“Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.” – Abba Eban
STATESBORO, GEORGIA – Those who argue for American Exceptionalism hang their hats on the notion that the United States of America was founded on the theoretical pursuit of freedom, as paradoxical a belief as there has ever been considering our founding and construction was fueled by the sweat of slaves and steadied on the backs of subjugated women. Even scholars and so-called patriots who hold to the concept like life-preservers have to admit that the country’s Puritanical roots and legendary individualism have forced America to drag behind the other industrialized powers in freedoms, rights, and due process under the law and economy. We are notorious for our tardiness in accepting the dignity and liberties our entire system is supposedly established upon.
As a result, real moments of systemic change are a rarity in these United States, making the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges one of the more momentous days in the history of our relatively young country’s existence. Though pundits and court-watchers predicted the decision uniformly, and the hive-mind of the Internet seemed almost overly assured of the victory, especially considering the tenuous nature of the 5-4 split, when news dropped it was time for near-universal jubilation for the LGBT communities and their open-minded allies, the celebration perhaps amplified by the simple surprise that somehow, someway, We Finally Got One Right.
As is the case in all conflicts, there are a few remaining skirmishes to be had. County judges and offices are symbolically refusing to heed the Court and denying marriage licenses in ignorant pockets around the country, but there is definitely a sense that the battle here has been won, that this is one of those turning points where we will not look back, a moment where the glacier, slow to arrive, has slipped through and it’s here to stay. It’s Rowe v. Wade or, even more appropriately, a Loving v. Virginia, which finally legalized interracial marriage a scant forty-eight years ago this month. Same-sex marriage is now the Law of the Land and will become known, in due time, as simply Marriage.
It’s the culmination of a long-standing blight that will be looked upon by future generations as a detestable humiliation, an embarrassment unprejudiced peoples will have trouble explaining for the rest of their lives. It is simply, The End Of An Error, much in the way that most advancements in the name of democracy are ends to errors.
Opposition to same-sex marriage, much as interracial marriage before it, is an untenable position, but that hasn’t stopped the opposition from standing their ground, even if that ground is shifting as quickly as the blowing sand.
Politically speaking, the Republicans are fucked.
Well, rather, those Republicans interested in winning the presidency are fucked. The rest are enjoying an unprecedented swell of support from the sort of bottom-feeders who are stocking up on Confederate flags while clutching prideful-ignorance to their chests, a hellish partnership that will show this Thursday, the first-quarter fundraising deadline for presidential candidates, just how much money and treasure the bigots are willing to shell out to the Vile and the Swine in this race.
Make no doubt about it: Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, and especially Ted Cruz have been raking in the donations like gangbusters since the ruling, not to mention in the aftermath of the Charleston Massacre, an event that has polarized both Those Who Feel Emotions and Those Who Subsist On Hate. Those four, along with the loathsome Donald Trump, who shouldn’t even be spoken of until he finishes a close second or distant fourth in the New Hampshire Primary, have saturated the airwaves with their persistent and unrepentant messages of hate and intolerance in an effort to pad their coffers, an action which could possibly be defended if they even had half a chance to sniff the nomination, which they do not.
The pageant these four are performing is the worst kind of politics, the Politics of Self-Preservation and Promotion, a theater in which they wrestle more for limelight and attention than electoral victory. Even they of antiquated and questionable morality can see the writing on this wall: the fight for “traditional marriage,” whatever in the hell that means, is over and the public’s mandate has shifted irrevocably. All they’re doing now is profiting off of the continued and unnecessary suffering of a minority that has been oppressed since the invention of oppression.
The Grownups in the Room, or rather Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio, are fucked as well, but on a whole different level. Because they have a chance at their party’s nomination and, before last week’s victory lap and resurgence of Barack Obama, the presidency, they’ve had to read the tea-leaves and understand the social fabric of the country has shifted left dramatically in the changing of this generation. They can’t come out opposed to same-sex marriage because they get that now, in 2015, to do so means to fully embrace the label of Extremist, a tag that all but disqualifies them from The Office.
The GOP primary contests are going to be bloodbaths though, particularly now that the wild-haired and reckless peanut-gallery is outfitted with ungodly amounts of cash and carte blanche to fight against progress like rabid wolverines. Those four, along with Bobby Jindal, who won’t raise money but will be plenty loud until after South Carolina, will be waiting on the debate stages around this country with their knives out and sharpened. Ultimately the establishment and the RNC will intervene and save their candidate, whether it’s Jeb or Christie or Rubio, but the damage will be irreversible.
The winner in all of this, the Great Hidden One who has somehow stayed out of the spotlight while maintaining a healthy lead in the polls, is Scott Walker, The Demon Governor of Wisconsin, the Shadow Candidate of the Astro-Turf, Koch-backed Tea Party. The campaign he’s running before ever declaring has been one for the history books. Never has a frontrunner remained so inconspicuous and somehow so controlling of his own narrative. Even the political media has virtually ignored his predestined candidacy as he’s handedly outperformed his rivals in Iowa and South Carolina. He’s shaping up, with hardly a word said or an article written, to be a behemoth in this race, a force which Jeb might’ve handled in the long run had the specter of Charleston and gay-marriage not played out on the national stage.
The battle between Jeb and Walker, if we get there, will be a war for the soul of the Republican Party moving forward, a showdown that decides whether the GOP evolves into a party of individual responsibility and laissez-faire economics or a fire-breathing leviathan that swallows the hate and intolerance of a dying breed of bastards like so many stones until it sinks to the ocean floor of American politics.
The Republicans can still save their party and remain a viable alternative, but in order to do that it’ll have to modernize in a hurry, which has never been the Grand Ol’ Party’s forte. It would have to sidestep a myriad of landmines in Iowa, field the unpredictable questions of New Hampshire’s town halls, and then, if it somehow makes it unscathed to South Carolina, answer to the frothing Southern base how it could possibly not defend the Stars and Bars while allowing the gays to marry.
Of course, electoral defeat isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a candidate or a party. It’s not even on the shortlist, and anybody who’s ever had some skin in the game can tell you as much.
It’s waking up and looking in the mirror and realizing, at long last, you were on the wrong side of history all along.
Photo: dynamosquito by Hadyakh