An activist friend and I were talking yesterday, and he relayed to me a conversation he had had with a campaign staffer. The staffer said to him, “This is the most important election, ever! Do you realize what’s at stake?” My friend is who both pretty bright, and pretty tuned into politics fully understands what is at stake, but we both got a chuckle out of the characterization, that this is the most important election ever. EVER!  It seems we hear this every election. 2008 was definitely portrayed as the most important election, ever!  And earlier elections to be sure. I think we can already be making a case that 2012, and 2014 will be crucially important. So, what’s up with the crazy rhetoric?

On the one hand, this is what’s wrong with the Democratic Party (one of the things that’s wrong). Our elected officials have spent the last 18 months making choices about what fights to fight (few apparently) and which to give up on (most), while doing a lousy job controlling the message and educating their constituents about what is going on. And then with about a month to go, they decide to step it up and talk about how important this election is. A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece where I pointed out that the LGBT activist leaders have created false expectations, and the average person, who we need to be engaged in the political and legislative process hasn’t been educated so that they are expecting quick results. Equality in 5 minutes, please! I stand by that post, but our elected Democrats are also guilty. By framing the election as “the most important ever,” they are the ones setting the stage for incorrect expectations. It isn’t the election that is so important, it is what comes after the election- what the elected can or will do that is going to make all of the difference. Sure, getting elected is the first step, but it isn’t the only step.

On the other hand, this is the most important election ever! We have just regained control of our government after eight plus years of deterioration. After the Presidency changes parties, in the next election, there are always House and Senate shifts towards the party out-of-power, so there is some momentum for the Republicans, and f course, they are going to use it, and everything else they can muster to try and regain power. For anyone who believes in the vision the Obama put out there in 2008, we must fight with everything we have to keep as much power and control as we can, or we wil continue to see watered down, poor policies come out of Washington.

The House has done a much better job passing decent legislation over the past 18 months, and if we look at it, bill by bill, or issue by issue, it is clear that the Senate is the problem chamber, and the place where progressive and liberal dreams for change are being trampled. If we can hold onto control of the Senate, we can turn that around, by changing the filibuster. If we can get back to a simple majority ruling, we can actually see government begin to work again! We either need to eliminate the filibuster entirely, or make it easier to break. Or at the very least, force politicians to actually filibuster! We need to see a change to the Senate rules so that one Senator can not put holds on anything just to stop government. And the start of the new session, is a time when Democrats, if they have the majority, can change these rules. So, holding the Senate is critical. In that way, this is the most important election ever! It will be 4- 8 years before we are in a position to really govern again, if we lose the chance now. Can we wait that long for real progressive changes? I don’t think so.

Given that I am in Pennsylvania, there are House races that are also critically important. For example, Patrick Murphy, has been a real leader in the call to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). and he is facing a tough fight. For every time I heard a gay or lesbian person complain about the lack of progress, I wish I had a vote for Murphy! He would win by a landslide. So if progressives, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks want to both thank the hard workers and see further change, we must turn out and support those who have worked so hard for our issues. This is true for other states and other Representatives.

And I would be amiss, if I didn’t mention how critically important the Pennsylvania Governor’s race is this year. In my opinion, it is the most important race facing Pennsylvania voters. Tom Corbett is set to run the state in ways that benefit special interests like the Gas Drilling Industry, and wipe away protections and policies that help progressives across the state. He calls the unemployed lazy; he flip-flops on every major issue; it isn’t clear if he understands the issues; and he is set to turn back LGBT rights by pushing for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. If Democrats turn out and vote for the Democrat, he can win. If Democrats don’t turn out, he will lose, and radical Republicans will also take control of the State House. We will be looking at a very dreary and damaging 8 years for progressive issues, if Tom Corbett is elected.

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