Opinion » Bill Cope

Tipping Points

Thanksgiving for liberals


Let us call tomorrow the midpoint of the 2016 presidential campaign. That's not as arbitrary as it might sound. Looking forward, we have just more than 11 months until Election Day. Eleven months ago was the day after Christmas 2014. Even though Ted Cruz, the first to enter the race officially, announced his candidacy in late March of this year, Rick Perry hinted we might see him in another presidential race as early as July 2013. Everyone has known for years that Cruz and Clinton, Paul, Jindal and Huckabee, would run.

In the months preceding their announcements, they were all lining up donors, campaign teams, ground support, planning their strategy, calculating their chances... so, averaged out, tomorrow is as good a day as any to call the midpoint to this national hubbub. As it falls on Thanksgiving, would it not be propitious moment to relax, take stock and count our blessings?

There is clearly a lot of tension in the American air, and for good reason. It's not merely the presidency we're all—Dem and Rep—nervous about. There is so much more: the future of the Supreme Court, of "Citizens United," of abortion rights and voting rights and labor rights, education, health care, America's standing in the community of nations... and more.

Yet there is much to encourage us, too, and I come today to remind you of those bright spots on the approaching horizon. (But not if you are conservative. I'm warning conservatives right now that perhaps you'd best not read any further. I don't want to get you all disgruntled and nasty on Thanksgiving Day, so why don't you go see if there's a football game you can watch on teevee, or maybe a turkey that needs beheading.)

Especially during times like these, when the news is so preoccupied with bombast and bullshit, we tend to overlook the incremental changes happening around us. Unless we are directly involved in those changes, either as activists or beneficiaries of the activism, they slip by, often without notice, until a tipping point is reached.

Take the LGBT rights movement. Had you told me 20 years ago... even 10... that gays and lesbians would be allowed marriage equality anytime soon, I would have laughed in your face and suggested you take a taxi home.

Ah, but look what's happened. Piece by piece, the framework was put in place and once the states started turning, the obstructions came tumbling down with remarkable speed. Same-sex marriage reality a decade ago?... Not in my lifetime! Same-sex marriage reality today?... Done deal! I can't honestly say I know why this issue flipped over so quickly, but in my mind, the biggest and most palpable shift wasn't in the courts or state legislatures or social media, but in the hearts and minds of the American majority. Without it, the new reality wouldn't exist.

Here are some other matters that have tacked away from a long-held conservative course and picked up a progressive wind in their sails. Legalization of marijuana is such an obvious example, I don't need to waste any more words on it. But can you feel the tide turn on animal welfare reform? Scoff at animal activists for their naivete if you will, but whatever they're doing is taking hold in large parts of the country. Example: the end of turning orcas into 6-ton circus clowns, as recently decided by SeaWorld. That didn't happen because SeaWorld execs were afraid of PETA. It happened because audiences showed with their lagging attendance they are no longer so interested in the show as they are the animal. Once people start understanding the intrinsic worth of one creature, it's a short step to seeing the value in all creatures. Take note, corporate agriculture.

Prison reform, another longtime smoking ember that has turned into a steady flame. And this flame is being fanned bipartisanly. Even the Kochs are for it. I hope you don't own a lot of stock in private corrections corporations, because my guess is they are soon to be cinders.

Minimum wage reform is on the march, city by city... state by state. I don't suggest anyone hold their breath until Idaho follows Seattle down the path from laughable wage to livable wage, but let us thank the gods that Idaho really doesn't count when it comes to anything important. What's more, don't be surprised to see unionized fast food workers all across America within another decade.

Global warming awareness has taken a turn for the better. All the slung mud about it being an international environmentalist hoax is no longer sticking, mostly because the weather isn't cooperating with the slingers.

Finally, the reform of gun regulation is coming and any politician who stands in the way of such sane and sensible policies as universal background checks will soon find his NRA approval ratings won't help him—not against the will of the American electorate.

That's the way it works, friends. In the long-run, what the American people don't want to happen, won't. When they change their minds on any particular policy, so does the policy. On issue after issue, Americans are settling into a liberal resolution, and once you've understood the intrinsic value of a liberal attitude on enough individual issues, you will understand the intrinsic folly of ever following a conservative path again.

Happy Thanksgiving.