Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Setting A New Course

While many of our media colleagues are groggy this morning, heads still abuzz with the drinks and festivities of Monday's inaugural events, we write today's commentary with clear eyes and hearts, knowing that we have seen the end of one era in American politics, and the beginning of another.

If you missed it Monday, you should watch the second inaugural address of President Obama before reading the rest of today's commentary. If you pay attention to the words of the President, you will see very clearly a change in the way progress will now be addressed in America.

For most of the last twenty years, our nation has been at war - not just in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan or with al-Qaeda, but ideologically, with one another, in ways our nation hasn't faced since the Civil War. On issues ranging from climate change and immigration, to LGBT equality and economic inequality, there have been two competing sets of ideas, fought under the dominant ideological labels from the last century, liberal and conservative.

The so-called conservative ideas have increasingly been wielded by media and political bullies over the last twenty years. Their bullying has become a form of political terrorism against anyone who disagrees with their ideology that has involved everything from holding our nation's full faith and credit hostage, to monopolistic media practices, to cheating our electoral system through severe gerrymandering.

During that same twenty year span where conservatives have become abusive jerks, those people who have supported liberal and progressive ideas have often been expected to be gentle, easygoing, and conflict averse, trying to win in more intellectual and indirect ways so as not to have to fight more direct battles.

As President Obama's unapologetic address reminded us on Monday, "We [Americans] have always understood that when times change, so must we." Times have indeed changed, and the days of soft progressivism are over.

In a speech that was more progressive than any he's ever made in his current role, President Obama drew from the founding documents of our nation to call for immediate action on climate change, to insist on investing in our nation collectively through government, and to attack our own severe economic inequalities.

The President also made it clear that our commitment to programs like Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security will not waver. Further, he also clearly stated the fact that equality for ALL Americans - men and women, gay and straight, Americans of all ethnic backgrounds - does not make us weaker, but actually has strengthened our nation.

His language directly reflected the kind of strong, centrist, sensible progressivism we have advocated here for years - the kind of real world proven certainty that terrifies bullies.

It's no surprise, then, that the NRA - a textbook example of the kind of bully politics of the right for the last twenty years - has been effectively emasculated by President Obama over the last month. This is evidenced by states around the country following the President's lead in quickly enacting sound gun safety laws. As surely as if a whip-smart woman defanged a misogynistic man with the kind of one-liner a bully doesn't recover from, the 2012 elections showed the NRA to be the nearly impotent lobbying force their lack of electoral wins showed them to be.

In short, America's course has changed from what it's been the last twenty years. Monday, that change was made clear to the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment