It has long been recognized that “liberal” and “progressive” are misnomers when it comes to describing American leftists in the 21st Century. They may fancy themselves as forward-thinking but they go back eighty or so years whenever it’s time to craft economic policy and their racial politics gaze backward a half century.
Most of the time.
At the Civil Rights Summit in Austin this week, there were some prominent Democrats who surveyed the landscape and admitted that things are, in fact, much different now than they were in the early 1960s.
Things have changed.
That was the message delivered during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act on Wednesday.
Rep. John Lewis, a prominent figure in the civil rights struggle, said there is probably no greater symbol of that change than the fact that he was introducing Barack Obama, the country’s first black president.
The president himself mostly used the occasion of his speech to make a case for the Executive Branch doing whatever it wants. As he is surrounded by nothing but yes-men, no one bothered to point out that he was making the case for unilateral executive action by praising LBJ’s skills as a legislator, but that’s for another post.
Getting back to the subject at hand, this was President Obama’s assessment:
However flawed our leaders, however flawed our politics, Obama said, “the story of America is the story of progress.”
Yeah, it can be a hot mess much of the time, but we make it work. It’s never perfect but it’s always better than the alternatives offered elsewhere around the globe.
An African-American civil rights legend praised the progress we have made as he introduced an African-American president who did the same.
Restrictions on voting rights in conservative states endanger the core of the U.S. civil rights movement and force Americans to recreate “a yesterday we’re better off done with,” former President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday.
Speaking to a crowd of students and activists in Austin, Texas, Clinton slammed new voting laws that require photo IDs, make voting harder for students, or otherwise tighten up access to the polls.
“We all know what this is about,” Clinton said at a gathering called the Civil Rights Summit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson presidential library. “This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it.”
The complaints about the Supreme Court decision from last year make sense only if you believe that we have made no progress whatsoever on race in the last fifty years and that only the strong arm of the law, rather than a monumental shift in attitudes, enabled Barack Obama to ascend to the Oval Office.
In Bubba’s version of the story, America is a festering bed of racism that is only being saved from 24/7 Klan rides by some fragile legislation. If there are any changes to that legislation then-POOF!-a time machine instantly transports you to 1964.
It’s sheer insanity. And it is a lie.
Bill Clinton is an elder of the Democratic establishment so he doesn’t see people, he sees voting blocs labeled by race and ethnicity that need to be frightened in order to be properly manipulated for electoral purposes. It’s his job to tell the faceless demographic blocs he sees that the Republicans are just one election away from rolling back the history of everything. It’s a story so riddled with logical inconsistencies that one wonders how anybody with an IQ over 7 would believe it.
The Democrats, however, have gotten so good at storytelling the past twenty five years or so that they can hold an entire summit to celebrate something and feature a beloved ex-president telling them it’s all an illusion.