If you haven’t heard about the DREAM Act yet I wouldn’t be surprised. The media has largely been focused on the train wreck that is Christine O’Donnell’s campaign. But the mainstream media is missing out on one of the most suspenseful political dramas I’ve ever witnessed. No one knows if we have the votes to beat the filibuster in the Senate, today. If we don’t beat it, the National Defense Authorization Act will likely have to wait until after the elections. At that point, all bets are off.
One of the most compelling elements of this political drama has been the interaction between The LGBT movement and the migrant youth movement. What to an outsider might be perceived as two unrelated constituencies, perhaps even hostile to each other, have been working long before this moment to build unity and solidarity. It is one thing to believe in the truth that we are all woven into a “single garment of destiny.” It is another to live that truth and act on it. The migrant youth movement and the LGBT movement having been living and acting on that truth, as we all should. My freedom is tied up with the freedom of everyone else in the universe, and tomorrow we have a chance to set close to a million people free.
Again, the media hasn’t been watching but everyone who matters everyone who will decide the future of this country is watching. The DREAM Act has been front-page news on major Spanish language newspapers all week, and featured heavily on Spanish language television. The U.S.’s largest and fastest growing minority, Latinos, is watching, today. Educators and students from around the country have organized for and come out in support of the DREAM Act. The next generation is watching, today. Facebook and twitter have blown up with mentions of the DREAM Act, and traffic on the sites covering the DREAM Act is through the roof. Business leaders, religious leaders, and military leaders have all come out strong in support of the DREAM Act. If the Senate fails to move the DREAM Act forward today, we will all be watching and we won’t just remember this November, but for the rest of our lives.
The next generation isn’t just watching whether the DREAM act will move forward, but whether the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) will move forward. Lady Gaga has galvanized youth for the repeal of DADT with her extensive twitter and facebook following in a way that probably hasn’t been seen seen Barack Obama was elected.
According to a poll commissioned by First Focus, 70% of the U.S. public supports the DREAM Act. Multiple polls show that a majority of the U.S. public supports the repeal of DADT. Republicans, for the most part, are floating arguments about procedure. They are saying that Democrats are playing politics with the National Defense Authorization Act. Republicans are playing politics, too, and have used the procedure of the filibuster to grind the Senate to a halt for two years. Playing politics is what politicians do. The public doesn’t care about politicians playing politics or what procedures are used as long as Congress does their job and gets things done. It’s time for Congress to get two things done that the majority of Americans support.
Republicans, especially, face an important choice, today. They can please their increasingly regional extremist base and relegate themselves to irrelevancy for a generation, or they can do the right thing and be competitive with the next generation of voters.
If we win, today, we will face an even steeper uphill battle, but we will all be watching. Failure has not entered into my mind. We will pass the DREAM Act and DADT will be repealed. It is no longer a question of if, but a question of when. The time is now and whomever stands in the way will regret it for a long time.