I know a thing or three about being part of a minority group. When your birth certificate doubles as your membership card, you tend to spend a good bit of time observing minority-group and majority-group dynamics – whether you actually want to or not.
It also means I know a minority group when I see one.
Social conservatives, I’m looking at you.
Now, I know you guys aren’t feeling like minorities right now. You control both houses of Congress in Washington. And last week, your grip on the General Assembly allowed your folks in Raleigh to flush Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance, along with the transgender bathroom rights you found so offensive.
Yes, you are the political majority. But deep down, you also know this is true: You are a cultural minority.
And while a political majority can dissolve in a days’ worth of election returns, it takes generations to shift the culture. And, as you already know from America’s acceptance of gay marriage – or even a quick glance at what’s on TV nowadays – you’re losing badly on the culture-wars front.
The silent majority you so often speak of is really more of a loud minority. That’s why the battle over replacing arch-conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia means so much to you, why the prospect of yet another Democrat in the White House fills you with dread. You’ve already lost so much? When will it stop?
And so you’re angry. So angry you’ll put the angriest man you can find – a boorish, unpredictable bully of a New York billionaire – at the top of the Republican presidential ticket. So angry you’ll not only strike down transgender bathroom privileges in Charlotte, but you’ll strike all gays from protected status under state anti-discrimination law.
And, while you’re at it, might as well shut down all state lawsuits for workplace discrimination – by any minority group.
That’ll show them who’s boss. Right?
Wrong. If there’s one thing I know about navigating the minefield that is life in the minority, you don’t take what appears to be a small tactical opening and try to win back in 12 hours all the ground it took you decades to lose.
Because, as I suspect you’re now learning from the tidal wave of scorn hitting North Carolina, a hacked-off national majority is no fun to deal with.
You didn’t ask for my advice, but here it is anyway: Walk back that greedy cookie-grab of a law you passed in the short session. People might still be a little puzzled about transgender bathrooms, but they’re crystal clear overall on anti-gay discrimination: It’s out of bounds in modern life.
Does that mean you must give up your deeply-held religious beliefs? By no means! Diversity of belief makes America great. But recognize, for once, that the real goal is winning hearts and minds, not gerrymandered legislative districts.
It’s way harder, too.
Eric: (704) 358-5145; firstname.lastname@example.org.