The Lesson of This Week: We're Sick of the Past

It's rare that you get to feel like you live in a moment of real change. Oh, sure, there will be some documentary down the line that will proclaim that this decade "changed everything." That's kind of a bullshit thing. Every decade changes everything (see CNN's series on the 1960s and now the 1970s). Time works that way. In fact, the failure of some to recognize that everything changes is one of the only consistencies throughout the years.

This week, the American people and the Supreme Court and President Obama declared the past done. Obviously, we need to learn from the past. But the idea is that you learn from it and then move forward. You don't pretend it didn't happen. And you sure as shit don't live in it. You live now, with an eye to the future. Otherwise we're damned to repeat.

We didn't damn ourselves this week. Oh, no. Quite clearly, the zeitgeist of the nation is that we are fucking sick of those who want to try to drag us backwards. Fuck them. Fuck that.

The easiest, most obvious example is the nearly blindingly fast pivot on the Confederate flag and other public displays of pride in the Americans who rebelled against the United States to defend slavery. From people finally admitting that they are ashamed of their slave-owning ancestors (or the ones who aided and abetted slavery) to the Mayor of New Orleans calling for the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee from Lee Circle, we have quickly reached a point where anyone justifying their love of the Confederacy is seen as a racist asshole deserving of contempt.

And the Supreme Court this week had bad news for Americans who want things to go backwards. No, sorry, go fuck yourself, it said, we're not going back to the savage healthcare system we had before the Affordable Care Act (which, yes, is not perfect, but is a helluva lot better than it was). And your religious beliefs from the past aren't worth two gerbil shits when it comes to recognition of the right of two consenting adults to marry. If the only thing you have to defend your goddamned mean dumbness is "That's the way it's always been done," then you have nothing.

These next few days are going to be overloaded with overheated rhetoric from the right-wing commentariat, all trying desperately to drag us back into their cruel, racist, homophobic past. We will hear about how God wants things, as if that has jackshit to do with how we create our laws. We will hear about constitutional amendments, which is the only way to change what the Supreme Court did (and, yes, the Supreme Court is the final word on the Constitution as it exists today). We will hear hysteria and moaning from people who are watching as the past, their past, the past they have clung to and believed in and lived for is murdered right before their eyes by the vicissitudes of progress. They are becoming isolated, these past-clingers, and they have revealed themselves as, at best, useless or, at worst, destructive.

Finally, let us exult, briefly, before we righteously criticize him again, that the transformative legacy of President Obama was affirmed this week. As he said in his interview with Marc Maron, which was released on Monday, you cannot deny that the country is a better place than it was before he took office. If you try, you are lying. We voted for the man, most of us twice, and, damn, some days it's good to feel proud of that. Let's enjoy that for a moment before we remember, oh, yeah, drone war and banker-coddling.

The future is ahead, with all the hard work it takes to get there. Onward.