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As the Nashville Scene reported just a few weeks ago, Congressman Jim Cooper’s record on gay rights has been spotty, at best.  His recent failure to sign congressional Democrats’ anti-DOMA amicus brief in support of marriage equality was extremely disappointing to many of us here in Nashville, but that obviously paled in comparison to the fact that Congressman Cooper had previously voted for a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage— twice.  Of particular note, those two votes took place as recently as 2006 and 2004.  Incredibly, however – immediately after announcing his new position for “civil” marriage equality a couple of weeks ago – Cooper also had the audacity to pretend that he “couldn’t immediately recall” his prior votes to weave discrimination against gay couples into our constitutional fabric.  

Jim Cooper has done a great many things over the past few years to draw the ire of his overwhelmingly Democratic constituency, but I don't ever recall him being so flatly dishonest.  Hypocritically voting against Sandy aid because of a misguided obsession with deficit reduction, supporting Colin Powell for Speaker over Nancy Pelosi (?), and being uniquely unhelpful to President Obama (and President Clinton, years before that) during the health care reform effort— those things can at least theoretically be explained by his “blue dog” philosophy, which quite thankfully is a dying breed.  For someone who purports to be so principled, though, Cooper’s recent attempt to hide from his record on gay rights – rather than owning up to that record and apologizing for it – borders on the inexcusable.  Sadly, however, based on the complete lack of outrage from our local media in response to his comments, it also appears as though he’s going to come away from this effort to avoid accountability unscathed.    

Let me be clear in saying that I firmly believe that Democrats need to be a “big tent” party in order to thrive, especially down here in Tennessee.  If we were to shun everyone who failed to take a principled stand on issues like gun control, for example, Nashville would suddenly find itself without a Democratic Mayor, and Karl Dean is easily among the most popular Democrats in the entire state.  I do wonder, though, what it takes for someone to lose the privilege of being able to run with a ‘D’ next to his or her name on the ballot.  Professing conservatism on fiscal issues is one thing; but our commitment to promoting social justice and social equality is fundamentally what makes Democrats Democrats, and I am far from certain that Jim Cooper is on board.  Moreover, beyond the fact that he’s now attempting to hide from his record on gay rights, why exactly did it take Cooper so long to come around to the right side of history?  We may never know the answer to that question, but as one reader recently suggested in the Scene’s comment section: “[Perhaps] Cooper just had to wait until the other Republicans did it first.”

Originally posted to BlueDotDemocrat on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks and State & Local ACTION Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Don't Know The Polotics Of Nashville (0+ / 0-)

    But my parents have a second house there. Spend about 20% of their time there. Again I an next an expert on the area nor who is elected, but I kind of like the place a ton when I visit.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 01:18:01 PM PDT

  •  Cooper's mere fiscal conservatism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDotDemocrat, ladybug53, Hamtree

    in the current economic and political climate amounts to significant social conservatism, as well-- in that his focus on deficit reduction and pro-corporate agendas hurts seniors, the middle class, the jobless, and the poor.

    Yikes. Looking forward to voting against him in 2014, if local Dems can field a decent primary challenger.

    What laws can the senators make now? Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating. C.P. Cavafy

    by anonymous volanakis on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 01:22:51 PM PDT

  •  "civil marriage" is so last year, no one tries (0+ / 0-)

    that anymore

  •  I thought what makes us Democrats is our (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDotDemocrat, MichaelNY

    commitment to economic justice (e.g. non-conservatism on economic issues)?

    20, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
    politicohen.com
    Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
    UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.4.12, -4.92

    by jncca on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:31:45 PM PDT

    •  I tend to disagree, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, paradise50

      though I'll concede that the two are very difficult to separate, and may be two sides of the same coin.  I think there's a widespread belief among most Democrats that economic injustice itself is caused by social inequality, which is why the Party's commitment to equal treatment of women, minorities, immigrants, and every other demographic is so profound.  If we lived in a society without discrimination where everyone really did enjoy equal opportunity in areas like hiring and education, we simply wouldn't have the profound degree of income inequality that we have today.  I also think that Democrats as a whole have widely disparate views regarding what economic justice actually looks like, while you'd have to look pretty hard to find a Democrat who doesn't believe that discrimination and racism are huge problems.  This is obviously an extremely important conversation, though, and I appreciate the comment.  

      •  I disagree with your point of view on this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Englishlefty

        The inequality among sexes, races, etc. is a product of the ruling class's divide and conquer strategy, which helps them maintain their class dominance. It's very possible to be against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc., and still be in favor of tremendous inequality between rich and poor. The fact that there is no-one really equivalent to Barry Goldwater in the Republican Party today does not change that - and if you don't like Goldwater as an example because in the 1960s, he opposed civil rights laws relating to private actions by businesses, take Everett Dirksen, who was both a fiscally conservative Republican and a key and indispensable sponsor of civil rights legislation. He didn't sponsor that legislation to try to eliminate inequality between the rich and the poor, but because he opposed discrimination based on race. I can also give an analogy from Malaysia, where official policy for a long time was that there should be millionaires and poor people among the Malays and Chinese (they rarely talked about Indians, who are poorer than the other two "races") in proportion to their percentage of the population, whereas the socialist opposition party, the Democratic Action Party, argued for a better distribution of income among the entire population.

        My feeling about Cooper is that he is a Democrat and should not be thrown out of the party, but he is a bad Democrat and definitely not the most liberal one who could win in his district. I'd like to see him get defeated in a primary by someone who doesn't vote against disaster relief for the Northeast, wholehearted supports universal health care, etc.

        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

        by MichaelNY on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 04:27:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  ...very nice comment... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY
        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences.

        by paradise50 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 07:00:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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