Sunday, December 30, 2012

Frida Ghitis: America On The Cusp Of Social Change

In a commentary that all progressives will welcome, columnist and author Frida Ghitis (left) writes that after a prolonged reactionary period, America is undergoing major, positive changes regarding gun control, progressive taxation, gay marriage and marijuana legalization:

The United States is reassessing matters that many thought had been settled. It wasn't very long ago that the views from the most conservative elements of the political establishment dominated the social agenda.

...Today, a majority of Americans -- 57% -- favor stricter gun control, jumping sharply from 39% just a few months ago. That's bad news for the most conservative elements in society, who think the government should stand back from almost every aspect of our lives.

But the truly radical transformation has come in the area of gay rights. For the first time, Gallup Polls show a majority of Americans support full marriage equality for gay couples. That's an astonishing change. But it's not as astonishing as the wholesale acceptance of gay people that has suffused American society in the last few years.

...Attitudes are changing in other ways that seemed unthinkable not long ago. Who would have thought Americans would favor legalizing drugs? Two-thirds of voters under age 30 support legalizing pot, bringing the overall total to 51%, and giving a boost to referendum campaigns on the issue.

The wisdom of lowering taxes also dominated for many years, but no more. Three-quarters of Americans agree it makes sense to make the tax system more progressive, raising the burden on the wealthy. What exactly "wealthy" means is still unclear. And, as in all the other areas of change, the battle to transform those majority views into law will be hard-fought.

With just a few days before the start of 2013, the issues facing America are serious, the disagreements are intense, and the range of views is wide. And yet, the country is facing its choices with nervous anticipation. Something is happening in America.

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