By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
So Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion potentially overturning Roe v. Wade has been leaked. Inevitable since Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. embarked on court-packing during President Obama’s terms and, therefore, no surprise, leaking it was unhelpful. Like the dog who caught the car, anxious to change the subject, Republicans are calling the leak the “real insurrection” (Twitter: tinyurl.com/2leak4U).
But it won’t impact the decision, assuming Alito’s philippic is the final product. And everyone except Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, saw it coming when McConnell blocked Merrick Garland for the flimsiest of reasons, then did an extraordinarily hypocritical (even for him) 180 for Amy Coney Barrett.
I happen to agree that, ideally, the right to abortion should be legislated rather than adjudicated. Which is what Mr. Justice implied, knowing his court had previously made sure it would never happen, butter not melting in his mouth. Nevertheless, butter dripped from his lips like MAGmA when he insisted the decision is no threat to other SCOTUS rulings; and when he specifically eschewed caring about its impact. What happens to babies force-born into poverty, when Republicans, as always, refuse to pay for help? And women who’ll die? Irrelevant. Abortion is a “profound moral issue,” Alito wrote; but those, evidently, aren’t.
His rationale — that abortion isn’t mentioned in the Constitution — can be applied to virtually every non-enumerated right the court has previously sanctified: access to birth control, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, integrated schools, fair housing, even the very right to privacy.
The system is now so perfectly rigged in favor of disfavored, minority preferences that there’s practically no way Congress will enact legislation to guarantee any of those things, despite the fact that a majority of Americans support them all, not just the right to abortion (with widely-accepted restrictions). Blatantly unfair gerrymandering; voter suppression laws precisely aimed at Democratic constituencies; wildly disparate numbers of polling and registration places between white and minority districts, “legal” since Roberts’ gutting of the Voting Rights Act; the “Citizens United” decision allowing unlimited political bribery by the nameless super-rich; attacking public education; Trump’s Big Lie. All serving their ultimate goal: turning the United States into a theocratic oligarchy, run by powerful corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals, based on a “Christianity” that’s as far from Christ-like as a drug cartel. Tweet it!
Americans consider voting the ultimate defense of democracy, placing our country’s direction in the hands of its citizens. While still theoretically true, the ability to maintain small “l” liberal democracy via the ballot box is under relentless attack from the right. Kept distracted and disinformed by their anti-democratic, pro-authoritarian media, the people most adversely affected by the agenda of today’s Republican Party, which includes the majority of Trump voters, are being convinced to vote against their own interests. In order to save their children from being “groomed.” Or eaten. Or taught empathy. Or American history. To save themselves from the One World Order, the Great Replacement. Or George Soros.
It’s self-perpetuating. As people like Margorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and depressingly more are welcomed to center stage of their party (let’s not forget Trump), good people are leaving. Any ethical Republican, a term rapidly becoming oxymoronic, will be primaried by Trumpists and endorsed (assuming he can remember their names) by Trump. The more deplorable, the better. Name nearly forgotten by Trump, J.D. Vance accused President Biden of deliberately letting fentanyl through the southern border in order to kill MAGA voters. And won the Ohio Republican senate primary. (MAGA voters are addicts? Explains a lot.) In fact, interdiction of drugs by the Biden administration has increased tenfold over Trump’s time. But lies and liars win, yet again (Huffpost: tinyurl.com/drugs4MAGA).
If it hadn’t yet been obvious to everyone, now there’s no denying America is a country whose policies are decided by a minority of its citizens. Proving the point, four of SCOTUS’ hard-right, Roe-ending ideologues were appointed by “presidents” who lost the popular vote. Able to block nearly all legislation, including the rights-restoring Women’s Health Protection Act, Republican senators represent 40 million fewer voters than the Democrats. That’s not democracy. But it’s America now.
Perhaps the elimination of abortion rights will awaken voters to the precarious standing of all protected personal decisions. Maybe it’ll be the long-overdue catalyst for enlightening the “They’re all the same,” “I’m voting third-party,” “Why bother to vote,” “It doesn’t affect me” people who’ve repeatedly ceded elections to those who’ve facilitated appointing a court bent on returning us to the eighteenth century and a former “president” eager to preside over a kleptocratic plutocracy.
Preventing all that will take an unprecedented turnout of caring voters, now, this year, against massive efforts from the other side to keep it from happening. In Trump’s America, it seems increasingly unlikely.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.