What’s wrong with the media? They overplay their take on every story until any real truths that might be learned are completely obliterated.
Barack Obama’s stunning, yes stunning, landslide election last night gives every segment of the Democratic Party reason for hope and joy. The diverse crowd that gathered at Grant Park in Chicago last night was an overwhelming scene of empowerment of a new President by the people who support him. His speech was, as usual, brilliant, but it was also sober and subdued on many levels. He recognized that there is much work ahead for a country that is near financial ruin and still engaged in two wars overseas. He rightly called on all Americans to join him in his vision of a nation ruled by the people – all people.
The setting was particularly important in its historical context. As a baby boomer I am not only an Army veteran of the Vietnam War era, I am also a veteran of the cultural wars that sprang up around that war. There was a divide in my generation that came to a bloody decision 40 years ago in Grant Park as the Democratic Party nominated Hubert Humphrey as their standard bearer in 1968. I only knew it because I was in basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and remember being placed on alert status in case we were needed to quell the violence that the Johnson Administration feared might sweep through the nation. It didn’t, but instead it showed a violent side to the liberal movement that frightened the American people.
Sides were quickly taken between those who supported the war and those who opposed it. While opponents held the majority view by that point, many of them were startled by the violent nature of the “Anti-War Movement.” By their actions in Grant Park that night, liberal thinking in our nation started down a path that led, as Tom Brokaw pointed out today on Morning Joe, to the election of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. The liberal movement’s antics in Grant Park that night backfired in a way that changed American political thinking for the next 40 years.
The so-called Culture Wars that have raged ever since came to a head during the past two presidencies as two members of the boomer generation stood as representatives of the two movements brought about in 1968 Grant Park. Bill Clinton carried the hopes and dreams of the Peaceniks, the disenfranchised minorities – both ethnically and culturally – and all those who believed in the core people-first ideals of the Democratic Party. George W. Bush, on the other hand, carried the hopes and dreams of well-meaning Christian Conservatives who wanted to see a restoration of their vision of a nation buoyed by its morality, people who resented their taxes being spent on things they didn’t believe in and the core “what’s good for big business is good for America” economic principals that are the foundation of the Republican Party.
The political and social fallout of these two boomer ideologies taking turns at the helm of our government has resulted in a deeply divided citizenry that has lost any ability to carry on any civil conversation about the issues of the day. We became, in essence, two nations within one boundary that hated and distrusted each other in every possible way. No one even discussed compromise in order to bring a comfort level to the everyday person in Middle America. Instead we were all drawn into the Culture War by politicians on both sides who used each side to gain advantage.
This morning the “geniuses” on Morning Joe were heralding the election of Barack Obama to be the end of racism in our nation. By extension they were calling an end to the Culture War and prejudice of any kind in America. While I really want to jump on that bandwagon, I am aware of another election-night story that is going largely unreported in the euphoria of the moment. As one long-suffering minority has achieved what seemed to be the impossible in my lifetime, another group of our brothers and sisters saw a major setback in their struggle for equality for all. Rachel Maddow brought it up last night, but her fellow panelists at MSNBC quickly brushed it aside and resumed the celebration of a landmark in American political history. I do not fault them for their enthusiasm. I, too, like Jesse Jackson, sat teary eyed as Barack Obama came out onto the stage to accept the accolades he so richly deserved.
But amid the pictures of celebrations around the country shown by MSNBC was one that had the tinge of defeat to it. No, not the McCain rally in Phoenix. It was the victory rally being held outside the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. While minority America celebrated its moment of triumph in Chicago and New York as well as several other places around the nation, the gay community of California was watching a recently gained right taken away by the electorate in what many would call the most liberal state in the nation. The proposition to overturn the California Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage was passing by a narrow margin. This morning that trend still holds and the religious right proponents of the measure are cautiously predicting victory.
In our rush to embrace the notion that prejudice is dead in America, let us not forget that it is still alive, even in California. As we rightfully celebrate the great achievement of Barack Obama and the long suffering civil rights movement, let us not forget that it was the Supreme Court of the United States and a couple of American Presidents who started that ball rolling. What if the citizens of the United States had realized that they could wipe those measures out by statewide initiatives? No doubt, we would not be seeing what we are seeing today. The America of the 1950s and 1960s was forced to accept equality of African Americans; they did not choose to.
The idea that we still allow, after all these years, a numerically overpowering majority to keep a certain group of citizens away from the table flies in the face of the very foundations of our government. The Supreme Court of the United States was specifically set up to keep such tyranny from being pushed down on a minority by the majority. The Bush Administration has railed against this premise as has the Republican Party. They call it “strict constructionism.” I call it what it is, assertion of power by one group over another, i.e. tyranny.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” ~C.S. Lewis
I am also, just now, informed that Michelle Bachmann, the most hateful elected official in the nation, has won her bid for re-election to the House of Representatives. Yes, America, we still have a long way to go. Those who push the right-wing side of the Culture War are still poised to re-emerge and sweep aside whatever gains we feel we have made. While we feel the warmth and comfort of this great day in American politics and history, let us not forget that vigilance is always necessary in a democracy.
“The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men.” -Samuel Adams
Until EVERYBODY is free, nobody is free!
KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!