March 9, 2017 at 11:09 am EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Turning protests into Democratic votes
protest Trump, gay news, Washington Blade, Democratic votes

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We must avoid the ‘Alternate Universe’ becoming the norm at all costs. The bar is set too low when a formerly respected TV commentator, Van Jones, listens to the pablum President Trump presented to Congress and says, “He became president of the United States in that moment. Period.” Jones was not even referring to anything of substance Trump said, as there was nothing, but rather to the “recognition Trump gave to Carryn Owens, the widow of the Navy SEAL who was killed in the Yemen raid ordered by Trump.”

Van Jones and all the other commentators trying to figure out Trump need to start looking at facts and stop trying to interpret Trump when he changes the topic of the day with a flurry of tweets and unproven accusations. He may be sly as a fox and intentionally doing this, or simply unhinged from reality, but his tweets on millions of illegal voters to his most recent ones accusing President Obama of wiretapping him without any proof, just get in the way of focusing on the policies and programs he and the dangerous people around him are proposing and the lies the members of his administration are asking the American people to believe.

We need to focus on Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller and other alt-right advisers who are influencing him. Now, three weeks after the court tossed out his first immigration ban as unconstitutional, he issued a new one obviously to keep a campaign promise but having no impact on national security. His administration hasn’t introduced any real legislation to keep the promises he made in the election, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act, building a wall on our southern border, or to move forward on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure or actually creating new jobs.

This week, two more people who were part of the Trump campaign including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, admitted lying about having meetings with Russian officials. Trump’s promise to protect the LGBT community was broken when his administration withdrew guidance favorable to the transgender community, which has now resulted in the Supreme Court saying it won’t rule on the case and remanded it to the appeals court. He has withdrawn regulations to protect the purity of the nation’s water and is proposing opening our national parks to big oil drilling.

The White House can’t figure out how to craft a new bill to replace the Affordable Care Act so will let Congress introduce a bill similar to the disaster crafted by Tom Price before he became Secretary of Health and Human Services. Trump is revealing a budget even Republicans say is dead on arrival. It will eviscerate many programs enjoyed by constituents of Republican members of Congress, whose votes they need to get reelected. Surely self-preservation will rear its head and not many Republican members of Congress will fall on their sword for the president.

Democrats must now determine how to turn the growing and continuing demonstrations against this president’s policies, including those demonstrations at town hall meetings of Republican members of Congress who are not afraid to hold them, into votes. There will be more national marches, including the March for Science and Research on April 22nd and the March for Equality, Unity and Pride spearheaded by the LGBTQIA community on June 11. The LGBTQIA march is quickly gaining momentum and spawning sister marches across the nation and around the world. These millions of people hitting the streets clearly didn’t all come out to vote in November 2016 or we wouldn’t have to demonstrate now.

The Democratic Party has work to do to convince even a portion of them that voting for the Democratic candidate in their home state and district is crucial; even if the Democratic candidate isn’t what they consider their perfect candidate. Those votes are critical to taking back Congress and moving a progressive agenda.

It is imperative that agenda has a focus on working people; delivering more and higher paying jobs; decent working conditions; retirement benefits; and family-friendly workplaces. These are the goals Democrats enunciated in the platform passed at last year’s convention. We must convince voters we will fight for our principles, which include equal rights for women, African Americans, other minorities, immigrants and the LGBT community. They need to know we truly believe in both equity and equality, leaving no one behind.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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