September 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm PST | by Karen Ocamb
Importance of the LGBT vote in California

The upcoming election is a referendum on President Trump, whose supporters are working overtime to roll back recent LGBT advances. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

“There is a war on truth,” Washington Post’s iconic reporter Bob Woodward told out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Sept. 11, discussing his new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” This is not hyperbole. The Post has been fact-checking President Donald Trump and, as of Sept. 3, “Trump has made 4,713 false or misleading claims” in 592 days in office.

The exchange between Maddow and the cautious, meticulous Watergate reporter sounding the “Wake Up People!” alarm gets to the heart of why the midterm elections are a critical necessity as a check on the liar with his finger on the nuclear button.

“I feel like as a citizen, I am less worried about a president who is wrong than I am worried about a president who is sort of wrong in the head,” says Maddow. “And I don’t mean to say that in a snarky way. The president being ignorant about certain things or having bad policy ideas or being unable to learn things quickly is worrying. That you would want somebody more capable in the…but there are suggestions that it’s worse than that. At one point you say the president is emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable. I worry in particular about the emotionally overwrought part of it. Do you mean by that he is out of control?”

“No,” says Woodward. Trump is dangerously and willfully ignorant, choosing his own beliefs despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. “He closes his mind to the information,” adamantly sticking to ideas he ingested 30 years ago. Even if you are “the most ardent Trump supporter, that has got to give you pause that the White House and the government are being managed this way.”

In addition to his bottomless narcissism, Trump lacks the simple ability to even comprehend empathy or compassion. Trump started off the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with an exuberant tweet: “17 years since September 11!” Deplaning from Air Force One for the memorial service for Flight 93 victims in Shanksville, Pa.—including gay hero Mark Bingham—Trump pumped his fists greeting supporters at the airport.

Trump “has no capacity for the duties of the office when it comes to expressions of dignity, empathy, and filling the chair that he is a temporary custodian of, that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln once sat in,” former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt told the Washington Post.

The mourning LGBT community got a sense of this in 2016 when then-candidate Trump turned the mass shooting at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando into a campaign moment. “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump tweeted. “I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

The 2018 midterm elections this November are a referendum on Trump and his Republican Party, which now controls both chambers of Congress and is working on owning the judiciary. With Trump-whisperer Mike Pence and chief adviser Tony Perkins in the wings,a ReligiousRight-driven autocracy is not beyond the realm of possibility if the Democrats don’t at least flip the House.

California is on the frontlines of the resistance movement, from Gov. Jerry Brown gathering international leaders to work against climate change to pushback against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ creating internment camps for the burgeoning number of undocumented immigrants under forced deportation—including LGBT refugees from violence seeking asylum. Sessions has increased by 50% the number of immigration judges to speed up the process while failing to prosecute people who lie to illegally buy guns, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Sept. 10. Last March, Sessions announced with much fanfare that the Justice Department would prioritize prosecutions of people who lie on their background check forms about criminal records or having a mental illness diagnosis—apparently an empty publicity countermeasure to the Parkland students organizing student walkouts across the country to call for gun restrictions.

Democrats working to take back the House are counting on winning vulnerable Republican congressional seats in California’s Orange County. Though the Republican Party now has few registered voters than No Party Preference, Orange County is still heavily conservative, though attitudes and demographics are changing. These will be battles until the last vote is cast.

Specifically: in CD 25, bisexual Katie Hill is now “Lean Democrat” against anti-gay
Republican Rep. Steve Knight; CD 39 is an open seat with Democrat Gil Cisneros in a serious fight with Young Kim; CD 45 is woman-vs-woman with consumer lawyer Katie Porter taking on Trump-supporter Rep. Mimi Walters; CD 48 is a knock-down contest between Russia-loving Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and LGBT-heralded Harley Rouda; in CD 49, the race for retiring Darrell Issa’s seat is between favored Democrat Mike Levin and Republican Diane Harkey; and CD 50 has become a spotlight race between indicted anti-LGBT Rep. Duncan Hunter is facing former Obama White House fellow, Ammar Campa-Naijar.

While the congressional races are the focus, other races are also important. Lt. Gavin Newsom is running for governor against Trump-supporting John Cox. State Sen. Ricardo Lara is running for California Insurance Commissioner—which would make him the first openly gay person elected statewide. And while out LA County Assessor Jeff Prang’s re-election bid seems solid—no candidate’s race is safe from anti-LGBT and other sheer crap in the Trumpian age of hostility.

Woodward’s Wake Up call must be heeded. LGBT citizens must eschew apathy and vote out of the necessity to restore American values and save the progression to full equality.

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