In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACA this week, I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter. Some are decrying it as the end of freedom in America. I’d like to take a moment to share my thoughts.
Where some people see eroding liberty, I see advancing progress. We are evolving into a better society. True, some folks have to be dragged along kicking and screaming (I’m looking at you, congressional Republicans), but we are evolving. Because to do otherwise is to lose our special place in the world. Do you know why America is a great nation? It’s not because of our public schools, or our kick-ass military, or even our Constitution. It’s because we keep looking forward. We keep reaching for the next step on the ladder—in exploration, in technology, and in social equality. The same energy that freed the Africans from bondage funneled into the women’s suffrage movement; it led to the civil rights era of Martin Luther King; and today it fuels the LGBT movement. That’s freedom. That’s fucking freedom you can believe in and be proud of.
By 2012 I thought we’d have flying cars and vacations on the moon, and enough goddamned sense to treat each other with basic respect. I thought that Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Whites, Gays and Straights, would all be working and living together like we saw in the old Star Trek series, boldly going where no man has gone before. Instead, we bicker over whether people should have access to healthcare and contraceptives so that they might pursue a little happiness in this life. We wage wars over oil and religion without blinking an eye, but if you have the gall to suggest we actually put some resources toward erasing poverty here in America you’d better be ready to defend yourself. We have people—some successful, some just lucky to have popped out of the right vagina—who possess enough wealth to purchase medium-sized nations; and some of them use their fantastic fortunes to buy politicians so they can get special favors. We have citizens who can’t deal with the idea that a Black man sits in the Oval Office, or that – oh no! – gay people want to get married and be treated like normal human beings. It pisses me off that there are men in this country who still think of women as property, to be told what to do with their uteruses, to be impregnated at will and kept on a short leash.
Why is this allowed to go on? Kindly turn your attention to the angry people on the radio and television who bleat about how the government is trampling on their freedoms. It’s a lie, a vicious lie born of greed and desperation. The government has exactly as much power as we – you and I – give it, and not one whit more. President Obama isn’t the death of freedom; he’s the next step on a journey that began in 1776 when a handful of people signed a little declaration against tyranny. That Declaration and the Constitution were meant to be the beginning of the American conversation, not the end. The Founding Fathers weren’t looking back to the old ways; they were looking forward to new opportunities.
You, today’s generation, are less restricted by the shackles of bigotry and misogyny and tribal labels than your ancestors. Or at least you should be. And if you’re not, if you long for those good old days when women only spoke when spoken to, and non-whites were relegated to the back of the bus, and poor people just suffered quietly in their shacks down by the river, then fuck you. You don’t get the benefit of the doubt. This is the twenty-first century. Grow up or shut up, but either way this country is progressing forward.