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This is a big country. And we are deeply divided – and deeply segregated. And not just by race and income.

Just who do we think we are? 

It was a wonderful two days, with the Supreme Court strengthening the Fair Housing Act and endorsing the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality.

For many Americans, each ruling was worth celebrating, and for a moment, there was the sense that the country had undergone a massive, fundamental correction. There was enough good news to take our minds off of Charleston and what that tragedy tells us about how far we have to go.

The New York Times' Paul Krugman was optimistic as the weekend arrived. The health-care decision, he wrote, "means that the big distractions - the teething problems of the website, the objectively ludicrous but nonetheless menacing attempts at legal sabotage - are behind us and we can focus on the reality of health reform."

We wish.

Republicans in Congress quickly started planning to destroy the health-care act piece by piece, by cutting off funding for individual parts of it. And Republican presidential candidates quickly lashed out at the rulings on both health care and marriage equality.

Mike Huckabee called the marriage-equality decision "an out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny" and said that the court "can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the law of gravity."

"Today," Rick Santorum tweeted, "5 unelected judges redefined the foundational unit of society."

Ted Cruz said the health-care and marriage-equality rulings have given us "some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history."

"Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that," said Bobby Jindal. The ruling, he said, "will pave the way for an all-out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision."

Jeb Bush, predictably, bobbed and weaved. Donald Trump, curiously, tried to link Bush to the marriage decision through former President George Bush, who appointed Chief Justice John Roberts to the court. "Once again the Bush-appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down," puffed Trump, ignoring the fact that Roberts voted against the marriage-equality ruling.

We can assume that marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act - which needs considerable reform to make adequate health care a right, not a privilege - will be major topics in the 2016 presidential election. Good. Because both issues are important, and they can lead us to a deep discussion of a question that Justice Roberts has posed. He raised it in a different tone, chastising the justices who voted in favor of marriage equality. But it's a good question:

"Just who do we think we are?"

This is a big country. And we are deeply divided - and deeply segregated. And not just by race and income. We are segregated by philosophy and understanding and deeply held beliefs. The East Coast and West Coasts are indeed Left Coasts. And for those of us relishing last week's Supreme Court's decisions, it is often as difficult for us to understand many of the people of The Heartland as it is for them to understand us.

Last week had a wonderful ending, but we still have far to go. As the massacre of nine African-Americans in Charleston reminded us, Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia didn't end racism in the United States. And Obergefell v. Hodges won't end discrimination against members of the LGBT community. Leadership by elected officials and the media is essential. But some of them are leading the push backward.

In his eulogy at the service for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, President Obama tried to offer hope, referencing the words of "Amazing Grace." "As a nation," he said, "out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we've been blind."

Well, we can hope. Obama closed his eulogy similar to the way politicians often close their addresses. But he injected a pause for emphasis: "May God continue to shed His grace on the United... States of America."

We can hope. We can hope.

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