- In the last 36 hours, the Supreme Court upheld the Muslim travel ban; went on to eviscerate public sector unions; and now, Justice Kennedy will give an undemocratically elected President control of the courts for a generation.
Other than that, how’s your day?
We were cheated out of the Presidency in 2000. We were cheated out of the Supreme Court seat in 2016. We were cheated — again — out of the Presidency in 2016. We have suffered mass disenfranchisement and undemocratic gerrymandering — and that’s before you count the essentially undemocratic nature of the Senate from its origin, and the filibuster. Since 2000, we’ve been screwed. It’s wrong to ascribe our disempowerment, in the main, to political strategy choices by one candidate or another.
There are already many analyses out there about what we’ll lose, including and especially Roe v. Wade. We’ll see a court unmoored by either precedent, legislative intent, or democratic Zeitgeist (yes, courts reflect that too). It will destroy our civil freedoms; our environmental, health, and labor protections. Because of its political durability, we have not appreciated how much of the New Deal/Great Society program was on once-disputed legal grounds. Now, much of the progress from the 1930s through the 1970s, that provided vulnerable populations the ability to breathe just a little easier, will be dynamited like the Taliban destroying statues of Buddha. It will provide an increasingly fascistic government the invasive powers it wants; our oligarchy the tribute it craves; and invoke some Federalist Society frabba-jabba as post-hoc rationalization. They will do what they want.
For those of us of middle age, this twilight battle for actual self-government will define the rest of our age — that, and the ferocity of a hotter planet.
There is almost always a work-around; power is always a negotiation. But let’s not sugar-coat this: Sometimes the good guys lose. Being right is not enough. Increasingly, even being in the democratic majority isn’t enough.
May we be as courageous and ingenious as the new era of Sisyphus requires.