As the Pelosi Democrats prepare to yield power in the House to the Boehner Republicans, I wonder whether in the various meeting rooms of the gay groups in our nation’s capital, they are developing strategies to reach out to people whose language many of the groups’ leaders are loath to understand: Republicans.
I wonder as well what kind of meetings these groups had two years ago, as Democrats cemented their control of Congress and were about to take control of the executive branch. Did they just exult in the electoral successes of their preferred political party, believing that because the then-incoming majority was filled with well-meaning liberals who loved the gays that they were sure to act swiftly on their policy priorities? Or did they develop a strategy to ensure that the Democrats kept their promises on a whole range of issues from repeal of DADT and DOMA to passage of ENDA as well as legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions.
It would seem that the smart strategy would have been to prioritize those issues so as to work on them one at a time, starting with the proverbial lowest hanging fruit, the most popular legislation. Then, with priorities in place, they would be better prepared to reach out to their allies on the Hill and in the Administration to develop a time-frame for each. Perhaps, they did develop such a strategy and from my perspective here on the West Coast, I was not privy to it.
But, from the various releases I received from these groups — not to mention the knowledge I gained reading their web-sites — it seemed they had adopted a scattershot approach, reminding us of the imperative of each of these issues instead of choosing to prioritize these issues and push them one at a time. Perhaps, had they concentrated early on on repealing DADT (a proposition which enjoys popular support, even among conservatives), we would not be hoping that Senate Democrats could pass something in the lame-duck session of Congress that the failed to move during the heyday of their power.
That said, we can’t change the past. If these groups didn’t develop a strategy for action, their leaders should step down to make way for those better equipped at developing a plan for action, individuals not just with an understanding of the tactics necessary to move legislation, but men and women who are also able to make the case for their agenda in terms Republicans as well as Democrats can understand.