Democracy is a dance where one leads, the other follows, but both are going in the same direction. When the wrong one leads, however, we find ourselves dancing backward, not only out of rhythm with the music, but veering off into very dangerous territory.
We’ve all seen the movie Footloose, so we know people with extreme opinions usually end up giving in to reason and Mother was no different. While she sent a note to school asking I be exempted from the 5th grade square dancing exercise, she later mellowed a bit. She was willing to tolerate ballet because, “it wasn’t provocative” (clearly, she never actually paid that much attention to any ballet), and when my younger brother finally got around to getting married, Mom was seen at his reception doing the Chicken Dance with her grandsons.
Still, it took our mother the entirety of her life to do that one dance. That two bodies would be so close, risking such intimacy and fueling all those raging emotions was just a bit much, in her opinion.
Dancing can be a metaphor for many different things. On one hand, it demonstrates two separate entities working toward a common goal. Dancing might also be aptly applied to delicate matters where each step must be carefully choreographed to avoid a negative outcome. “Dancing on air” implies grace and beauty. More popularly, perhaps, to “dance like no one’s watching,” is to live a life carefree, mindless of external criticism.
Dancing is sometimes an appropriate metaphor for the two-party system of representative democracy, such as what the United States theoretically enjoys; Two sides meet together, one leads, the other cooperates, and they both respond to the music in sympathetic rhythms resulting in a greater good. At least, in theory, that’s the way its supposed to work. Theories and reality don’t often match up too well and when we look at the current political landscape one has to wonder if the dancers are aware of the theory at all.
Dancing backward is perhaps a more apt comparison for our current situation. Couples dancing assumes one is the mutually-agreed-upon leader and while “following” may not be the best term for the other, responding in a rhythmically sympathetic manner keeps the couple moving in the same direction. When the person who is not the leader balks, however, the whole dance goes haywire. Instead of moving forward, toward a common goal, the uncooperative partner throws the couple off-balance, fails to respond appropriately to the music, and steers the couple away from where they need to go, moving backward instead of forward.
Looking at the news lately has been frustrating. When we shot the picture above, a mere two and a half years ago, American society seemed to be making progress. Same-gender relationships had reached a point where this picture wasn’t considered provocative at all by most who viewed it. Rather, I got questions asking whether this was a real couple (they’re not), and where the white dress was from (the model’s closet). We had a very nice picture of forward social progress; dancing nicely with the music.
Quick history note: on this day in 1919, Benito Mussolini formed the fascist movement in Milan, Italy. Keep that little fact in the back of your head; it may come in handy.
What has me concerned are news stories like these:
- Ted Cruse, vitriolic anti-LGBT rights US Senator from Texas, announced this morning that he is running for the GOP nomination for President.
- Jeb Bush, front runner for that same GOP nomination, told an Atlanta audience that included hip-hop artist Ludacris that he supports a business’s right to discriminate against LGBT persons.
- Indiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, and several other states are considering laws that would make it legal for businesses or individuals to discriminate against anyone, specifically but not limited to LGBT persons, based on the person’s religious beliefs, commonly referred to as “matters of conscience.” The Indiana state legislature votes on their bill today.
And then, to put icing on this ridiculous cake:
- California apparently cannot prevent a measure from appearing on its ballot this fall that would call for the outright murder of everyone exhibiting any signs of homosexual behavior, or supporting those who do.
Adolph Hitler would be proud of that last one. Oh, and it may be worth noting that the people who are the most vocal about being anti-LGBT are also very pro-gun and are more than willing to show you their collection. Their rhetoric repeatedly expresses a willingness to use those weapons in defense of their opinions.
Excuse me, but am I the only one who feels as though we’re not even close to dancing with the music the universe is playing?
As I grew older, I came to understand that perhaps my mother’s attitudes toward dancing were to cover up the fact she didn’t know how to dance, a trait she passed right along with me. When the boys finally taught her the rudimentary chicken dance, she rather enjoyed participating.
Perhaps it is a similar fear that drives the anti-LGBT movement. If so, they need to conquer that fear, learn how to dance, or get off the dance floor and let those who do know how to work in harmony with a partner govern. Dancing backward only makes everyone ill.