Progress and Reactionary Lies

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I am old. I remember the 1960s, the protests, the outrage, the sense of progress attained on many fronts, the real gains in voting rights and personal liberty. That “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice” seemed almost a given (even though that was not the proper interpretation, click the link). With the reactionary curtailment of voting rights, the Dobbs reversal of Roe, and the flood of Republican-sponsored restrictive legislation, the “bend toward justice” feels fundamentally threatened. It pains me to think that all that progress may be lost and our children and grandchildren will be forced back into a dark, restrictive world from which we thought we were emerging.

I start my day by reading two Substack emails, Letters from an American by historian Heather Cox Richardson and Today’s Edition Newsletter by retired attorney Robert Hubbell. The ending Hubbell’s May 14th Newsletter spoke to me on this sense of pain:

I spoke to a reader today about astrophotography, and the conversation turned to the fractured political dynamic our nation is experiencing. The reader noted that he actively participated in civil rights and anti-war protests in the 1960s and 1970s. He observed that it seemed as though we were losing ground that was captured in those decades.

Many readers of this newsletter likely have the same experience of participating in protests and witnessing rapid social and political change. The reactionary MAGA movement and civil rights setbacks of the last six years seem anomalous. The loss of civil liberties under Trump’s reactionary Supreme Court rightfully raises dire concerns about the world we will leave our children and grandchildren.

But, with a bit of perspective, it appears that the rapid progress of the 1960s and 1970s was the anomaly. Readers who came of age during those decades reasonably assumed that such rapid progress was in the natural order of things. In truth, the progress of the 1960s and 1970s was built on decades of frustrating losses, setbacks, and seeming futility that prepared the ground for future victories.

We may be experiencing another season of discontent that will precede rapid progress. It took the reality of Dobbs to remind us of the hard-fought victory of Roe v. Wade. It took the slap in the face of Shelby County v. Holder to remind us of the crowning achievement of the Voting Rights Act.

In loss, there is pain and remembrance. Fortunately, those who remember the lessons of the 1960s and 1970s have rallied to reclaim the ground gained half a century ago. But to complete the victory, we must involve the next generation—whose rights and freedoms are on the ballot in 2024.

So, spread the word! Do not pass up the opportunity to remind younger voters of what it took to gain the rights and liberties now under attack. Together, we can reclaim and expand the rights guaranteed by the Constitution!

The Weekly Sift

Every Monday I read Doug Muder’s The Weekly Sift. In part of his May 13th discussion of possible bias at the New York Times this paragraph stood out as painfully true: 

You can’t really understand left/right journalistic bias without this observation: Most MAGA positions rely on believing (or at least arguing) things that simply aren’t true: an immigrant crime wave is sweeping through America’s cities, crime in general is up, climate change isn’t real, the Covid vaccine did more harm than good, the economy is terrible, Trump really won the 2020 election (which entails its own full basket of untruths: undocumented immigrants voted, dead people voted, voting machines were rigged …), healthy fetuses get aborted up to (and even past) the moment of birth, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is justified, the Southern border is “open“, January 6 was a peaceful protest led by patriots, the Black Lives Matter protests burned American cities to the ground, and so on. (I’m sure I missed a few.)

You will find an echo of at least one and often many of those fabrications in the campaign literature of nearly every Republican candidate. “Election integrity” is code for “the 2020 election was stolen and we must ‘fix that’.” “Sanctity of human life” is code for “I would vote to outlaw abortion and contraception given the opportunity.” “I’ll protect your gas stoves” and candidate for Washington State governor Dave Reichert’s “‘the guy upstairs’ is responsible for controlling the weather” is code for “Climate change isn’t real and, if it is, there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it, so full steam ahead with fossil fuels!” 

Keep to the high ground,