Saturday, October 6th, 2018: the country continues to self-dismantle. The world is witnessing once again how America’s political and judicial processes bully and devalue America’s women. The haters, enablers, dividers and dictators are winning; there is no uplifting alternative vision stronger than reactive selfishness, greed, disgust and fear with enough bipartisan power and inspiration to prevail.
Echoing Democratic Party legislative control twenty-seven years ago during the Clarence Thomas – Anita Hill hearings, the U.S. Senate under Republican Party leadership voted to seat a denounced male sexual perpetrator at the expense of another credible, traumatically harmed female victim on a rushed, incomplete basis and along partisan lines with only two crossover exceptions. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court will continue to shed legitimacy for more millions of Americans as an honest broker that is independent of politics, another U.S. public institution that has lost its meta-service halo and chose to mire its feet in the muck of partisan transactional clay.
If the most qualified women among us continue to receive this kind of prejudicial treatment at the hands of our highest elected legislative body and the highest court of the land, what hope for any sliver of justice is there for those without similar standing? Where is the domestic court of last resort for Americans without sufficient economic resources or access to power to have their voices heard, to defend basic shredded human rights and the veracity of heartfelt testimony under oath?
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court, without any precedent, decided to select a presidential candidate for office who lost the popular vote in a bitterly contested national election. Nine judges voted without exception for the political party that nominated them to a lifetime appointment (EJ Dionne/Washington Post, “We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh”).
Elections have earth-shaking consequences. Dave Leonhardt writes in the NY Times that it is “important to consider the full series of events that have led us to this moment, such as Trump’s history of fraud; his razor-thin win, with illegal help from a foreign enemy; and the Senate Republicans’ theft of a Supreme Court seat.”
After the horrors of the September 11, 2001, terrorism attacks on New York City, Somerset County, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., politically manipulated intelligence through a premeditated “fake news” campaign claiming nonexistent weapons of massive destruction served as justification to initiate the 2003 Iraq War. Official U.S. policy sanctioned Abu Ghraid prison torture as acceptable American rules of wartime engagement with one of the enablers now confirmed by the current U.S. Senate to run the CIA.
The Roberts U.S. Supreme Court opined in 2010 that unlimited dark money political campaign contributions contribute to democracy’s fullest plebiscite expression, a decision that elevated the rights of corporate personhood while doing absolutely nothing for individual persons struggling under the yoke of America’s surging inequalities including greatly reduced life-time expectancy for those condemned by birth to underserved geographies. In 2013, that same court hailed the 1964 Civil Rights Act as legislation that had run its self-righting course and then gutted the law. Ten states including former members of the Confederacy (e.g. North Carolina & Texas) and contemporary battleground, ethnocentric populist imitators (such as Ohio) rushed to enact unchecked race-based gerrymandering, voter qualification suppression and voter-rolls purging.
Reminiscent of the “swift-boating” communications techniques pioneered during the 2004 presidential campaign to distort, diminish and devalue the historically valued virtue of bonafide U.S. military service under enemy fire; the accused transforms into victim, becomes the accuser and wins the day. In sports terminology, the best defense as compelling offense where the messenger is shamed to impugn the message serves as mainstream American political tactics gospel. To seat the latest Supreme Court judge, the Senate vote was preceded by the female plaintiff being systematically and publicly trashed or swift-boated starting at the top of the “heap” by the current President of the United States, before she lost her case on a de facto party-line vote.
The long and winding, almost three decades’ road between the testimony offered both by Professor Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford frames this country’s stagnant cycling in place on gender racism without forward movement. America is trapped in an inequality prism where economic and racial privilege sculpt preordained outcomes increasingly at moral and aspirational odds with the majority of America’s citizens. Economic and political party power lay waste to supposed firewall constitutional checks and balances which, as those on the receiving end are relearning the hard way, don’t stand a chance without divided government earned through electoral results, our founders’ noble if naive intentions notwithstanding.
One-sided, win at all costs, cultural hegemony squashes civic patriotism, fairness and decency. Operating the U.S. Supreme Court as a political party appendage rams the tyranny of the powerful and privileged down the emotional strep throat of America’s rising racial, gender and economic classes who are disentangling any potential stakes, hope and interest in curating America’s future.
Ranked among the worst regimes on the global GINI inequality index, the latest immigration statistics reveal that the “best and the brightest” are choosing to go somewhere other than the United States where better values inspire more enlightened societies. American educational institutions serve as the canary in this particular coal mine, losing international student populations by the thousands. The strands and sinews holding the republic’s structure in place are unwinding before our eyes, succumbing to distorted “alternative facts” and “secret science” induced phishing of its imagined, exceptional nation-state self.
The long road back starts with equal treatment under the law and with a rebirth of solidarity through a broadened and deepened shared governing and civic-governed experience. Reversing structural inequalities of wealth, opportunity and mobility starting with the decommodification of labor must be America’s full-time job. This process begins by publicly acknowledging founding original sins conceived to enslave Africans for economic riches, to commit genocide of American Indians for the conquest of territory and to deny women of all races and ethnicity equal status under the law.
We sense that living grass can grow though dead cement but we outsource independent thinking and downgrade inclusivity to vote like tribal lemmings who continuously pave over the well-traveled roads to conventional wisdom within our privatized democratic wastelands. In that context, we deserve the Supreme Court we get.
-Michael Peck is a co-founder and 1worker1vote’s executive director-