[Critical Essay and Op-Ed piece]
The final judgment in Roe v Wade was handed down nearly four years after “Jane Roe” fell pregnant. The African-American Civil Rights Movement spent fourteen very active and costly years fighting for equal and fair treatment. Legislation preventing the next Matthew Shepard hate crime and ensuring equal pay to future Lilly Ledbetters took eleven years to get passed. Sixteen years after the Defense Of Marriage Act first became law we are finally seeing its undoing and the release of a new wave of liberties and equalities, but even after all that time it’s still not fully decided or undone.
All of these advances in human rights and human dignity took a long time and much sacrifice. And there is still a lot that needs to be done. That’s why it is so surprising to me that “this is an election about the economy.” Bull Shit. There is more to this election than the economy.
The Great Recession lasted for less than two years and its recovery (which has been slow, but steady) has been progressing for another two. Comparatively, the Great Depression had a near four-year recession and a decade-long recovery. We’ve been wading our way out of the financial meltdown for considerably shorter than the four years that Jane Roe spent fighting for women’s rights. Gays and lesbians have spent four times that in their struggle to be seen as equals. And yet how quickly we forget all of these struggles and how long they took. How quickly we judge the policies of this president as having failed us (never mind that many of his true policies never saw daylight because of a treasonous wall of obstructionism). How quickly we embrace the next guy because “his plans must work better.” And just as quickly we forget everything else that is at stake.
The ironic reality is that the economy will continue to rebound no matter who is in charge – that is because the one thing they all know is that they need to keep the people moneyed to stay in power. (Tax cuts, anyone?) The thing that we don’t know (or fully realize) is that one of our options for the White House also brings with it a dangerous and disguised agenda that will undo Jane Roe’s and Lilly Ledbetter’s and Matthew Shepard’s sacrifices. It will also undo nearly every other significant advance we’ve made in our quest to truly be a “Land of the Free.” And who knows how long we’ll have to fight the next wave of DOMAs just to get back to where we are now.
Economy, my ass. This election is about an unparalleled assault on civil liberties in the name of religious liberties and conservative fundamentalism. It is about the lie of “small government when we are against the principle” yet “government intervention when we are for the principle.” It is about remembering the character of someone when he shows it to us and not rewarding “47%” comments, spineless flip-flopping, reckless warmongering and diplomatic ineptitude with a seat in the Oval Office. It shows that we are prepared to validate a radicalized political position that gains its energy from being counter-constructive; that we’ve forgotten how many “No”s and filibusters and death-panel lies we’ve seen. And how frustrating that was, not to mention how costly those political games really were.
2012 is about the moral fiber of an entire people. It is about whether we recognize and reward integrity. About not being swept away by grand-standing and grease-balling. About seeing reality and record as they truly are and not as some super PAC would have us see them. It is about being willing to struggle for what is right and not forgetting how much struggle has already been endured to get here. Please move forward America.