Thursday, May 08, 2014

Sean Eldridge's Fake, Pasted On Smile Doesn't Hide The Ugliness Of Identity Politics


Everyone in the photo above is proud gay and every one of them is a Democrat-- some, though, more proud of that than others. The first guy belongs at the top of the stairs. That's Madison, Wisconsin progressive Mark Pocan, a courageous brawler for working families and for equality under the law for all Americans. According to ProgressivePunch, he has the best lifetime crucial vote score of any Member of Congress. He's #1. Go Mark! I've talked to Mark's husband, Phillip, and he's very proud of what Mark has accomplished. He should be. So should every member of the LGBT community. Mark Takano (D-CA) is also in this lineup and he's another new congressional leader who goes beyond just voting well. Takano is another icon for gay men and women interested in government. Down the stairs is Tammy Baldwin, the senator from Wisconsin, an effective and progressive legislator and an inspiration for anyone who wants to reform Washington. But before the LGBT community gets all puffed up with pride about how wonderful their members are, right below Pocan is Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), one of the worst and least trustworthy Democrat in Congress, someone who has betrayed working families and votes with the Republicans very consistently-- though not on gay issues, of course. Sinema is good on gay issues and good on Choice. Today she was one of only 7 Democrats to vote with the GOP in favor of their shameful Benghazi witch hunt. She's abysmal on almost everything else, a waste of a Democratic seat-- the worst Democrat, by score, in the entire House, worse than notorious traitors like fellow Blue Dogs John Barrow (GA), Jim Matheson (UT), Henry Cuellar (TX), Pete Gallego (TX), and Mike McIntyre (NC). Down at the bottom (left) is Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY), one of the only Democrats in Congress as horrendous as Sinema. Pocan's crucial vote score-- again, the best in the House-- is 98.69. Sinema's is 31.72 and Maloney's is 32.03. Both of them are disgraces to the LGBT community.

That's an example of the failure of identity politics. If you assume Sinema or Maloney must be good because they're gay, you're not only wrong, you're on another planet. This week one of the most longstanding publication in the LGBT community, the Washington Blade looked at another gay Democrat running for Congress, Sean Eldridge, not through the lens of identity politics, but with clear-eyed political analysis. And they find him wanting-- as we have here at DWT. Blade editor Kevin Naff's piece, Gays Behaving Badly, is not going to sit well with gay political careerists who just want too see gays-- good, bad or indifferent-- reach positions of political power. They are every bit as toxic to the progressive movement as EMILY's List.
Eldridge embodies much of what is wrong with our modern political system, which prizes money over achievement. LGBT advocates should reconsider supporting Eldridge’s vanity campaign for Congress from New York’s 19th congressional district.

Or is it the 18th district? It’s hard to keep track of where Eldridge and his wealthy husband-- who won the lottery by ending up Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate as he was creating Facebook-- are buying their latest multi-million-dollar home.

We should abandon the term “carpetbagging” and call it “Eldridgeing” because he gives new meaning to the cynical practice of picking up and moving to a new district to buy a seat in Congress.

Eldridge is taking on incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican who opposes marriage equality but is a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Of course, no one would mistake Gibson for a gay rights advocate-- he earned a zero on HRC’s congressional scorecard-- but gay voters and donors should resist lining up behind an alternative just because he’s gay and rich. Surely there’s a viable, experienced Democrat living in the district. We won’t know because anyone contemplating a run was scared off by the Hughes war chest.

In sharp contrast to most newbie politicians, Eldridge shuns the media. He has refused multiple Blade interview requests. Politico last month published a profile of Eldridge and noted that he not only refused its interview requests, but locked the campaign headquarters door when a reporter showed up knocking. [Yes, another wretched Steve Israel "mystery meat" candidate, whip is destined to lose in November.]

Despite Eldridge’s arrogant approach to campaigning, LGBT voices are embracing him.

“They are young, rich, smart and good-looking. It’s a pretty powerful combination,” Richard Socarides told the New York Times in a predictable display of sycophantic ass kissing.

There’s no disputing they are rich. Hughes’ net worth has been reported to be between $600-700 million. The money came from his connection to Facebook’s Zuckerberg. As the New York Times put it, “For Mr. Hughes, a history and literature student with no programming skills, it later seemed to outsiders a lucky break.”

The couple bought an estate in Garrison, N.Y. along with 80 acres in 2011 for $5 million, the Times noted, quoting Eldridge as saying that’s where they “put down roots.” But just two years later, when the congressional seat in that area appeared out of reach for Eldridge, they bought a new, $2 million spread just north in the 19th congressional district.

Eldridge is just 27 but has a “deep commitment” to public service, according to his bio on Victory Fund’s website. It continues, “He helped lead the successful campaign for marriage equality in New York State in 2011.” That’s almost as ridiculous and brazen as author Jo Becker comparing HRC’s Chad Griffin to Rosa Parks in her new book Forcing the Spring… As gays find increasing acceptance and move openly into the halls of power, we mustn’t forget our own history, as HRC bet wrongly we would in the case of Becker’s book. That history has always been about a shared responsibility for helping each other overcome discrimination and hate. We all stand on the shoulders of a generation of gay men who died and the LGBT survivors who took care of them.
No one knows what the hell any of Steve Israel's grotesque "mystery meat" candidates-- including young Sean-- stand for or how they would behave in Congress… and that's the way it's supposed to be. Will Eldridge turn out to be another Mark Pocan or, more likely, another Sean Patrick Maloney (to whom he and Hughes have generously donated)? No way to know. So why vote for him? Better than a Republican? That's about it. Is that enough? I doubt it.

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At 12:23 PM, Blogger lyonspe said...

I find this post both idiotic and insulting. So as a gay men and woman are supposed to be on the same side of every issue - be it related to social to economic to national security issues or they are traitors and a waste of LGBT seat? These public servants actually represent constituents - some in more conservative districts. I am all for calling out LGBT politicians that don't support LGBT rights, but I would hope beyond that we would welcome diversity of opinion.

In terms of qualifications, Eldridge was one of the leaders of Freedom to Marry which was pretty successful in obtain bi-partisan support for marriage equality in New York. While I applaud his opponent's service in the armed forces, I question how that service qualified him for a role in congress. Frankly, there are few jobs in the country that develop a skill set that translates well into a role of a congressman. I think Eldridge's background dovetails better than most.


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