Thursday, January 1, 2009

What Does Obama Know that We Don't?

Since I've been mulling over this whole Rick Warren thing (the evangelical minister chosen by Obama to give the invocation at his inauguration), I thought I'd spit out a few thoughts that have popped up for me.

My first, gut reaction is feeling hurt that somehow Obama has "betrayed" me. I haven't been this enthusiastic as a supporter for a Presidential candidate in a long time. I donated multiple times to Obama's campaign. Brad and I sponsored a voter registration table by the Democratic Party at Rainbow Skate and had at least a few people take advantage of the opportunity and register. I had his sticker on my car months before the primary was over and taped large yard signs in our windows (since we don't have a yard). I even read "The Audacity of Hope" to try to get to know him before I made any rash decisions politically.

I seriously doubt that Obama would have picked an overt racist or antisemite to give the opening prayer, so picking an open homophobe, who worked to promote Prop 8, seems questionable at best. Actually, I wonder if maybe the selection of an overtly racist evangelical (and they do still exist mind you) minister might have made a case that Obama is truly in it for unity.

On the other hand, perhaps Obama is taking a different path than I might have taken. Maybe in order to change the completely dichotomous and oppositional atmosphere of Washington, it means taking risks to open the tent to people who have really different voices, even if they aren't where they are supposed to be on every issue.

Maybe it's not easy to get an evangelical to accept a role at a supposedly "liberal" President-elect's inauguration.

To Rick Warren's "credit", he supposedly is slightly more progressive on the environment and addressing poverty than other right wing leaders. He did invite Obama to debate McCain in front of his very biased church audience.

Is Rick Warren a "crack" in the stone ceiling between progressives and right wing conservatives?

By cultivating a relationship with Warren, does Barack have a chance to bring him along on other progressive issues? Does he sense an opportunity to change the relationship with fundies so that they become more willing to stop the hatred?

I am concerned that Obama has not appointed one single openly gay person to any position of power or meaning thus far in his Cabinet or advising staff. It doesn't mean that there aren't closeted ones of course, or that he plans substantial appointments later. It also might be the case that for the foreseeable future, there may be no qualified openly gay people with the level of specific expertise that he needs right now.

Hard to know what Obama's intentions are until we see a tangible move. My hope is that he moves this year to eliminate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military, something he can do without much effort or fanfare as he tackles the economic problems, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, etc.

We'll just have to wait and see what Obama's true intention is for tackling the injustices towards the LGBTQ world out there.

I think I'll do a second post on Rick Warren himself later today. Stay tuned.

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