Frum: Progressives Looking Backward
David Frum makes some interesting points. First, about the resurrection about the ERA:
Back in the 1970s, ERA was defeated by a grassroots organizing campaign led by Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly deployed many arguments against the ERA, and one of the most effective was that ERA would authorize same-sex marriage. At the time, this argument drove ERA proponents wild with fury. They denounced it as hysterical exaggeration, an attempt a common-sense bid for women’s rights by attributing to it extreme consequences that would never be countenanced by an American court.
A quarter century later, we can see that Schlafly was absolutely right. In states with local ERAs, same-sex marriage advocates have often argued in court that the ban on sex discrimination required state courts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. That argument was accepted by the supremem court of Hawaii until overturned by a state constitutional amendment.
If this ERA movement goes forward, it will be curious to watch same-sex marriage advocates abruptly pivot from their past support for federalism and decentralization.
There’s no slippery slope here! More from, er, Frum:
We’ve been hearing since November about the resurgence of the progressive left – the new enthusiasm, the new energy, the new organizations, the new commitment. Amidst all these exciting novelty, there is only one thing lacking: new ideas. The resurgent “progressive” movement is the most backward-looking political force since William Jennings Bryan tried to repeal the industrial revolution. Their big issues – a government healthcare monopoly! do away with secret union ballots! and now … ERA! – date respectively to the 1940s, the 1930s, and the 1970s.
It’s just bizarre to tune into blogosphere debates to watch freshfaced 20-somethings passionately champion, as if just invented, policy proposals that were old when their grandparents were young. If this is progressiveness, what would reaction look like?
It’s not really fair to describe the resurgence of old liberal ideas as “backwards-looking.” After all, it’s not as though we once had universal health care and an equal rights amendment, discarded them, and now some buffoons want to bring them back.
I think you’ll find there are, in the details, plenty of new ideas. It’s true that the central ideas of liberalism aren’t that new; in fact, they’re classics: equality, fairness, and honesty.