Despite evidence to the contrary, the Republican Party in recent decades has continued to live off the notion that they are the better party on the economy, jobs and related topics. Anyone paying attention to the economic catastrophes and their causes knows that we have done far worse under Republicans than under Democrats. Every few years the Republicans seem to step back and let the Democrats fix their mess and then successfully position the Democrats as the spendthrifts.
While Democrats may not have all the answers, and while they certainly have many of the same conflicts of interest when it comes to regulating industries that donate heavily to their campaigns, the Republican Party has no moral standing when it comes to fiscal issues.
If you are an LGBT person voting for Romney based on his sound economic plans, this is a fallacy in search of a nonexistent savior. The truth is that it's going to take a lot of very smart economic advisors, and some cross-party cooperation, to make true change. And given how beholden Romney will be to his "cut taxes on the 1 percent" base, there won't be compromise coming from him.
Let's set aside red-herring issues that are being used to distract from the true differences between the two main presidential tickets this election. Romney has morphed so many times in this election that whiplash set in long ago, even in the primaries. If someone is voting for Romney based on his policies, they are lying to themselves as much as Romney is lying to the public. He makes a comment one day and takes it back the next, sometimes within hours. As soon as his handlers (donors) text him, he snaps back in line.
What we can base our vote on is someone's actions, and as an LGBT American, I have watched Obama become the most pro-LGBT president in our nation's history, at the same time stopping one war and winding down another, ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden, passing health care reform, and coping with an oil spill, an economy in collapse and a Congress that is filled with obstructionists who put their party (and Grover Norquist) first.
Obama has certainly made mistakes (Guantanamo, Bradley Manning, drones, etc.), and has not yet followed through on some of his 2008 promises. No one occupying the White House will match all our ideals.
But make no mistake: There has never been a president who has been as supportive of LGBT issues. And LGBT issues are not just about our community; these administrative and legislative changes do have a much wider impact on society. And mainstream issues also benefit LGBTs (for example, health care reform helps people with HIV/AIDS and other preexisting conditions).
Focusing just on the larger LGBT issues, Obama has done more for this community than every previous president combined. Some say that's because our community is stronger now, but that is naïve. If John McCain had been elected, "don't ask, don't tell" would still be in place, there would be no federal hate crimes legislation, McCain would still be defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, his Supreme Court picks would have been far different, and he would not have made nearly as many openly LGBT appointments.
Obama's list of changes is impressive and too long to present here. When I wrote my book Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage in 2010, he had already made significant progress on the LGBT agenda. In 2012 there are certainly more things we want (especially the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), but I don't see how any LGBT person, or our allies, could say that Obama does not deserve our support based on his legislative, administrative and even personal progress on LGBT issues. It was great that he came out for marriage equality this year (moving back to his 1996 position he stated to my newspaper), but even prior to that, Obama's first term saw monumental accomplishments for LGBT rights.
LGBT issues are American issues, but we know that they are not the only issues that matter. However, they can be a litmus test for politicians who claim to be for equality but hesitate or step back when it comes to the more difficult decisions. Romney has backed off any remnant of his minimally moderate past. He will have no backbone to stand up to the right wing of his party once elected, as he has proven time and again during the campaign.
So those who are leaning Romney, and those who are still undecided, ask yourself who you want to direct the next four years of your life. Someone who is beholden to Karl Rove and his right-wing billionaires, someone who gets reprimanded in the Oval Office by its true owners if he strays from the party line? Or someone who has handled himself with an amazing consistency these past four years, someone who is calm and purposeful, moving our arc of justice forward, not backward? Someone who is human and fallible -- but consistent, practical and reliable?
While my publication, Windy City Times, does not endorse in any elections (we leave that up to our readers to decide), I personally support Barack Obama for president of the United States. I have studied him since 1996, and I have watched him do what he says, even when the tasks are very hard (eliminating DADT was a herculean effort). He has more to do, and he deserves more time to complete his agenda.
Four more years.
Tracy Baim is co-founder and publisher of Windy City Times. She is the author of Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage and the upcoming Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America.