The Needy Will Have To Wait
The Washington Post's Matt Miller writes
Did you hear that Dick Cheney came out for universal health-care coverage after his uninsured daughter went bankrupt because she fell expensively ill?
Or that Sen. Rob Portman just proposed a big new program to guarantee great teachers for every child after finding out that his son had awful, untrained professors at Yale?
I’ve been thinking about the amazing pace of change in public attitudes and political sentiment on gay marriage — and how every Tom, Dick and Harry (or at least every Hillary, Mark and Claire) seems to be rushing out a video or press release getting on the new right side of marriage equality.
Miller quotes former Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass) quipping “I think my continued sexual attraction to men is more politically acceptable than my attraction to government." He observes
Maybe America’s accelerated “evolution” on gay marriage proves that the ultimate taboo in our society is redistribution. As Martin Luther King Jr. learned near the end, securing legal equality turned out to be the easy part. Nobody had to write a check. Equal opportunity and economic justice are entirely different matters, requiring a nation to take even bigger leaps of empathy and imagination.
He concedes, additionally,
I never thought most Americans would support gay marriage before they supported, say, basic health insurance for every citizen. Or excellent teachers for every child. Or some minimally decent reward for full-time work. In fact, for the last decade I assumed that the prominence of gay marriage as an issue would be an impediment to the pursuit of those other goals.
Boy, was I wrong.
As disquieting as it should be that hostility for government intervention for all citizens now is less politically acceptable than same-sex marriage, it is disturbing that Miller may not have been wrong "that the prominence of gay marriage as an issue (is) an impediment to the pursuit of other" progressive goals. The right is on the march in several states such as North Dakota, in which Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed two anti-abortion rights bills, both of which he supported in part because "the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question." Digby speculates
I'm fairly sure that the hardcore Christian Right isn't going to come over to gay marriage any time soon. But the rest of the right wing seems to be making peace with it. But this issue is non-negotiable and I'm going to guess that the right will stay coalesced around it. They certainly don't seem to be losing any steam in the states.
I'm going to make the sad prediction that we're going to get some third way types saying that since the right "met us halfway" on gay rights it's only fair to meet them halfway on reproductive rights. And there will be plenty of centrists who believe that makes sense.
Maybe, maybe not. But as her colleague notes, "Much as social liberalism is a critically important part of the puzzle... the true test of mettle has to be on economics." Whether optimist Miller or pessimist Digby proves more prescient, one thing is virtually certain: a victory for same-sex marriage will be a victory for same-sex marriage- and little, if anything, else.