Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT and The Dream Act

Am I the only one who can't work up a ton of joy over repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Obviously, it's a great thing.  But I am so deeply frustrated that it took two years of a large Democratic majority to overturn such an incredibly stupid law. It's an important step in the history of American civil rights. Given how rarely these benchmarks happen, I should celebrate.

But my joy is severely tempered by the failure of the Dream Act to get 60 votes in the Senate. Although under any sane system, it passed by a decent majority, it couldn't achieve the supermajority numbers to pass under the laws that only exist when Democrats control the Senate. This was a basic piece of civil rights legislation that would assist millions of young Latinos. It may be that this kind of legislation motivates Latinos to the polls in 2012 to support politicians who will help them, but given the disappointments after they did so in 2008, I don't know. Moreover, the fact that Democrats would vote against the Dream Act is disgusting. Kos lays into Jon Tester for doing so; frankly, Tester has been incredibly disappointing given the role the Netroots played in getting him elected. I guess he feels he can't get reelected in Montana in 2012 if he supports brown people, but as so many have pointed out, Democrats pretending to be Republicans don't get reelected anyway.

Anyway, under any decent system, with a Majority Leader who knew how to rally his votes and a president who understood how partisanship worked, DADT would have been gone around February 2009 and immigration legislation far surpassing the Dream Act would have passed as well. Some claim that given the supermajority requirements, Republican intransigence, and the fear of Blue Dogs to support their own party, there's really nothing Reid and Obama could do. Me, I tend to believe in the power of strong leadership with some serious sticks and carrots to get senators to do what they need to do. After all, it's not as if that hadn't worked throughout the nation's history until the very recent past or anything.

So while I'm glad DADT is dead, my thoughts are that it's about damn time and a massive disappointment that it took this long to make it happen. Meanwhile, white America continues to support the white supremacist policies of the current Republican party, dooming equal rights for the children of migrant workers.