I’m wondering if our country has deep and enduring political swings that last 30-40 years. I think I was lulled by the gradual progressive bent that began in the 1960’s, when I reached early adulthood, and seems to have moved in the right direction ever since — until the election of Trump. I understood Dr. King’s “moral arc of the universe bending toward justice” as going in one direction only, not something that took wide zigzags back and forth.
Now we’re experiencing a sharp backlash, well funded and coordinated by white conservatives, Catholic and Evangelical true believers, augmented by malleable angry Rust Belt voters who just want to punch somebody in the nose because their lives didn’t stay the same and they’re mad about it.
Here’s a profile of one of the stalwarts of the backlash, Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, the group that has worked for 40 years to fill the bench at all levels with white conservative men. Their success will make life very difficult for the next several decades for women, immigrants, Muslims, blue states, the poor — anyone who doesn’t look and sound like Kavanaugh and Gorsuch and Alito and Thomas and Roberts. Yes, there is one black man in that portrait — an angry and bitter one whose porn history and sexual harassment of women should have kept him off the bench in the first place.
Another element of the backlash is the Koch network rebranding its dark money effort to infuse the political culture with libertarian goals as “philanthropy.”
Another is the absolute conviction of religious conservatives that controlling women’s reproductive choice is the defining battle of their era — irrespective of what happens to all those unwanted babies and unwilling mothers over time. Joan Chittester, a Roman Catholic nun who’s been speaking out for decades, defines such people as “pro birth”, which is distinct from “pro life”.
The country is split pretty much down the middle, at least in terms of the way people vote. If it takes 40 years to see this current dark turn in the political and culture wars zigzag back I won’t live to see it. Sobering thought.