In 2008, Barack Obama met with a fundamentalist preacher during his presidential campaign, to state his opposition to same sex marriage. The most liberal candidate in recent history felt supporting same sex marriage was politically dangerous just 7 years ago. This week when the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same sex marriage was protected in the Constitution, it was the expected outcome. And the vast majority of businesses, politicians and citizens saluted the decision. The White House was lit in rainbow colors. From Impossible to Inevitable in 7 years.
I grew up in the country hunting, fishing and shooting guns. Even in our conservative region in “the good old days” we still never imagined that all citizens would someday have the right to carry loaded weapons, concealed or open in holsters, in nearly every public setting. Yet today every state is required by Supreme Court ruling to allow public possession of firearms, including concealed carry. From Unthinkable to Unstoppable.
What these two remarkable developments have in common is an organized, passionate group taking sustained political action. In both cases, citizens mobilized into a political force over decades, raising money and more importantly wielding the votes to threaten candidates’ and politicians’ careers if they didn’t support and advance their issues. Gay Rights and Gun Rights activists didn’t get discouraged or give up until they achieved their goals. It’s impossible to deny the effectiveness of their determination.
American Citizens are almost universally disgusted with American Government. This is one sentiment where the left, right and center actually agree! But we typically say we can’t do anything about government waste of taxpayers money, inefficiency, bloat, bullying citizens, corruption, unethical behavior and other problems. We say “that’s just the way it is” and it will never change. Or we feel we can just vote in “our guys” without changing the rules of the system. History shows that tactic does not solve the dysfunction.
Whether we agree or disagree with the hard fought triumphs of the Gay Rights and Gun Rights movements, their victories show this fatalistic attitude about improving our society is simply a cop out. What’s more important than wise use of taxpayer dollars and the integrity of our leaders? Citizens can clearly seize power if enough people care and put in a sustained effort. We have the power to step up and make things better.
Do we just like to complain, or do we actually want to change our nation and world for the better? Whatever you care about, don’t cop out and say it can’t be done. This week’s Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage is just one example proving that’s not true!
As dysfunctional as our politics have become, Citizens in our Republic are still in control of our own destiny. But in politics as in business, success takes hard work and persistence.
Read more about how same sex marriage triumphed in Slate.
Amazing things can be done when people care.