No surprise here, but CNN's Fareed Zakaria cheered the states that legalized same-sex marriage and marijuana on his Sunday CNN show, lauding it "a picture of America at its best, edgy, experimental, open-minded and brilliantly diverse."
Zakaria also noted exit polls favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants. "I hesitate to build a grand narrative out of all this, but the trend seems to be towards individual freedom, self-expression, and dignity for all," gushed the liberal journalist once reportedly considered for a position in Obama's second-term cabinet. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
And he got in a jab at Republicans at the end, saying the GOP "has taken to looking at this new America with anxiety and fear."
He called gay marriage "the civil rights cause of our time," adding that "One day we will look back and wonder how people could have been so willing to deny equal treatment under the law to a small minority. And Tuesday will stand as one of the most important moments marking the end of that cruelty."
Zakaria called the votes for legalization of recreational use of marijuana "the beginning of the end of the war on drugs. This may be the most costly, distorting and futile war the United States has ever waged."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Fareed Zakaria GPS on November 11 at 10:01 p.m. EST, is as follows:
FAREED ZAKARIA: Growing up in India in the 1960s and '70s, I always thought of America as the future. It was the place where the newest technology, the best gadgets, the latest fads seemed to originate. Seemingly exotic political causes, women's liberation, gay rights, ageism, always seemed to get their start on the streets of the United States or in the courts and legislatures.
For me, Tuesday's election brought back that sense of America as the future. The presidential race has been discussed as one that was about nothing with no message or mandate, but I don't think that's true. Put aside the reelection of Barack Obama and consider what else happened this week. Three states voted to legalize same-sex marriage, which is the civil rights cause of our times. One day we will look back and wonder how people could have been so willing to deny equal treatment under the law to a small minority. And Tuesday will stand as one of the most important moments marking the end of that cruelty.
Two other states voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana, which will mark the beginning of the end of the war on drugs. This may be the most costly, distorting and futile war the United States has ever waged. Over the past four decades, we have spent $1 trillion to fight this war without reducing the availability of drugs in cities while also destroying our penal system. The U.S. has more than three times as many prisoners per capita as we had in 1980 and about 10 times as many prisoners per capita as other rich countries, according to data from the OECD. About 1.6 million Americans were arrested in 2010 on drug charges, most for using marijuana. This week's votes indicate that Americans have begun rethinking these policies, perhaps moving towards ones that would deprive drug cartels of their huge profits and allow our police to focus on serious crime.
Perhaps the most stunning shift this week came not in the passage of a ballot measure or law, but an exit poll finding, one that might move us towards major legislation. When asked what should be done with the almost 12 million illegal immigrants working in the U.S., almost two-thirds of respondents wanted to grant them legal status. Now, remember, four years ago, anti-immigrant voices were so loud that John McCain, the sponsor of a comprehensive and intelligent immigration reform bill, had to run away from his own handiwork when he was campaigning for the White House. I hesitate to build a grand narrative out of all this, but the trend seems to be towards individual freedom, self-expression, and dignity for all.
This embrace of diversity in every sense is America's great gift to the world, one which foreigners, since the days of Hector St. John de Crevecoeur and Alexis de Tocqueville, have always marveled. In 1990, the neo-conservative writer, Ben Wattenberg, wrote a book called, "The First Universal Nation" arguing that, The U.S. was creating something unique in history, a nation composed of all colors, races, religions and creeds all thriving in their individualism. That diversity, he said, is going to be America's greatest strength in the years ahead.
While Wattenberg's party, the GOP, has taken to looking at this new America with anxiety and fear, he was right. What the world saw this week was a picture of America at its best, edgy, experimental, open-minded and brilliantly diverse.