Progress

Amanda Terkel at Huffpost has an interesting article about a possible platform fight over same sex marriage at the Democratic National Convention.

Even some Democrats who support same sex marriage, like Maryland governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate, Martin O’Malley, worry that the issue could distract from staying “focused on jobs.” All of this, of course, is made trickier because of President Obama’s still “evolving” position on the issue.

The idea of a platform fight seems as quaint as the era of black and white televisions from which they last occurred. Democrats had a platform fight about Vietnam in 1968 and a platform fight about abortion and gay rights in 1972.

But, looking at all of this thru the long lens of human rights history and the Democratic party, this is very mild stuff. Nobody is going to bolt the party. Nobody thinks the issue of same sex marriage is one that will destroy the country, or traumatize western civilization. Everybody, in fact, including the president, probably supports same sex marriage. Yes, party officials are trying to “manage” the issue, but they are working with gay rights advocates as colleagues who share the same values. And this is a natural and classic tension, not an ideological crisis.

Contrast that to 1924. The KKK controlled roughly half of the delegates to the Democratic convention. And–think of this for a second–a platform plank that would have condemned the Klan was DEFEATED at that convention. And in 1948, Strom Thurmond–not the crusty, cuddly old hornball we remember from the end of his time in the Senate, but a full blown racist demagogue at the peak of his powers–led Southerners out of the convention to protest a plank that would have opposed lynching and supported the integration of public schools.

This time, nobody is walking out, and nobody is championing the violent bigotry of white supremacy or any other bigotry. It’s not quite good enough yet, but the struggle to transform what once seemed unthinkably dangerous and weird into the humanely quotidian continues to progress.