The reason you never want to see the camel’s nose under the tent is because the rest of the camel is soon going to follow.
Some of our more contentious political issues seem to be about camels noses. They are foregone conclusions. They are issues like ratchets that can only go forward. Some are like the “mega-trends” popular in the 90’s. It makes me wonder if there is room to trade off some of these, each side admit defeat where, frankly, it happened long ago, and move on.
To start with a camel’s nose under liberals’ tent… ANWAR. Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is futile. The reason is that as public opinion swings this way or that, there will come a point, eventually, where we lose. And we only have to lose once. One single loss and decades upon decades of struggle to protect ANWAR will be permanently, forever undone. We cannot prevent this from happening. We might be able to stave it off for years or decades, but sooner or later it will be riddled with oil wells. We need to accept this.
A camel’s nose under the conservatives’ tent is equal protection under the law. Setting aside affirmative action, the trend is quite clear. Marriage, to the degree that it involves a state issued license, is going to protect gay and lesbian couples as well as straight couples. Landlords are not going to be allowed to discriminate against gays or minorities. Women’s salaries are going to catch up to men’s and women are going to achieve the power, control, and wealth that they deserve. Discrimination in hiring, employment, promotion, retirement, etc. is going to increasingly be a thing of the past and government measures will be increasingly sophisticated and strident to make this so. These things will sooner or later amount to cultural changes such that discrimination on the basis of just about anything other than ability will be anathema to all organizations, including churches. This genie is out of the bottle and it isn’t going back in.
Why don’t we trade? Why don’t we admit defeat on ANWAR since we know we’re going to lose it at some point anyway, in exchange for conservatives allowing the Department of Labor to extend their anti-discrimination enforcement to any identifiable demographic whatsoever. If organizations can’t prove that there is a statistically meaningful basis for discriminating on any factor, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it. For example, if the DOL found that in a given company tall people, thin people, pretty people, white people, ivy league people, male people, straight people, etc. are hired more, paid more, or promoted more and the company can’t demonstrate statistically solid evidence that those people are more productive than others… they get penalized.
Seems to me this would be a fair trade. I’ll drill the first hole up in Alaska if Boehner will get legislation passed and signed limiting discrimination in all areas of law and business to rational skills and abilities.