“Feel the pain
Talk about it
If you’re a worried man, then shout about it
Open hearts, feel about it
Open minds, think about it
Everyone, read about it
Everyone, scream about it!” — Roland Orzabal
Funny how things always seems to happen when we are away. We went on a family vacation to San Francisco. It used to be that you could go away and leave your troubles behind. With connectivity, all of our troubles seem to follow us everywhere. In the span of a week we saw two landmark Supreme Court cases hit the news. One overturned a New York gun law and another overturned Roe v. Wade.
I’ve talked about guns and abortion before. In fact, I’ve talked about what I’m about to talk about as well. Everything old is new again. It would be wrong for me to suggest the court is reaching new ground here. In a way it is, but for the most part we have been here before. Brown vs. Board of Education created new law back in 1954. It also likely went against what the majority of the population felt at the time. We had no public opinion polling back then, so that is merely a guess, but I feel like it is a good guess.
The court is there to interpret the constitution and not to bend to the whims of a fickle majority. I think we can agree with that much. However, it is fair to question whether following legal precedent matters and conservatives have long maintained a disdain for activist judges. The court (by vote of 6-3 both times) just actively created new law on both counts. The created two radically different interpretations of the constitution on both counts. Those two interpretations make citizens less safe and their health more in peril. There is no denying that.
There is also no denying what they are after. Clarence Thomas mentioned gay marriage in his majority opinion and we know our very own John Cornyn mentioned Brown vs. Board of Education. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to include interracial marriages as well. We are literally going back a century on human rights.
In an odd way, the backdrop of San Francisco is kind of telling here. You have never seen a town more into Pride Month than San Francisco. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a pride flag. Stores had pride messages painted on their windows. Different companies offered pride products. It was the most inclusive, welcoming environment I had ever seen. How does all of this happen in the same country?
It happens because a minority of citizens have managed to control government and the courts. The GOP has effectively won a majority in a presidential election once since 1988. Many of their politicians have suggested that we live in a center-right country right now. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that based on national voting records or public opinion polling. None.
What there is evidence of is plenty of gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics that have kept progressivism at bay. This is where things get dicey. It is fair for people to look at Democrats in general and liberals and progressives specifically and claim they have failed. They didn’t codify abortion into law. They have been ineffective at stopping gerrymandering and have allowed the courts to be dominated by conservatives. There is no denying that.
The question is what happens now. We can go down two roads. One road would be for enough voters to punish Democrats either by staying home or voting for third party candidates. That way, you’d insure a Republican victory and usher in a Handmaiden’s Tale. The second road is to recognize the threat and where it is coming from. There you would overwhelm the GOP with a blue wave and then slowly rebuild what they have broken.
There are some that think the first road is tempting. After all, maybe if things get really bad then systemic change will be easier to obtain. That thinking has two problems. First, you are hurting millions along the way and secondly you are assuming there will be a democracy left to get back. Clearly, the GOP doesn’t care what the majority wants. They never have. Your only real bet is to block them from tearing this thing down any further.