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As Long as We Remember...

July 6, 2012

Latest Social Brouhaha

Roy Meachum

Past 20th Century attempts to revolutionize American society were incendiary, to say the least. I missed Prohibition. My memory of the failed Noble Experiment was tinged by the man who married cousin Madie, like an aunt to me. The Northern Louisiana stockyard-dealer presented hands that were really claws, burnt off by drinking canned heat.


Because I sold The Saturday Evening Post, mother obtained a Social Security card for me, at the age of eight. Almost simultaneously the act went up before the Supreme Court. Associate Justice Owen Roberts cast the deciding vote upholding the law. By the way, he was not related to Chief Justice John Roberts, whose decision brought the loud protests from conservatives, echoing the noisy reaction to Associate Justice Roberts, in 1937.


The Civil Rights Act came along the election year Lyndon Baines Johnson was challenged by Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater. As a performing arts consultant to LBJ’s White House, the president and I were both deep Southerners who felt alike about integration. His signature came on July 2, 1964, days after the murders of three workers near Philadelphia, MS. Anyway, Mr. Johnson won in November; the next several years he buttressed the Civil Rights movement to the degree that no government could revert to segregation. But they’ve tried, as recently as this summer.


Barack Obama’s plan to extend health benefits to all Americans passed the Congress when Democrats controlled both chambers. After the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans took over the House of Representatives with the announced intention of reversing “Obamacare,” as they termed it. In this GOP county, there are a lot of opponents. But the most fierce in Washington is probably Rep. Paul Ryan; he has competition under the Capitol dome. But the Wisconsin Republican claims America cannot afford the cost. He labors hard to prove that point.


Like Prohibition, Social Security and Civil Rights, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, affirmed by the Supreme Court. Erosion affected the Republican almost immediately. Representative Ryan felt the impact; his insistence on depriving children of eligibility on their parents’ insurance went over like a ton of bricks in the halls of Congress, especially the GOP side.


As everybody must know, the issue was decided by the Supreme Court last week and not in the GOP’s favor. The decisive nod came from Chief Justice Robert, which surprised conservatives who made a big noise; he was appointed by George W. Bush. There are all kinds of stories about their plotting revenge. But since the court’s decision, approval has edged up among the public. There will be more general support in the future, I figure, based on the past.


To escape right-wing heat, Chief Justice Roberts went off to the island of Malta to give invited legal talks. When he returns in two weeks, the brouhaha will stay as tumbling as ever. He cannot change his vote affirming his Affordable Care decision. Meanwhile, the real test comes in November’s national elections, involving not only the administration but a third of the U.S. Senate and all of the House of Representatives.


Favor is not in the GOP corner. They won big in the mid-term voting, which is when Republicans gained domination in the House. History is very clear on that score. Americans have generally repudiated the last election. The current surveys have President Obama leading Gov. Mitt Romney, and they were taken before the Supreme Court decision last week.


Regarding the record of social brouhahas, the latest will settle down while the legalizing of same-sex marriages boils away.


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