Opinion » Editorial

Fireworks Ahead


This issue of the Flyer precedes a 4th of July weekend, and the revolutionary impulses that attended the birth of this nation 239 years ago will be symbolically re-enacted in thousands of fireworks shows across the country and here in Memphis.

This time of year has often witnessed turbulent, world-changing events — the American declaration of independence and the start of the French Revolution, both in July, being only two of many. And the period leading up to this year's observance of Independence Day has certainly provided an astonishing sequence of political fireworks.

Whatever deluded impulse provoked a young racist assassin to gun down nine innocent African Americans in a church two weeks ago in Charleston, South Carolina, his unspeakable action generated nationwide grief and outrage and an apparent determination to do away with the remaining barriers to some form of racial reconciliation in this country. That would seem to include the physical vestiges of nostalgia for the Confederacy, at least in places of official sanction. And for those among us, many good of heart, who find this thought unbearable, let us merely point to the extraordinary transitions that have occurred in recent years at the University of Mississippi, which has managed to divest itself of such outmoded symbolism with no great loss to local pride or alumni loyalty.

Simultaneous with this development has been a landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the recognition of same-sex marriage throughout the 50 states. It is fair to say that no prior ruling of the court, not even its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision mandating desegregation of schools, has had the transformative effect that is implicit in Obergefell v. Hodges, with its stripping away of long-standing stigma.

And, though it was destined to be overshadowed in pyrotechnic intensity, the Supreme Court's ruling one day earlier in the case of King v. Burwell may have long-range consequences just as lasting as any of the aforementioned by quashing a technical and pedantic challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

"Obamacare Cheats Death Again" was the headline of an emailed lament to his constituents this week from state Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown, who has been in the vanguard of the legislative effort to forestall the ACA in this state, including Insure Tennessee, the Medicaid-expansion proposal by Governor Bill Haslam to channel billions of dollars into the state for the relief of Tennessee's financially beleaguered hospitals.

Kelsey's text, wherein he vowed to fight on legislatively, conceded it would do no good "to continue to file lawsuits" against the ACA. Kelsey and other opponents of the ACA such as Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, may delay the inevitable, but Obamacare would seem to be here to stay.

And that's yet another of the several revolutions that are under way as of July 4, 2015.

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