Blocking the view of the exit

 

One of the first things the passengers on a commercial flight are told is to find the location of the nearest exit. Nice opener, I always thought. "Welcome to our comfortable and safe vessel designed to magically deliver you hundreds or thousands of miles away from here where your dreams can come true! But if the magic fails, frantically scurry for the door over there!"

Plan B is usually less desirable than Plan A. But when there is no Plan B, especially in politics, that's when the really bad things happen.

A political columnist Tweeted this earlier in the week: "How can a nation with more access to information than at any point in history be filled with so many people who have no clue?" My answer to that is that too many people get information from sources that deliver it with our biases built in and even then, we rarely read past those first 140 characters.

Politicians no longer develop a Plan B because Plan A was never even a "plan" in the first place. Plan A is becoming more like a "meme," designed to rile up blindly loyal folks who will insist the punchline is a brilliant display of thoughtful leadership.

First up this week is Donald Trump. He won't rule out requiring Muslims to have IDs designating them as such and he is also looking "very, very closely at the Mosques" — since, in his mind, so much hatred is coming from those houses of worship. If 10 years ago someone had told me the leading Republican (or Democrat) presidential candidate was suggesting such things, I would have been on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable news of said candidate's political destruction. For those who don't see the problem with Trump's stance, substitute "Christian" — or "Jewish" — for "Muslim" in the sentence above and think about it. Then imagine it as a reality.

As someone who has spent many years implementing public policy, I call that a plan for mass hysteria.

Next, let's discuss the refugee blockade plans in 29 states. It's a sound-bite, Twitter- post plan that wasn't thought out. At the top of the list of its problems is the obvious lack of authority to block the program. President Obama could ignore the Tweets, and go on about his day. He could also instruct the federal agencies to implement the program via Washington. In Indiana terms, there are only a couple of people in state government working on this entire program anyway.

Gov. Rick Snyder from Michigan was the first to announce his plan to block refugees. His language is significantly softer now than it was on Black Monday (Nov. 16) — and it was pretty soft to begin with. But in many states that followed where citizens have celebrated the fearful announcements as some kind of Christian victory against Islam, America is just starting to seem like someplace other than America.

If governors were actually concerned about their states' safety and security, could they have expressed that in a civil communication to the president without the inflammatory, and ignorant, blockade "plans?" Yes, they could have. Would the possibilities for a Plan B have been better? Yes, they would have.

Finally, Indiana is at the beginning of a legislative civil rights battle. It is a fight between the religious community (again, see above) and the LGBT community. And more importantly, it is not the "beginning." While many don't realize it, our current predicament in Indiana isn't Plan B, it is more like Plan E or even more appropriately, Plan F.

Are there opponents to the idea of protecting the LGBT community as a class who believe that the public opposition to it will continue to grow? If so, they aren't paying attention. The issue is trending away from them and will never return. At the same time from the religious freedom perspective of the debate, didn't Indiana pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last session? Twice? Why yes, we did.

Since the infamous March 29 ABC News episode, "This Week," when Gov. Mike Pence defiantly refused to say that RFRA did not create a license to discriminate against gays, Indiana has been done with Plan A. A good exit strategy should have been developed immediately. Eight months later, the resolution to that historically significant screw-up in our history still is not within sight.

It's as if a dark cloud is blocking the view of the exit.

There are a few things that I believe which are either already true, or eventually will be true. The United States of America will always protect its citizens' freedom of religion. All religions. Its people will also not tolerate discrimination against identifiable classes of people, including those born and raised elsewhere, and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

For those Americans troubled by this, it is time for you to begin looking for that elusive exit.

So back on that commercial flight, imagine Donald Trump, or any of the blockade governors making the announcements. They might say: "Fire up the engines! We are going to Vegas! Let's pray for the best."

And then nothing else.

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