This morning, the local paper in my county published some op-eds on the Floyd protests from hard-right elected officials. Every elected official here is a wingnut, and almost all are white men.
The columns are uniformly horrible. After some throat-clearing about the shitty treatment black citizens have faced for hundreds of years, most lectured readers about looting and violence being unacceptable responses. But what struck me is that every single one — including the column from the wingnut sheriff — straight-up said Mr. Floyd was murdered by that cop in Minnesota.
That it was obviously a murder is evident to anyone who saw the video, of course. But other on-camera police murders we’ve seen over the years were obvious too. What changed?
Four years ago, I don’t think the local wingnuts would have publicly admitted the obvious. Now, it’s a preamble before the law and order lecture. They’re not better people. They’ll still vote for Trump in November. But maybe the Trump administration’s relentless awfulness has had an effect. And on some level, maybe these local politicians are responding to that.
For years, I’ve hoped the U.S. would experience a political epiphany the way California seems to have done. I’ve hoped we’d come to a realization that Republicans are so irredeemably awful and irresponsible and harmful to the majority that they can’t be trusted with power.
I know it wasn’t that simple in California, and there was backsliding along the way. There are still Devin Nuneses and Kevin McCarthys. But the anti-immigrant Prop 187 thing — which passed by a hefty margin! — and subsequent public revulsion and soul-searching seem to have played a role in turning Reaganland stubbornly blue.
Change happens that way sometimes. People collectively do a very stupid and awful thing that makes you lose all hope, then they pull back from the brink and make progress. Looking west again, it’s almost unimaginable to me now that California passed Prop 8 to ban gay marriage just 12 years ago. Then they — and we — did the right thing.
So, my optimistic thought for today is that perhaps the Trump awfulness is what it took to turn the tide. Maybe this shit-show will galvanize the remnants of decency in this country.
Maybe like the Prop 187 fallout, Trump’s racist demagoguery, his gross Confederate worshipers crawling out from under their rocks, his lackeys in Congress licking his tiny wingtips, etc., will prompt some soul-searching in the portion of the country that doesn’t thrive on cruelty. Perhaps collectively, if not individually, we’ll be better people after this nightmare is over.
Or maybe not. But a gal can California dream, right? Open thread!