Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reacting to Rapid Changes

I was struck by this comment in “First Read,” a weekday wrap-up of political news put together by Chuck Todd and others at NBC News:
If you follow American politics day by day, tweet by tweet, poll by poll, and speech by speech, it’s easy to lose sight of the biggest story over the past five years--just how much change (both socially and demographically) this country has witnessed over the past four years. The nation has its first African-American president who won re-election a year ago. A majority of Americas now support gay marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The country is on track to be a majority-minority nation 30 years from now. And the Senate is poised to pass immigration legislation giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

Taken together, this is a stunning amount of social change in a very short period of time. And all of that change helps to explain much of the partisanship and politics over the past four years. After all, when one side is pursuing change, the other side is often resisting it. In fact, the last time this country witnessed so much social change was in the 1960s (first Catholic president, civil-rights movement, environmental movement, Medicare, resistance to Vietnam War), and the politics back then was far nastier. Yet between the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and Obama’s election, the country was mostly running in place when it came to big social change. It’s why the two parties for those 30-plus years worked so hard to copy each other, rather than distinguish themselves. That’s not true anymore.
Today’s edition of “First Read” offers more here.

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