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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Change is the new normal

March 2, 2014

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President Clinton?

Maybe, if Democratic voters have their way. While the Republican faithful are split between a number of contenders and not particularly enthusiastic about any of them, a new poll finds Democrats overwhelmingly united behind a Hillary Clinton candidacy for 2016. A commanding 82 percent of the party, according to the CBS News/New York Times poll, wants to see her run.

It is, of course, way too early to be taking polls seriously. But perhaps an observer can nevertheless be forgiven for being heartened at the prospect of a Clinton campaign, much less a Clinton victory. Either would send a much-needed message to those who are still waiting for America to get back to normal.

You know the definition of “normal,” right? A world wherein straight, white Christian men still call all the shots. That world has been under assault for the last 50 years and the pressure has only increased in the last 10 as gay people roll back restrictions of their human rights, as a black man with an exotic name makes an improbable ascent to the presidency, as a woman positions herself to make the same climb.

The political right has responded with apoplexy, a temper tantrum of epic proportions:

On gay rights, for instance, we are seeing attempts to re-institute honest-to-Bull Connor Jim Crow, laws legalizing discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Meantime, the aforementioned black president has endured a nearly unprecedented barrage of resistance and name calling from right-wingers who long ago decided to render the country ungovernable rather than let him govern it. Indeed, just the other day, GOP spokesman Ted Nugent called the president a “subhuman mongrel” and one was only surprised that one was not surprised.

Which brings us to the woman who would be president. Given what we’ve seen thus far, you have to wonder, albeit with sickened fascination, what they will do to her — especially since she’s already one of the more polarizing political figures of the last quarter century.

If she sheds a tear, will they say she is too emotional for such a tough job? Or that she’s using femininity for political gain? Will she be allowed to have an opinion on reproductive rights, domestic violence or income inequality or will they say she’s playing the “gender card”? Who will be the first pundit to use the “b” word, comment upon her figure or crack a rape joke?

Not to reduce Clinton to the sum of her chromosomes. If she runs, she ought to be subjected to adversarial questions about her politics, plans and programs just as anybody else would be, and elected, if at all, because voters decide she is the best person for the job, period.

No, the point is only that if it does happen, if Democrats run her and if she wins, it would provide a useful lesson for a part of the electorate badly in need of same. This temper tantrum, this screaming and crying and stamping of feet that now passes for dialogue on the political right, springs from nothing more or less than a denial of change, a refusal to accept the fact that you cannot squeeze the paste back into the tube, and that those who were once stuck in the closet, relegated to the back of the bus or kept in the kitchen have freed themselves from those constraints and will not go back again.

There could no better way to make the point than to follow the first African-American president with the first woman president. And who knows? Maybe the president after that will be gay — and a Republican.

And maybe then, finally, this temper tantrum against social change would end with the belated recognition that change comes, regardless. We are forging a new American paradigm, and there will be no “getting back” to normal.

We’re already there.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

Comments

Leslie Swearingen 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I totally agree. I would like to see Ms. Clinton win but I fear that will mean years of nothing getting done because all the proposals she wants to advance will be automatically shot down.

James Howlette 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Then we better make sure we also elect people who won't shut her down.

Abdu Omar 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, Leslie, "it will be the goal of every republican to ensure that Mrs. Clinton is a one term president". This was the most disterous comment made by the republicans I have ever heard. Well to tell the truth (and most republicans reject this), Mr. Obama is President of all of the USA not just blue states or the democratic party and so would Mrs. Clinton. It is time that once the campaign is over and the people have spoken, we get behind the president, who ever that may be, and support the USA to become a better place to live.

Mike Ford 9 months, 2 weeks ago

bobgazi happened because the gop believes in cutting finds to everything including funding the defense of embassies. wasn't the gop isolationists at one time or another in the twentieth century? when a political party is elected by uneducated and opinion educated voters to do nothing and subjugate progress by another party they should be held accountable for their actions. after all the gop these days is about taking the wheels off the car and putting on blocks and getting their uneducated constituency to blame the people whose progress they're stifling at the expense of embassies and the whole country for that matter. blame the poltical children whose only word is "no".

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