Jonathan Bernstein makes an excellent point about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell:
[T]his issue will now promptly go away, entirely. Oh, we'll have a bit of reporting on implementation, but seriously: does anyone think that Republicans are going to run in 2012 on re-instating DADT? Or, even less plausibly, on re-instating the ban that DADT replaced? Forget it. It's possible to believe that a DADT vote could be used in a GOP primary down the road, but it's utterly implausible to believe that the policy would ever be revived, no matter what happens in the 2012 (or any future cycle) elections.
With the possible exception of John McCain, pretty much every conservative knew they were going to lose this argument eventually. And many of them know they're going to lose the argument on marriage equality, too. As Jon Chait asks, "it was only six years ago that Republicans used the bogeyman of gay marriage to help win a presidential election. Does anybody expect that to happen again?"
Outside of some local issues and races in the South, we've reached a point where The Gay Menace just doesn't have much political potency anymore. Not that that means the culture war will disappear and all we'll talk about is economics forevermore. We've still got the anti-Muslim culture war (Rep. Peter King, the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will be holding hearings on the threat posed by American Muslims, which should be a veritable hate-apalooza). And there's always the War On Secularism. Truth is, the culture war never ends, it just shifts its focus. A hundred years from now, we'll be arguing about whether advocates of the Robot Citizenship Act of 2111 hate God and America and everything we believe in.
But it's never bad to remind ourselves that with the important exception of abortion rights, the culture war moves in only one direction, and that direction is the one progressives want. In all of the spheres the culture war touches on, we're a more progressive country than we used to be. Gay people can serve in the military, women can own property, beating children is generally frowned-upon, and so on. You can say that's simply the march of modernity, but whatever you want to call it, it's a long line of victories for progressives values.
And as a bonus to the weekend's developments, this group of bigots need never be heard from again.
-- Paul Waldman
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