Because I kind of think we all need to read this. Just in case, you know? And if you’re too lazy or too proud to read 10 small paragraphs, here’s the takeaway section:
Over time, we in the US tend to do OK. We’ve made serious mistakes as a country, sometimes dodging apocalypse or genocide by a combination of luck and sheer bloodymindedness. We’ve let our government take action in gruesome ways – internment camps, Vietnam, Iraq. And, as citizens, we’ve stood by while injustices rolled over other people’s lives (this individualized list is too painful and too long to articulate).
But we tend to learn from our mistakes; we tend to correct them, as best we can. Our always re-enforced self-interest and offhand sense of fairness produces a kind of lazy arc toward justice. Frustration and outrage bring wars to an end (“We’re still in Iraq? Why?”). Protest and disenchantment with pursuing a failing cause allow rights to expand (“I’m not going to get up off the couch to keep gays from marrying”).
Romney’s vision of the America in the rearview mirror is a comparatively lonely one. Nostalgia only beckons those who haven’t seen progress. Women don’t want a return to a time when they couldn’t sit in a boardroom without holding a steno pad, or only have control over their bodies if no one knew about it. Black people don’t want to roll the clock back to racial double-vision and divide. Gay men and women don’t want to give up the simple gift of visibility (or even the right to serve in the military).
And however much a Romney administration might push for policies that inch us toward the past, such moves will find resistance. The No 1 force moving America forward is the inertia of tiny gains. But, by golly, those add up: there’s a black man in the White House – and that can never ever be undone.