I’ve dedicated a good portion of my life to following politics. In just over two years I’ve written well over 2,000 articles on the topic, and dedicated countless hours to discussions, debates and diatribes from pissed off conservatives. In that time I’ve experienced great victories, crushing defeats, moments of pure jubilation and moments of tremendous sorrow. As someone who cares about politics and policies, it’s a subject that can truly keep you on an emotional rollercoaster. There are moments where I’ve never been more proud to do what I do and days where I literally have to keep from throwing my laptop into the wall.
But I’m not sure if I’ve ever witnessed anything like we’ve seen in this country over the last 10 or so days.
Sadly, it started with a horrific tragedy on June 17 when nine African-Americans were brutally gunned down by a racist animal in what was one of the worst racially charged acts of violence we’ve seen in this country in a very long time. But even from that we saw something truly amazing that one might not expect to see so soon: Forgiveness.
Some of the families of those slain by this coward forgave him in a moment that gave many goosebumps. Instead of giving this racist domestic terrorist what he wanted, they took that power away from him and those like him. They weren’t going to help feed the hate and anger that had consumed him and those who share his views.
And from this tragedy we’ve finally witnessed something that’s 150 years long overdue: The downfall of the Confederate battle flag.
Finally, after a century and a half of representing one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history filled with racism and treason, this flag is now being treated as the symbol of hate that most of us have known it to be for a long time. It’s a testament to ignorance and racism that it took 150 years and the brutal slaying of nine African-Americans in the name of hate to finally bring down a flag that should have vanished from our society the moment the South raised the only flag that really mattered – the white flag of surrender.
Then we had two massively historic days for our Supreme Court.
First we saw (for the second time) the Supreme Court save the Affordable Care Act from the continued and relentless attempts by Republicans to sabotage this law. In one ruling the court saved health care for millions of Americans and kept in place a law that will assuredly provide health care for millions more in the coming years.
Then the next day, in a ruling celebrated by pretty much everybody except bigots, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. There’s really no detailed explanation needed to go along with this other than to simply say what others have already said: Love won and willful ignorance lost.
But on that very same day President Obama gave the eulogy for one of the victims of the Charleston shooting, Rev. Clementa Pinckney. While his speech was nothing short of amazing, the president breaking out and literally singing the song Amazing Grace will go down as one of the most memorable moments in U.S. presidential history.
While we’ve had singular events happen in this country that altered our course (ending slavery, women’s suffrage, the end of World War II, the Civil Rights Act, 9/11), I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen such a condensed series of events play out like we have over these last several days.
Though, despite it all, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Racism isn’t going away anytime soon, the Confederate flag is still defended by millions, Republicans will continue to try to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and conservative states are already looking for ridiculous loopholes to block same-sex marriages from taking place.
Oh, and there were those who were “offended” by President Obama’s singing of Amazing Grace – because, of course.
As history has shown us time and time again at these pivotal moments in our country, while ignorance and bigotry may win a few battles to delay the inevitable, it always loses. And looking back at the last 150 years, it’s essentially the same parts of this country that always find themselves on the wrong side of history.
So while acknowledging the huge amount of work that still needs to be done and the conversations that still need to be had, I don’t hesitate in saying that I fully believe these 10 days, from the horrific to the incredible, have forever changed this nation.