Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from Ohio, in a complete break with the opinions he so strongly promulgated in the past, has changed his opinion on gay marriage. He now thinks it’s OK, since his son revealed that he is gay.
This revelation on his part made me realize that, with all the political and cultural division in the United States, there is a way to see which way the country is trending, which way the population is moving. There is a way of truly determining the will of the country, without the need for polls.
In order to truly tap into the general feelings of the country, you have to use a test that we used during the cold war.
Back then, anyone who suggested that the former Soviet Union was somehow a better place to live than the US; any time someone suggested that, just because it was a different way of life from ours, it was not necessarily a bad way of living; anyone who suggested that Communism and Capitalism were neither better nor worse than the other, just different, the question that would shut the conversation down was, “well, lots of people are defecting from the USSR to the USA, but how many are defecting back to the USSR?”
It was a reductive, disarming question, but it sharpened to crystal clarity the general feelings of the people in each country. The overwhelming trend was in one direction, but not back. There was no ambivalence. No need for a poll.
What does this have to do with Portman? Follow me on this one…
Mr. Portman is one more in a long line of people who have come from the more, for want of a better word, old-style way of living in society. (I’m trying to keep this apolitical). And I don’t see any moving back the other way. To wit:
In 1955, Rock-and-Roll was devil music, jungle music, the music of hoodlums. In time, it entered the main stream, and has never gone back.
In 1960, birth control was for loose women, baby-killers and generally used by the soft white underbelly of society. In time, it entered the main stream, and has never gone back.
In the fifties and sixties, equal rights of all races were frowned upon, rallied against and in some cases it was vowed that it would never be. In time, it entered the main stream, and has never gone back.
In the fifties and sixties, discrimination against women was defended as the natural order of things. Men fought to keep women in the home. Women’s liberation was a punch-line. In time, it entered the main stream, and has never gone back.
In 1968, questioning the morals and honesty of our political leaders was unheard of. It was considered insolent, impetuous, and un-patriotic. In time, it entered the main stream, and has never gone back.
Since then: Long hair on men, short skirts on women, acceptance of alternate lifestyles in society, gays in the military, gay marriage, women as equals in the workplace, women being entitled to equal pay, women in the military, acceptance of racial and ethnic diversity in our schools, our businesses, and government and, yes, a black President. And then, quite importantly, the re-election of that black President.
Now, a Latino pope.
None of this is not to say that there are not still some throw-backs to the days of the hula-hoop, corded phones and three TV channels with an antenna on the roof. Yes, there are some who throw tantrums, kicking and screaming for a return to the good-old-days, when straight, white men ran the world, cops, priests and politicians were above reproach, and owning a gun proved that you were a good guy.
Yes, there are some who still lag far behind the natural progression of intellect and compassion. There are some for whom being on the wrong side of history is still a badge of honor. They tend to start their arguments with, “Well all’s I know is…” apparently proud to display the boundaries of their synaptic wanderings.
To some, ignorance is more than bliss. It’s a freakin’ orgasm.
But just like I’ve yet to hear that someone from the US asked for asylum in North Korea, I’ve yet to hear a woman ask to return to second-class-citizen status, an African American asking to go back to the days of segregated schools, poll-taxes and lynchings, or women swearing off birth control in favor of the rhythm method. These issues are not bi-directional. Once they move, they stay moved.
The point is, those of you who are still holding out on these important issues, and the newer issues like gun control, abortion, gay marriage, and women’s rights, need to understand that the enlightened world will not continue to fight you forever. The rest of the world will give you lots of time to come around, but after some undefined period of time, will move on, with or without you.
And you will become something much worse than old-fashioned. You will become the worst thing any intellectually aware person could ever become. You will become irrelevant.
Rob Portman was smart enough to pick up on this at the last minute. It matters not that it was due to his son coming out. Either way, we welcome him.
Maybe soon another family member of Sen. Portman’s will admit that he’s poor and needs food stamps, or sick and can’t afford health care, or an undocumented immigrant who just wants a job, so that Sen. Portman might feel compassion for those people as well, just like he now does for gay people since his son came out.
Hey, we can only hope…