I have been thinking for quite some time that the demagogues on the right have been overplaying their hands on immigration and Islamophobia. I have been hoping that this is more of Obama's rope-a-dope strategy--give the dopes enough rope to hang themselves. Is this just wishful thinking? At a time where economic trends are pretty depressing, where there are lots of real problems with difficult choice sets, it is perhaps easy to rely upon fear and blame-casting. But is it good politics?
That is, we may find that short term polling indicates that many Americans will buy into Islamophobia, but will this really lead to support for the Republicans this fall and beyond? How do we reconcile these polls registering intolerance (and fundamentally anti-American attitudes) with other polls that suggest progressive attitudes winning? Gay marriage is more popular than ever! Ok, that is a bit much, but more Americans are supporting the right of gays to marry than ever before.
I pondered last night with my wife--did the Prop 8 folks fall into a trap or at least generate unintentional consequences? By restricting the rights of a minority, these folks created opportunities for that minority to seek redress through the courts. If this goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which is now very likely, it may (just may, no certainty) lead the Court to rule that equal protection under the law requires non-discrimination against gay marriage. And wouldn't that be ironic/karmic for the voices of intolerance to spark a process that leads to greater tolerance? Or am I wishful thinking again?
One last note of irony--there is now a small movement to alter the 14th Amendment that grants American citizenship to all those born on US territory. The funny thing is that it causes folks to overlook the real power of this amendment: Equal Protection. This amendment is now rivaling the 1st Amendment as my personal favorite.