We are stuck.
On one hand liberals, or progressives, or left-wing, or Democrats, or whatever you want to call them; are hell-bent on subdividing our nation into ever tightly defined ‘identities.’ According to them, I am a cis-gender gay white male occupying land once inhabited by the Massachusett people who uses ‘he’ series pronouns, recycles, doesn’t buy meat, and rides a bicycle.
On the other hand, conservatives, or traditionalists, or right-wing, or Republicans, or whatever you want to call them; are hell-bent on measuring liberty and justice for all according to a yardstick ticked off in the 1950’s. According to them I am a successful property owner who racked up a big bank balance without government handouts, who invests on Wall Street, listens to country music, watches Chicago P.D., and drinks PBR.
Both of these synopses of my personal life are accurate; neither is complete. Similarly, the world views ascribed by the two poles of our political arena each hold some truth, but they are selective truths. The Left’s constant parsing into ever-tighter identities pulls us further from a collective identity; while the Right’s vision of a unified America demeans most anyone who is not a heterosexual white Christian.
I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.’s adage, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” These days, that arc seems mighty long and shallow.
Political theories, and their power, run in cycles, often 40 to 50 years in duration. The excesses of the 1890’s Gilded Age led to the 1930’s Depression, which realigned our politics along the New Deal. The idea of government providing a base of social cohesion for all appealed to the majority of Americans, so long as that cohesion was predominately Christian and white. During the 1960’s and 70’s, Blacks and Browns and gays clamored for a slice of the Great Society until Nixon’s “silent majority” commandeered the conversation by electing Ronald Reagan in 1980. Ever since, our federal government parrots getting smaller (despite growing bigger), while it delivers fewer services, reduces individual protections, and increases corporate influence under the guise of free enterprise. Gilded Age 2.0.
There will be a shift in our political direction. Whether it occurs in response to outlawed abortions, or negligent climate response, increased economic inequality, or erosion of personal freedoms, I do not know. Whether we can vote ourselves back into a semblance of…