Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, June 27, 2015 2:02 pm

Depending how your dream goes


(I don’t know who this artist is; if someone knows, please advise and I’ll be happy to give credit. Cartoon by Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant, but was Photoshopped; the original included only the first three panels.)

“This has been the best week for all Americans of good will since Richard Milhous Nixon fled the presidency.”

This post started out to be a lot of gloating about how badly so many different people of ill will have taken it in the teeth this week. I was going to write a lot about how the moral arc of karma is long but this week it bent toward a righteous, multifaceted ass-kicking. I was going to write about laughing as the people on the wrong end of these decisions cried their bitter, bitter tears of frustration and rage, and how I intended to fill goblets and flagons with those tears and how the whole damn house was going to enjoy several rounds on them and so on. And I particularly intended to review Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissents in two Supreme Court cases so that you could enjoy the spectacle of a right-wing hack’s head exploding.

But overnight, those feelings receded. They didn’t go away. They’re still there, and for all I know could come flowing back in all their fury given the right prompt. But they’re no longer top of mind.

Instead, what I’m feeling most right now is something that feels quite foreign to me: satisfaction. Why? Because without doubt this has been the best week for all Americans of good will since Richard Milhous Nixon fled the presidency more than 40 years ago. Not only is the Confederate battle flag likely coming down at the South Carolina Statehouse (at this writing no vote has been scheduled), but a number of large companies have pledged to stop selling Confederate-themed stuff. And at the Supreme Court, not only was the Affordable Care Act upheld (again), the court also ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in this country.

That last one, though not unexpected, was particularly delicious because the bad guys were hoisted on their own petard. The anti-SSM crowd had argued that marriage was so important an institution to our society that it had to be protected. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in a neat bit of judiciary jiujitsu, responded, in effect, “Yes, it IS important — so important that it is a basic right that belongs to ALL.” And then he dropped the mic.

Let’s look at who lost here:

So who won? Everybody, really, including the people who lost, because as a result of these changes, all of us, including them, are going to live in a better America. America is a little less bigoted, significantly more financially secure and a helluva lot more equal today than it was last weekend.

Now, this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t point out a few caveats. For one thing, nice as it is to get the Dixie Swastika off the Statehouse grounds and to start a real conversation about the noxious culture surrounding it, we still have to start a real conversation about the larger culture of racism, of which the flag is only a symbol.

We would be morally obtuse if we didn’t grasp that the whole reason we’re even having a conversation about the Dixie Swastika is that a young man in the pernicious grasp of its culture walked into an old and beloved Charleston church and shot nine innocent people to death in cold blood. And we would be even more morally obtuse if we didn’t start that real conversation about the culture of racism. Oh, we’ve nibbled at it here and there — a number of politicians, including my own Sen. Thom Tillis, have been caught taking money from a white-supremacist group, the Conservative Citizens Council — but I’m afraid it’ll take even more bloodshed before we get serious about this.

We also need to talk about how easy it remains for crazy people to buy guns. I know that it looks like Gun America (including but not limited to the NRA) has shut down this conversation, and that more people will die needlessly as a result, but we need to keep having it anyway.

As for the Affordable Care Act and health insurance, we remain basically the only Western industrialized democracy where a health problem can bankrupt you. That still needs to change, for all the good, and it is a lot of good, that Obamacare has done in recent years (at lower cost than expected and with greater beneficial effects on the deficit than has been expected).

And while same-sex marriage remains the law of the land, there are still some holdouts, including some county clerks or deed recorders who are saying they simply won’t marry anyone rather than marrying same-sex couples. (Remember when public pools were closed outright during the desegregation era rather than be opened to African Americans? Good times.) They’ll have to be sued individually. But they will be. And they, too, will lose. And there no doubt will continue to be lawsuits because in areas other than marriage, some people will continue to insist, in the face of law, logic, and morality, that LGBTQ folks don’t have the same rights as the rest of us.

All these challenges, and some nontrivial losses, still lie ahead of us. More blood and treasure will be spilled. Reactionaries gonna react. It’s what they do. It’s how they roll. And they tend to get worse, to escalate, every time they do; as Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog reminds us, “they vote, they dominate many American states, and they own guns.” And they’re getting at least some positive reinforcement from high places; as my friend Mark Costley observed on Facebook of the Supreme Court’s dissenters:

… they are — I believe consciously — furthering a right wing theme calculated to weaken the confidence of the citizenry in our government. The right wing of the Republican Party (commonly understood to be the right 11/12 of the party) has embraced an anti-intellectual populism in which the courage to be wrong and stick with your position is one’s greatest trait. This anti-intellectualism makes it impossible to engage in any effective discussion of policy making, national priorities, or governmental accountability.

Few politicians in U.S. history have gone broke inciting lack of confidence in the competence and good will of government, and there are a lot of scared, uninformed, armed people only too willing to believe the worst. So this, too, will be an issue even as we now have 35 years of experience in seeing what horrors so-called limited government inflicts upon our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

But I actually have some hope. As I observed above, this is going to be a better country for the losers as well as the winners in this week’s events, and it isn’t foolish to hope that because the country will be better, at least some of those who may see themselves on the losing end eventually will come to see that it all was for the best.

And I hope everybody else sees that, too, for this week has been as transformative in America as any in decades. And even as we begin to think about what lies ahead, it would be churlish of us not to celebrate it. It is uncharacteristic of me to say so, but I suggest we celebrate — not with the bitter, bitter tears of our opponents, but with champagne.


  1. Obama’s supposed “evolution” on the issue, was brazenly politically calculating.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Sunday, June 28, 2015 4:36 pm @ 4:36 pm

  2. Well, duh. At least half of political “leadership” is spotting where the crowd is heading, running to the front, and pretending you were there all along. The heavy lifting was being on this issue in Massachusetts when Obama hadn’t yet even gotten into politics.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, June 28, 2015 4:39 pm @ 4:39 pm

  3. May I reblog?

    Comment by Jo Mayne Casey — Sunday, June 28, 2015 7:32 pm @ 7:32 pm

    • um, never mind…I just linked it. I really enjoy your writing. Thanks.

      Comment by Jo Mayne Casey — Sunday, June 28, 2015 8:55 pm @ 8:55 pm

      • No problem!

        Comment by Lex — Sunday, June 28, 2015 11:20 pm @ 11:20 pm

  4. […] eloquently than I,   Here is how a fellow-blogger phrased […]

    Pingback by Week-end Wrap-up | The News from Sonnystone Acres... — Sunday, June 28, 2015 8:53 pm @ 8:53 pm

  5. The Wrong Side of History’ 2.0

    “Among the stratagems employed by the cultural Left to discourage, dispirit, and dissuade the plurality of culturally sane Americans from opposing same-sex “marriage” is the all-encompassing insistence that the fight has already been lost. The phrase of choice has been to say that proponents of traditional marriage are on “the wrong side of history.”

    With at least 5,000 years of Western civilization normalizing monogamous heterosexual marriage, and the American experiment with redefining marriage a mere 10 years old, it certainly seems like I’m on the right side of history – the long one…the one authenticated by every society that produced human flourishing”.

    Oh Happy Day for divorce lawyers.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, June 29, 2015 1:07 am @ 1:07 am

  6. Your source is wrong on the facts. A variety of other forms of marriage were observed not only in Biblical times but also in medieval Europe, to say nothing of very recent (by the author’s standards) polygamy here in North America.

    As for being on the wrong side of history, well, you can look at the issue in terms of whether it expands freedom, restricts freedom, or has no net effect on freedom. And with exceptional outbreaks of reactionism, American history has been the story of expanding freedom. This is the point that Mike Huckabee fails to grasp when he calls on state officials to engage in MLK-like civil disobedience: MLK was working to expand freedom, while Huckabee would have these folks work to prevent that expansion. (Not to mention risking prison by violating their oaths of office. Brave guy, our Mike: “Hey, go to prison so that I can look good!”

    As you know, my preference would be to get the government out of the marriage business entirely. But if it’s going to be in the marriage business, and not only that but also to extend certain rights and privileges to married folks, then it can’t be making invidious distinctions about who can and can’t get married.

    Comment by Lex — Monday, June 29, 2015 7:14 am @ 7:14 am

  7. Weak and anecdotal Lex, . If that’s the best you can do then you, not me , are on the wrong side of history

    That shit ain’t right….. Willie Nelson

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, June 30, 2015 1:12 am @ 1:12 am

  8. Completely off topic, but is there an enumeration of all the ways that people get silenced, if someone wants to silence them?

    Comment by Guest — Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:35 pm @ 6:35 pm

    • Not sure I follow.

      Comment by Lex — Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:40 pm @ 6:40 pm

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