politics as lagging indicator

Dan Savage:

So for the record: Bill O'Reilly is now to the left of President Obama on DADT. And President Obama is to the right of Dan Choi and Bill O'Reilly and John Aravosis and me.

Just typing that made my head explode. I'm going to go get a restorative cupcake now.

I have a theory I've been toying around with, which probably bears more explanation than I can afford to give here and now, but it goes something like this: If you want to look at where the general attitude of a society about something is heading, you look at the arts and commerce (in reality, the former is a subset of the latter.) If you want to look at where it is, you just talk to (a large and hopefully representative sample of) people. If you want to know what has already changed, you look at politics.

I am sure that counterexamples exist (the federal government was almost certainly ahead of attitudes about civil rights for black people, at least in the south), but I think this is true about several of the issues where I see American society undergoing a pretty big shift in my lifetime, and homosexuality in particular.

1 comment:

Gino said...

politics is absolutely the lagging indicator.

like you mentioned, civil rights.
its done. jim crow and slavery will never be back.
but so much of what happens in politics is based upon somebody may have uttered a racial slur, or something else equally trivial.

(and yes, i think some fringer ranting about blacks and asians or whever is really pretty harmless in the bigger picture of deciding how well a group fares in this society.)

abortion is a similar one, as well.