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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Griper Blade: Guns, Colorado, and the War for Public Opinion

It was quite a long time ago, so I don't remember who said it. I wish I did, because it's stuck with me. John Kerry had just lost to George W. Bush and a radio show was doing a campaign post-mortem to figure out what went wrong for Democrats. The subject of marriage equality came up and a Democratic strategist dismissed the idea of retreating from that front to win elections. "I'd lose a thousand elections over gay marriage," he said. It wasn't John Kerry's position or the Democratic Party's, but it was the rank-and-file's. It's always the progressive wing that drags the Democrat Party into the future. And it always works out well in a historical sense. Progressives are the conscience of the party. You don't abandon what's right for political gain.

Beyond the obvious reasons for this -- e.i., winning elections for the sake of winning elections is nihilism -- there is a longer term reward. If you stand up for what's right when the odds are against you, history remembers that courage and you own that issue forever. It wasn't conservatives who marched with Martin Luther King, as much as they like to pretend the opposite. It was liberals. The conservative attitude toward King was summed up by Ronald Reagan, who argued that King was on the wrong side of the law and, therefore, the wrong side of history. "It's the sort of great tragedy when we begin compromising with law and order and people started choosing which laws they would break," Reagan said, referring to the campaign of civil disobedience that challenged segregation by breaking Jim Crow laws. Being an authoritarian party, order is more important to Republicans than justice.

At the time, King was a deeply unpopular figure, but progressives stuck with him and now the left is rewarded for that courage. The percentage of African-Americans who vote Republican is so tiny that they're basically the crank demographic. You can call it karma if you want, but it's just the obvious result of making the right call -- when you stand on the right side of history, public opinion eventually comes to you. It has to...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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