Sen. Bernie Sanders has done the country a great service by shining a bright (if shrill) light on the entrenched problem of income inequality but his message failed to produce the revolution he sought and now it’s time for practicality to prevail.
While the Republicans have burned through 16 losing candidates and turned their party over to a racist, sexist bully with zero experience in elected office, the Democrats are still slugging it out — in May. This should be a time for Hillary Clinton’s victory lap, not a time for enduring more misguided attacks on her fitness for office from fellow Democrats.
Sanders deserves credit for running an effective campaign that caught the imagination of a younger generation tired of the status quo. His presence in the primaries has forced Clinton to up her game and sharpen her economic message. We owe him a big “thank you” for that.
But he has been mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination with pledged delegates. There simply is no credible path to victory. And the specter of what comes next should scare all voters into realizing the responsible thing for Sanders to do is to withdraw, endorse Clinton and start planning a national tour of college campuses to rally young voters to her side.
With Trump waiting in the wings, there is too much at stake to risk further damaging Clinton in the eyes of Sanders’s supporters, 25 percent of whom in a recent poll foolishly and naively said they would not vote for Clinton. Sanders must disabuse his followers of such self-destructive nonsense. Ralph Nader’s causes didn’t fare so well under George W. Bush. We mustn’t repeat the mistakes of third-party folly or pouty stay-at-home stubbornness.
The notion that Clinton is unqualified for the presidency, as Sanders has intimated, is absurd; Trump’s claims that she’d be soft on terrorism is at odds with her sometimes hawkish record.
On LGBT rights, Clinton was late to the marriage party but she has arrived — and there’s no turning back now. The time has come to forgive the many Democratic Party leaders who paid lip service to our issues for so long and move forward in this radically changed political environment in which anything but full-throated support for LGBT rights will not fly for any Democrat seeking the presidency. Clinton has pledged her full support for a range of LGBT causes. She even hired a gay campaign manager. Our progress is not only safe in her hands, it will continue.
Clinton has pledged to support the Equality Act, to allow transgender people to serve openly in the U.S. military and to end widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors. In addition, she has said she would expand access to HIV prevention and treatment; confront disproportionate violence facing transgender people, especially trans women of color; and continue her work as former secretary of state on international LGBT rights. She has consistently raised LGBT issues during the primary season, making them a centerpiece of her campaign.
At risk of playing the “woman’s card,” we should also seize this historic opportunity to elect the nation’s first female president. I want my 11 nieces and nephews to grow up in a country where electing an African American or female president is no big deal. We’re halfway there.
Perhaps most importantly, we can trust her judgment in making at least one — and possibly multiple — Supreme Court picks. With Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat vacant amid unprecedented, reckless GOP obstructionism, and three more justices aged 77 or older, it is imperative that Trump not be allowed to put his stamp of ignorance and bigotry on the high court.
We’ve made stunning progress thanks to President Obama, but make no mistake that Trump can and would turn back the clock on our equality in myriad ways. First, Trump has pledged to immediately revoke President Obama’s executive orders, which would certainly include the order that bars discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors. That order covers about 20 percent of the entire American workforce and our advocates fought hard to get it implemented. The thrice-married Trump has also promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Obergefell ruling and end marriage equality.
He has endorsed the First Amendment Defense Act, a federal version of the so-called “religious freedom” bills that have emerged in North Carolina and elsewhere that would legalize discrimination against LGBT Americans from coast to coast.
The LGBT community cannot risk a Trump presidency.
Hillary Clinton has promised to continue President Obama’s fierce advocacy on LGBT issues. And she’s backed up those words with specific, detailed policy proposals. Further, she has a record now of advocating for LGBT people around the world as secretary of state. The Blade has interviewed scores of overseas activists and they routinely cite her Geneva speech in which she famously said, “gay rights are human rights” as a game changer. Make no mistake that her public stand in defense of gay rights abroad has saved lives.
The time has come to move past divisive fights of the past and rally around an ally who has pledged to put the full weight of her administration and bully pulpit into maintaining and advancing LGBT equality. Hillary Clinton is that ally and has earned LGBT support in November.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.