Beware the Backlash

bevin2As Americans approach the next general election, unsettling signs are becoming evident across the country.

During the six and a half years that Barack Obama has occupied the White House, he has spearheaded a movement toward enlightenment. And during that time, American society has changed significantly.

The election – and reelection – of the first black President blazed the trail for changes that are transforming American society.

All Americans cannot yet expect equal treatment under the law. But with the President’s recent executive order releasing thousands of minor offenders from absurdly harsh prison sentences, for example, the society is moving in that direction.

Step by step, widespread reform has been taking place.

Several states have liberalized marijuana laws. The Supreme Court has made it possible for Americans to marry whomever they love, regardless of gender. Gays serve openly in the military.

Affordable health insurance is available to millions who were previously excluded, including people with preexisting conditions.

But it has not been easy. Change brings resistance. Progress brings resentment. Vested interests are inevitably impacted. And many people feel threatened as the old ways are shoved aside and unfamiliar patterns of behavior emerge.

I suspect there is a backlash that could have ominous implications for next years’ elections.

According to the pundits, there is a revolt across America against “politics as usual.” Income inequality is being blamed, of course.

President Obama managed to steer the country’s economy away from the brink of disaster –  a legacy of the Bush administration. But America’s middle class missed out on the recovery. They have fallen woefully behind while corporations and the rich have grown ever more wealthy.

Of course, it was the Republicans in Congress who blocked every effort the President made to level the economic playing field. But apparently, the voters – and the media – have forgotten this.

And I think there’s more to the revolt than income inequality.I suspect there is also a social revolt. For example, last night’s election results included:

  • The upset win by right-wing zealot Matt Bevin (above) in the Kentucky governor’s race, and the defeat of Democrats throughout the state.
  • Rejection in Houston of a bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of race, age, military status, disability and various other categories.
  • Resounding defeat of a ballot initiative in Ohio to legalize recreational and medical use of marijuana. (Yes, one reason for the initiative’s defeat was that it would have given exclusive growing rights to 10 facilities across the state, all owned by investors in the legalization movement. But that was not the only reason.)

Do voters blame the Democratic President – and Democrats in general – for the changes that are making so many of them uneasy, and for their failure to share in the nation’s economic recovery?

It ‘s beginning to look that way.

Click for the Houston vote.

Click for more on the elections.