This year’s election reminded me of a piece that Anil Dash wrote almost ten years ago on our culture’s tendency towards liberalism. It’s my favorite thing he’s ever written and is one of the few pieces of writing that instantly shifted my thinking in a significant way.
Our ideas are winning, you see. When Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya in 1986, he didn’t make sure to urge Americans to have tolerance for people of Libyan descent living among us. But a scant 15 years later, President Bush made repeated calls for tolerance towards muslims in this country, not just out of what I see as his genuine motivation to do what was right, but also because the tenor of public discourse has changed that rapidly due to the tolerant influence of liberal philosophy. Gay marriage is still a big point of debate, but the presence of openly gay characters in mass media has changed in the same decade and a half from being scandalous to being clich’ed. It will be the burden of the next generation to hold the today’s conservatives to their record of homophobia, but it’s only a matter of time until that happens.
George W. Bush put out a message from the White House in honor of Kwanzaa. We’re winning.
It’s probably that sense of a slow, inexorable loss that makes conservatives terrified, causing them to respond with a desperate clinging to the past that only serves to further doom their cause. The best solutions, of course, lie in the future.
Tuesday’s election — an event that included reelecting a mixed-race President, legalizing marijuana in some states, legalizing same-sex marriage in some states, electing women to the Senate in record numbers, the election of the first openly gay Senator, and the defeat of many hard-line social conservatives — serves as a reminder that the country continues to move in a more liberal direction.