I make a point each morning to catch up on news. It is part of what I do to stay informed of things that shape the world I have to live in. Two areas of concern for me are: “Separation of Church and State” and “Marriage Equality”.
These issues have been debated for decades, of course, and most conservatives simply refuse to be educated on either the facts OR social conscience. One of their frequent ‘dog whistles’ used for rallying sheeple support is the way they throw around the term “special interest group” and the term “agenda”.
Instead of moving forward into the 19th Century, they dig in their heels and whine about having to give “special rights” to “special interest groups”. It’s just another way to dismiss people as “other”. But that is not a valid argument.
I’m not going to argue the issue here. Conservatives are wrong, they know they are wrong, and they know they deserve to be on the receiving end of what they’ve been dishing out. That is a given, beyond debate.
No, what I am going to do is eliminate the issue of “special interests” and “agendas” when used as a way to dismiss the call for progress and action. It is very easy:
In all American history, has there been ANY progressive change in social policy, safety regulation, expansion of rights or protections that was NOT advanced by those most affected by the lack of protections? Has there been any changes without “special interest groups” taking the initiative to work for change?
The Americans with Disabilities Act came about because people with disabilities were not being treated fairly.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 came about because people of color were not being treated fairly.
Child Safety Seats, and the laws required them, came about because parents who had lost their children in car accidents spoke up and demanded better safety.
The 19th Amendment came about because women (and their allies) insisted on having the right to vote.*
And on and on and on. So when you hear people whine about “special interest groups” or radical gangs with their “agendas”, don’t assume people in that group are wrong — they are usually the ones who are right to speak up and bring change because nobody else will.
Not that other people are evil or bad, necessarily. Most people are simply unaware that changes need to be made because the things that need changing don’t affect them. When I was growing up, it didn’t occur to me that people with disabilities needed anything special.
So-called “special interest groups” are an essential part of American society, and usually they work to improve the lives of everyone. Of course, not all special interest groups are good (like, the NRA, or the Association of Christian Athletes, or the National Republican Party), but most of them are useful.
* it amuses me that they first had to pass Prohibition as the 18th Amendment, ratified on 16 Jan 1919, in order to get the men folk sober enough to get the 19th Amendment ratified on 18 Aug 1920. There was probably very little connection between the two in real life, but the sequence amuses me anyway.