartment, we'll compromise. We're decent people."

Then after being told to compromise we are told that the "Public Option" is a no go. The best we can hope for is a system where everyone is required to buy private insurance at the going rates and the only concession from insurers will be that they can't deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. In other words, we get an insurance industry gift basket that does nothing for the working poor or the middle class struggling to make ends meet.

The crowd at the Health Care Reform Rally in Tucson 9/2/09.

On Wednesday night I stood with a couple hundred people on a street corner in Tucson to advocate for choice B, the "Public Option." Within hours, David Axelrod was telling us that notion was dead in the water. Today, the conventional wisdom is that the White House is seeing this as a chance to prove the President's mettle by staring down all these nasty liberals who elected him.

For whom is he grandstanding? Does he think that if he pisses off his liberal base that Pastor Steven Anderson is going to wake up the next morning all warm and fuzzy over Obama? Does he think the vast number of independents who agree that we need a Public Option (at the least) are going to shrug their shoulders and say "This guy has backbone!"?

We do know that Obama is preparing a major speech on Health Care Reform (sorry - Health Insurance Reform) for a Joint Session of Congress. We can only hope that the Grand Master has been using a feint to pull his GOP opponents off guard and will announce that he's going it alone and he's going for the Full Monty of Universal Coverage.

But, to be honest, I think what we'll hear is more of this bi-partisanship crap and our chance to at the very least begin real reform go up in smoke. Just like closing Guantanamo went up in smoke, ending the war in Iraq, winding down the war in Afghanistan, repealing DOMA, repealing DADT, and getting tough on the Banks.

After all, the side bets on this match have been laid and the Grand Master has bet with big pharma and the hospital cartels. That's a good sign this chess game has been thrown at the outset.

But, here's the part I don't think the Grand Master and his political lackeys figured. Liberals are getting pissed. What do we have to lose if he loses in 2012? LGBT people are not going to see a repeal of DADT or DOMA in this Presidency - if Gay, Inc. still holds onto that they are all fools. We are watching as Afghanistan is being ramped up more - just this week a call went out for 10,000 more troops for this quagmire. Guantanamo is still open for business. Domestic spying is still going on with the same people in charge. His first Supreme Court appointment, while historic and thrilling, is far from the Liberal voice that would help tip the court back into balance, and the banks are still doing the same thing they were doing and we're all paying the price.

Am I better off than I was a year ago? Nope. I'm in the same boat and I don't see this President or "Rahmbo" or "A-Rod" or any of the other cute names in D.C. the left blogosphere coins, doing a damn thing to change it. So, if this speech turns out like I think it will, Obama can kiss my support goodbye. I might not vote for a Republican in 2012, but I sure as hell won't be voting for him.

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