In 2008, just days before the election, Barack Obama told a group of screaming followers that “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Earlier that year his wife, Michelle Obama, declared in May, “We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.” It only took the Mr. and Mrs. Obama seven years, but they have successfully turned a culturally conservative and Christian nation into one of the most progressive and liberal governments ever seen. Within a few weeks, and with the help of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Obamas have helped usher in the final nail on socialized health care, the legal affirmation of gay marriage, the illegality of requiring proof of U.S. citizenship to vote, and the bringing down of the Confederate battle flag. While there can be gray in how one feels about these issues, the undeniable fact is that America has become a new place, with new values and a new future. Any whiff of the 1980s Moral Majority is gone, and a new post-Christian era has been ushered in.
Obviously, the end of June has been a busy week for America. The Supreme Court made numerous impactive rulings that will be remembered and taught for years to come in humanities courses. Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 come to mind when thinking about landmark cases, and now add Obergefell v. Hodges (gay marriage), King v. Burwell (Obamacare) and Kobach v. Election Assistance Commission (voting rights) to the list of landmark cases changing the definition of marriage, the full acceptance of government-run health care, and the lack of proof of citizenship when voting.
While I never have believed modern America to be a “Christian” nation, I do believe we have been culturally a Christian nation. But throughout the Obama administration, our country’s cultural beliefs have changed dramatically. Even the evangelical church is no longer holding onto stronghold positions like gay marriage. Fox News reported that “According to the [Pew Research Center] study published June 8, 62 percent of white mainline Protestants and 56 percent of all Catholics support same-sex marriage. However, that support drops to 33 percent among black Protestants and 27 percent among white evangelical Protestants.” While there is a difference between what is “legal” and what is religiously “moral,” the idea that the majority of Christians would be for something that is recorded in both the Old and New Testaments extensively reveals much about the conservative end of the political wing.
Not only has gay marriage gained acceptance, but the death penalty has been outlawed in five states since Obama took office, and seven states since 2007. Currently, 19 states oppose the death penalty. Marijuana is legal in four states, and marijuana is legal for medical use or is decriminalized in 34 states, with only 12 states banning marijuana completely. But that will change soon as Obama is trying to create less stringent laws concerning drug use on a federal level with Republicans.
And Arizona and Kansas found out that they cannot require proof of citizenship when having potential voters file for the federal form allowing voting rights. What other nation allows for noncitizens to potentially vote in elections?
With all of that, the Confederate battle flag has been taken down and the rainbow flag has proudly gone up. While this might be good, my prediction is that the South will revolt, causing the next president a potentially Lincoln-size problem. Could we see another war over secession 150 years later?
And if you think the transformation is done, think again. Obama stated, “The list is long and my instructions to my team and my instructions to myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make as long as I have the privilege of holding this office.”
Bruce Jenner’s transformation has become almost like a foreshadowing metaphor for our current nation. A once Bruce Jenner nation has become a Caitlyn Jenner republic. Welcome to the new America, America. Or should I say, America 2.0?