“Glad mom and dad are not alive to see this,” my sister Gina and I agreed during a phone call the other day. We were speaking about what’s going on in America right now: a Supreme Court dominated by right-wing, religious conservatives simultaneously upholding Federal protection for gun rights while eliminating a woman’s right to an abortion. In the case of gun control, the court eliminates state’s rights, and in the case of banning abortion, elevates state’s rights. Huh?
Mom and Dad had vastly different views, politically. My mother was avowedly liberal, my father more conservative. Political discussions at our dinner table were often vigorous and passionate. I remember one terribly noisy fight they had in 1956 when my mother placed an “Adlai Stevenson for President” window sticker on our front door, inducing the ire of my Dwight Eisenhower supporting father. Despite such differences, they would both be horrified by the turn of events in America this decade.
American democracy is in free-fall. After decades marked by the emancipation of women, minorities, and LBGTQ, our contingent of anti-freedom, anti-democratic zealots have seized the reins of power and are doing their utmost to roll back the socio-political clock. Make no mistake about it, those who believe that some of us are lesser humans have always been around, but it’s been a very long time since they had the power to make the rules. Now that they’ve got it, we’re all in trouble.
Tyranny is sneaky; it slips into power not always through force, but through subterfuge. While nominees, members of the Supreme Court’s radical-right majority lied to congress about their adherence to Rowe v. Wade. Seems to me that’s a legitimate cause for impeachment. They took an oath to be truthful in their testimony, right?
I wonder why the likes of Mitch McConnell assume tyranny will not turn its ugly face in his direction. Donald Trump enthusiastically throws his ardent supporters under the bus; there’s nothing to stop him or another tyrant from destroying his opposition once America’s rule of law has been undermined. Just ask Vladimir Putin; he knows how it works.
Some people I know are blasé about what’s happening. “The world will survive the blight of human beings,” they proclaim, sounding almost gleeful at the prospect of our demise. Yes, humanity has made a mess of things; that’s true, and it won’t be easy to set it right. But for those of us with children and grandchildren what’s the choice? Is it morally or ethically right to tell them it’s too late to step back from the brink and that they should simply accept their woeful fate? I don’t buy it. I won’t buy it.
We make choices constantly; some are tiny and others huge. Add them all together and destiny is created. It’s not rocket science: the future is the result of the collective actions and choices we make today. None of us have a crystal ball, but if we abandon democracy its replacement is likely to be less favorable, and quite possibly monstrous.
I’m hoping the recent turn of events mobilize those who treasure democracy and freedom. Overcoming tyranny takes dedication, time, and courage. Unless many millions of us become active and engaged, American democracy will fail and may never recover. To those who simply say “the pendulum swings,” I reply “not if I can stop it.”