I miss political punches. Those are moments that I can’t believe are happening in America. They run counter to the idea of America in which I was raised. But they also defy logic and reason.
While America was rocked by riots and assassinations when I was a child, the first major political development in America that shocked me was the election of Ronald Reagan. He’s a jerk, a Hollywood actor, not even a very good one. At the time, fresh out of college, I didn’t really understand the dark forces behind his election — racism and greed, anti-government ideology really just is a recipe for allowing the richest of us to earn more and most racist states to chart their own route.
Reagan, of course, gave a benign face to these changes. When the GOP was taken over in the 1990s by men like Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, and “Contract with America” turned into a seismic campaign that deliberately destabilized Washington (because an inert government is the next best thing to no government at all), it was again a shock. The extremism of GOP worsening, the ethnic divide deepens.
Even the government I serve, President Bill Clinton, bought into policies that made inequality worse and introduced racism codified in welfare reform, beefed up the police force, and berated Sister Souljah. We are Reagan Lite even though we think we are just making a smart political “triangle” and that the kindness in our hearts will prevail. And then we demolished Glass Steagall and passed a telecommunications law that laid the groundwork for the rise of monster technology, the giants that would join Wall Street to dominate in New era of bandits in America.
When Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George W. Bush thanks to a questionable, highly political appeal by the Supreme Court of the United States, it’s also a gut punch.
When Bush and Cheney and company accepted torture and show and wage a “war of choice” that has cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and ruined America’s reputation worldwide, that’s another matter. We are not the country of the “greatest” generation. Vietnam has already begun to make that clear. But this is war criminal grade stuff and somehow they all get away with it.
Then come Donald Trump’s election, another award in which the person who received the most votes, one of the most qualified candidates in our history, was defeated.
That’s Reagan times a thousand times. Instead of a plastic Hollywood face, we have a rotten crossbody bag that is known to every New Yorker and television audience everywhere as one of the scum of humanity. We saw him take the help of one of our greatest enemies to get elected. We heard him lie. And we couldn’t believe it when he lost the popular vote but won the electoral college.
Gut punches happen more quickly during the Trump years. There were 30,000 lies, a Muslim ban, Charlottesville, Russia cover-up, firing of Comey, Mueller report and apparent obstruction case against the president, Barr covered that up, an impeachment, Ukraine and a second impeachment, and then the Big Lie, and January 6, along with hundreds of thousands of deaths from an unnecessary public health disaster. For the first time in our history, there was not a peaceful transfer of power after the US presidential election.
This is not to say that America has even been advertised. But there is a feeling that progress can be made. Deep divisions led to a Civil War but at least slavery was eventually ended. Progress has been made for women and people of color and while that progress has been horribly, amazingly slow, there has been the Voting Rights Act, strides won’t be made. thanks to the civil rights and equal rights movements for women. Our system is full of problems, but you get the feeling that many are being solved, at least to some extent.
But the United Citizens Supreme Court decision gave check-writers more rights than billers in Washington, equating money with words and making a corrupt system even more corrupt. more and unable to reform and progress. The Shelby County decision nullifies many of the benefits of the Voting Rights Act, by declaring early victory against racism in America.
The Senate refuses to account for even a corrupt, unpatriotic, dangerous president. Republicans in the House have defended his corruption and attacks on democracy, while adding their own vileness and racism to the mix. And the GOP’s effort to encapsulate the Supreme Court has now turned it into a completely untrustworthy, open political body — an institution that acts on behalf of a small minority of Americans rather than the people it was created to serve.
Which brings us to the latest gut punch. Listening to the SCOTUS hearings on Mississippi’s efforts to effectively ban abortion, it is clear that decades of efforts by GOP extremists to take to the Supreme Court to promote a A religious agenda opposed by a majority of Americans is about to come to fruition.
A fundamental right, guaranteed to American women for half a century, is about to be taken away. It was about to be stripped by judges who had sworn that Roe suing Wade was “established law” but lied so they could overturn that ruling.
They don’t even have the grace to take matters lightly. From the first moment of the hearing, the case brought by the Attorney General of Mississippi and supported by a conservative majority of the court made it clear that Roe “haunted” America and they wanted to do it. Justice Samuel Alito, the most hated of the extremists on the court, sought to justify the reversal by comparing Roe to Plessy v. Ferguson, deciding to form the basis for the institutionalization of segregation. Racism in the American South.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the conscience of the court, asked, “Can this institution survive the stench this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are merely political acts. are not? I don’t see how it is possible. ”
That’s cool, it’s a true question. The answer is clear. While the court will survive their upcoming decision to reverse or drastically downsize Roe, its status as an institution that is supposed to be above politics clearly will not.
What then? After punch when punch when punch, what can we expect? The Supreme Court has been breached. Over the coming decades, the American Red state will continue to be disproportionately empowered in the United States Senate. If Republicans win the House of Representatives next year, we can expect more dangerous behavior, more often. Consider the gut punch of watching House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan or Chairman Kevin McCarthy in action. The GOP’s agenda of cutting taxes for the rich (literally the primary legislative goal or sole achievement of the last Republican administration) will lead to further inequality.
Is abortion still in the US? Yes, in the blue state. Available to people who can afford to travel to access the medical care they seek. But not with the poor, not with those who have become increasingly victims in this country over the past four decades as inequality has worsened. With this Supreme Court, more and more decisions will be left to the states, and the divide between red and blue America will be bigger than ever.
There won’t be a civil war like the 1860s. But people of color will increasingly be denied representation that reflects their views, thanks to criticisms of our inability to pass suffrage reform. and Republican efforts to change election laws and procedures to their advantage. Despite the power of red state politicians, red state residents will increasingly become second class citizens – not only denied the right to choose, but if the years are any indication, the right to protection. full health coverage or the protection that science-based policies can afford.
The midsection of the United States will become a collection of anti-scientific, anti-historical, anti-women, anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-federal, pseudo-democracies the ruling minority, who will still depend on the massive inflows of tax dollars from the blue states, which they will still loathe and resent.
It’s hard to be optimistic about the future of such a divided America. We will be weakened. We will be reduced. Our divisions will become ever greater obstacles to progress. And so would begin the rapid decline of the United States. We will no longer be the shining city on the Hill or the world’s last best hope. We won’t even be able to withstand the growing global threats we face.
After the turning point in our first Civil War, a conflict that reflects many of the same divisions that persist to this day, President Lincoln concluded his Gettysburg Address with these words:
For us who are living, rather, dedicated here to the unfinished business they have fought here so far have made great progress. Instead of us being here to devote ourselves to the great task that remains before us — it is from these honorable dead, we dedicate more devotion to the cause for which they made the last resort. of devotion — that we are here highly determined that these dead will not perish in vain — that this nation, under God, will have a new birth of freedom — and Government of the people, by the people, for the people, will not perish from the earth.
That we failed in that mission would be the ultimate gut punch. We will not be who we were, nor who we hope to be.
The only answer is that, after enduring the shocks of the past four decades, we recognize the costs of this cold civil war and choose a different path — one that rejects division. sought by the American right, taking the necessary steps to undo the damage they have caused. is doing for our democracy and, as President Biden and the Democrats have sought to do, is interested in the work that elevates and unites all Americans with a sense of common purpose and aspiration. which too many of us seem to have forgotten.
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