Progressives’ good week
Progressives had a very good week. So good that the New York Times dubbed it the Liberal Spring. So good that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called it “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.” After the humiliation of the 2014 elections, it felt good to be hopeful and inspired again.
As the Confederate flags started coming down in solidarity with the murdered citizens of Charleston, a nation seemed to wake up to the dangers of homegrown right-wing extremism.
Then the Supreme Court affirmed Obamacare, and the 17 million Americans who now have health insurance breathed a huge sigh of relief, escaping the chaos of an adverse decision.
And finally, marriage. What seemed impossible in 2009, when it was all the Nevada Legislature could do to override Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto of domestic partnerships, is now the law of the land. Social media could barely contain itself.
There were naysayers, to be sure. They said it wasn’t a flag or a gun that killed the church members, it was a deranged young man, and we’ll never know why. This, despite the photos and words that clearly portrayed a racist white man, fueled by hatred, who bought a gun to express his views in the most despicable way.
Republican leaders refused to give up their holy war against health care for the millions of Americans who need Obamacare because their employers won’t provide health insurance and their Republican governors refuse to expand Medicaid to cover low-wage workers. And don’t think they’re giving up now, just because the Supreme Court has ruled.
The rhetoric was predictable with rants from Mississippi’s Gov. Phil Bryant about “the socialist takeover of health care forced down the throats of the American people,” not to mention all the Republican presidential candidates and congressional leaders who vowed to continue their fight to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Not one provided even a glimmer of what the replacement plan would be, even as more than a few of their consultants acknowledged they were relieved the Supreme Court decision meant the phantom replacement plan could now remain a secret forever.
Nevada’s Republican leaders were more muted in their criticism, realizing that Obamacare has had a tremendous positive effect here through the expansion of Medicaid and access to subsidies on the exchange. While avoiding any praise for the president, Gov. Sandoval couldn’t help but point out that the number of uninsured in Nevada has been cut in half since Obamacare was implemented.
But it was Friday’s decision to allow all to marry that made progressives giddy with happiness. And not just those who suddenly had the right to marry. Straight friends, neighbors and family members were genuine in their joy, witnessing the shift to equality many thought would not arrive in their lifetimes. The ruling was a testament to the courage so many individuals showed over the years through quiet and difficult conversations with family members as well as suffering through angry public confrontations with right-wing zealots who portrayed homosexuality as a sin against God and country.
Again, Republican leaders remained mired in a pitiful and increasingly petty litany of personal religious opinions and arguments of states rights to explain their discriminatory views, despite evidence that many in their own party, especially young people, have fully embraced equal rights.
The triumphs of last week arrived like a thunderbolt, as President Obama suggested, even to those who had anticipated the Supreme Court decisions. While many Republicans vow to move the country backward through constitutional amendments or replacing jurists, it falls upon the rest of us to harness renewed progressive energy toward other intractable problems: corporate corruption in our politics, gender equity, and ensuring every American is able to vote.
Last week proved it can be done.