Putting the Shoe on the Other Foot

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2 Responses

  1. Anon says:

    How does a “sticky slope” differ from “backlash,” which is a conventional trope and widely studied in political science?

  2. David Schraub says:

    A backlash is a version of a sticky slope, but it’s not the only one.

    The dynamic I talk about above in Maryland wasn’t really a backlash — it wasn’t the courts rebelling against “special rights” for gay people or deciding things had gone too far. Rather, it was an application of a specific legal doctrine (San Antonio Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez‘s determination for when a classification deserves heightened scrutiny — one factor being its “political powerlessness”) that was used to turn prior victories against the group.

    Another I talk about is the “wrong argument” sticky slope, where political claims are pressed using a specific sort of principle or claim, which is later revealed to be inadequate for securing all parts of the movement’s long-term agenda. Color-blindness, for example, was very useful for winning early civil rights movement, but has become more of a barrier to them (or at least certain groups’ conception of them) in recent years. But, having relied on the argument to win so many prior claims, it is often hard to pivot away from it — the argument itself has earned capital, been used to develop precedent, etc., and has its own disciples — which make those victories hindrances later on.