Boo! Yay! Boo! Yay!
The past 48 hours have been a emotional roller coaster to say the least. Voting rights get a body blow. Gay rights get a huge boost. Women are attacked (again) in Texas, then defended, but just barely. Whoa. Head officially spinning.
All of these fights are not the same though. It might be easy to put these all in the same category of civil rights, which they are. However, some of these rights have to do with economic power and some don’t. And economic justice is really the final frontier. Voting relates to economic justice. Who you elect can have a lot of power to set the rules of the economic game to favor the wealthy over the middle class and poor–or to make the game fair. Reproductive rights and marriage mostly don’t affect your economic power. Of course, poor women and poor queer couples are always behind the 8 ball and are worse off when they don’t have the rights of those of another gender. But really, they are still behind the 8 ball even when they have the same rights, if they are still disenfranchised from the economic system.
Anyway, all of this reminded me of a great Radio Times that I heard with Marty Moss Coane and author George Packer last week. Packer recently wrote a book called, “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.” The thesis of the book is that as we gain social freedoms, we are losing economic opportunity. The gap between the rich and poor gets greater, while the gaps between gender and race are getting smaller. The two trends are not necessarily related, but the phenomenon does beg the question: How much do our civil right really matter in a world where only a very small percentage of people have all the economic power? I think it’s an interesting question, and it certainly makes me think about my priorities in which fights I really care about.