"Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views."
Progressives, especially those of us who live on one of the two coasts, think we are fighting the same old battles against an annoying, but diminishing, reactionary Right.
That's been largely so, until now. Now it's different. And it's different in a very big way.
During my lifetime progressives fought solid progressive fights. We fought for racial equality, women's rights, ecological protections, social equality, educational advancements, fair politics. And, when we suffered setbacks, and there were many, we were comforted by the knowledge that the line of last defense -- the Supreme Court -- would set matters right, once and for all.
It was a good run too. For nearly half a century we knocked-em dead, moving the US, and much of the rest of the world, deeper and deeper into Progressive territory, ready to enter the 21st century with heads held high, ready to march on.
Now suddenly, so sudden that most Progressives haven't even noticed, we are, at best, marching in place, and at worst being driven back.
And not just here in the US, but around the world. Conservatism is back, and in a big way. And no, I'm not just talking about the Tea Party, which is simply one factor among many.
In Western Europe, xenophobia is once again in vogue; in France, in Norway, in Germany, in Briton, in Italy... anti-immigration politicians are on a roll. Once open doors are slamming shut on those from the East, the Middle East and Africa as indigenous populations fear change.
And it has been change that is at the core of this conservative resurgence. It's a retrenchment after decades of rapid change, accelerated most startlingly by the communication's revolution that began in the early 1990s.
Now those, the majority on this planet, who live and work in the Great Apathetic Center, are exhausted and ready for a rest from this rush of change. They fear they have lost the thread of it all, fearing that in this rush forward into unknown territories, they are losing "something else" -- their identities, the familiar, the comfortable, the myths that nourished their culture, their states, their communities, their families. They're exhausted by change and would be very happy if it all stopped dead in its tracks for now and if it all were even rolled back a bit... or quite a bit.
And so they rally from below, not above. From the rank and file, the grassroots, whatever you want to call it. These are the lumpenproletariat, the rabble, the great unwashed, whatever you want to call them. They are many, and they are an unhappy many.
And now, those who would be their leaders are themselves on the run from them. When change is on a roll, change goes every which way -- and now they want change there too, as Eric Cantor discovered to his shock and awe. And now those like him, are rushing to join back up with their scared constituencies:
Social/political battles have moved from Washington DC to states and communities, where grassroots groups are throwing spike-strips in road of change; voter suppression efforts, for example, designed to limit minority voices, (voices that will soon become majority voices in many places, and the nation itself.)
The ghost of Gov. George Wallace is blocking he schoolhouse door once again. It's "state's rights" redux. Regionalists, who are no longer thinking nationally, much less globally, but locally, where they can get their hands right around the neck of the matter that matters to them.
As I noted in the beginning, this is not just blip, it's a trending matter, a sea change in national and world politics. It's being fed by two entirely new stimuli: hyper communication, and overpopulation. One feeds them a non-stop stream of news, what's happening, day by day, minute by minute. The other approaches, like a gathering storm or prairie fire, threatening to overwhelm them, their cultures, their livelihoods, their future.