THE BLOG
12/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Word from California

The success of California Proposition 8, banning Gay marriage in the state should be a wake up call for a Democratic Party fairly and righteously hung over after the Obama victory celebration.

While Paul Krugman is correct to hail the "end of the Monster Years" of Right wing dominance over the national discourse, the Right did not crash and burn in this election.

The Republicans are however, on the defensive, and if the National Democratic Party has any sense they will spend the next year keeping the Right on the run. The best way to do that is to "flip the script" and take away their issues.

With the failure of so called free market economics -- or "Market fundamentalism" -- along with the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Republicans have only the "social issues" left in their quiver. Of these, Gay marriage is perhaps the most potent arrow of all.

Clearly, Democrats don't want to reenact Bill Clinton's incredible political blunder in making "Gays in the military" the first thing he addressed as President. But some time in the first year of the Obama Presidency, Democrats should introduce a National Domestic Partners Act, as well as strengthening and passing Barney Franks' landmark Employment non-Discrimination Act (HR3685).

In point of fact Comrade Joe Lieberman (aka "the people's man") has already introduced comprehensive Domestic Partners legislation for Federal employees (S2521) and it shouldn't be but so difficult to extend this same protection to everyone in the country, gay and straight.

While many Americans feel quite content in contesting the "Gay Agenda," far fewer consider themselves out and out bigots willing to deny other people basic Human Rights. Domestic Partnership and Gay Civil Rights are, on balance, political winners that the Democrats should pass and sign into law with all deliberate speed.

The other political no-brainer for Democrats in Congress -- while President Obama stands above politics of course -- are the creation of Financial Crimes and War Crimes tribunals.

The one weakness of candidate Obama all through the primary season was that he didn't connect with working class white or Hispanic voters. In the general election this problem was neutralized by the financial crisis, after which, all Obama had to do was talk like a Democrat to gain instant street credibility.

However already, the President-elect is running into new trouble on this front. The recent economic summit showed incredible -- and uncharacteristic -- political tone deafness on the part of the Obama people. The absence of Labor -- or even Labor economists -- at the summit, signaled the continued hegemony of the failed financial elites over economic decision making in the new administration.

While these elite economists will, no doubt, propose a massive stimulus plan as an ameliorative for the coming economic "nuclear winter," the negative symbolism of Labor's absence from the summit is important.

The pain of the recession is likely to erode good feeling for Obama among the people who will be hit the hardest, and they are the Democratic political base. It will therefore be important for the Democrats in Congress to establish who is responsible for the collapse of the financial system and to hold those parties accountable.

If poor and working class Americans are going to suffer through this economic collapse, then the perpetrators of the disaster -- and especially those who directly profited from it -- should be made to suffer more. And while the elite economists will no doubt mutter about politicians behaving as if this were a "banana republic," establishing responsibility for crimes against society is the way politics is supposed to work in a democracy.

Similarly, when War Crimes have been committed by the previous administration, this is not a time to let bygones be bygones.

These were not, are not, victimless crimes. Hundreds of thousands have died, been maimed or had their lives destroyed as a result of the lies that got us into Iraq. It doesn't seem much to ask that the actual liars should have to bear, at the very least, the legal responsibility for their actions.

And then of course, there was the torture: not isolated instances of torture, but a systematic policy of torture set at the highest levels of our government. In order for America to regain at least a measure of her standing in the world, these crimes against humanity have to be addressed.

The Word from California is... to begin with, Justice.