Bipartisan Mortal Apologies to Gettysburg

The John Roberts U.S. Supreme Court has much to answer for ideologically twisting the rule of law to disserve a rising majority-minority country, and in the process lower America’s shared democracy common denominators. Abraham Lincoln’s hoped-for inclusive, transparent, regenerative and representative “e pluribus Unum”, a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, earned through selfless-spilled blue and gray blood caked onto Gettysburg fields, now gasps for breath in an under-funded and under-staffed federal oxygen tent powered by makeshift twitter feeds.

As deadly prologue to anticipated legally biased decisions, America’s looming Coronavirus challenge exhumes partisan political lies and manipulations revealing a purposefully divided opioid nation unable to cope with incoming medical and well as civic society pandemics. In this context, the Roberts Court has not been a force for good. Axios Futures affirms that “Over the last decade, the court — with an originalist tilt favoring a strict reading of the constitution — has broadened the right to own guns (2008), opened up the campaign funding spigot from corporations (2010), and invalidated part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act (2013). These cases and those before helped to shape the political surroundings in which the topsy-turvy half-century of politics have occurred, culminating in today’s popular distrust of institutions, rejection of experts, and outrage at institutions.”

First, undercutting the 1964 Voting Rights Act (on June 25th, 2013) led immediately to selective state-based surges into “back to the future”, Jim Crow revisited, race, place and generational-based voter suppression tactics and legislation. Discriminatory voter ID laws across a demographically and culturally threatened populist and conservative-evangelical neo-Confederacy produced arbitrarily closed polling stations in majority minority districts and those with a high youth electoral component. Abnormally long citizen queues waiting hours to fulfill the most basic democratic social compact visually symbolize America’s unhealed legacy and still viral black/brown/yellow/gender racism, red genocide and structured inequality founding diseases. The Roberts Court called a match that’s still being played in overtime periods with endless innings.

Second, unleashing anonymous political party and campaign funding into elections through the Citizens United ruling (January 21st, 2010) plunged “the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests.” Two billionaires’ recent inability to buy the 2020 Democratic primaries does not invalidate the “one dollar, one vote” embedded curse franchising “the best government private money can buy” nor fully proven (beyond any reasonable doubt), successful hostile foreign government interferences in U.S. elections. The Roberts Court put “pay-to-play” on legal steroids.

(Chief Justice John Roberts comes face to face with the mess he made – By Dana Milbank/WAPO).

Third, this Supreme Court has not yet seen fit to challenge the partisan-passed and signed into law (December 22, 2017) tax reform bill that blatantly rewarded red states’ lower living standards while punishing blue states for investing in higher standards, picking human and geographic winners and losers based on how they voted in the 2016 national elections. Underlying wages and benefits paid to stakeholder and paycheck-dependent workers equate to basic quality of life healthcare and environmental protections. The incoming “grim reaper” Coronavirus will further divide haves and have-nots into those who survive and those who don’t. Geographically deploying the U.S. tax code to reward electoral supporters and punish electoral enemies qualifies as a politically determined interstate act of fiscal domestic violence against the “United” States. On this egregious breach of one country indivisible, the Roberts Court is shamefully silent.

In America, no banker of consequence went to jail for the financial sector-germinated 2008 Great Recession that caused nearly 10 million homeowners to lose their homes to foreclosure sales between 2006 and 2014. The institutional corporate collapses over a decade earlier of Enron, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Sterns but now revisited by the apocalyptic WeWork valuation disintegration, show that winning is everything until it’s nothing. For those without a seat at the table, it’s the nothing that stings forever when America’s “winner takes all” capitalism systematically privatizes gains, socializes losses and ridicules the impending socialism versus capitalism campaign debate falsely predicated on markets that are never truly “free”. A disunited United States feeds the Oxfam International narrative that billionaires worldwide grow $2.5 billion richer every day, while the poorest half of the global population sinks into what the 2020 Oscar Best Picture, “Parasite”, depicts as the “dirt-spoon class”.

No wonder both Trump MAGA militants and “take no prisoners” Bernie Bros unite ethno-populist nativism and adamant democratic socialism to critique “inequalities generated by capitalism with a rejection of technocratic nudging and meritocratic striving”, under a common fundamental belief the system is a priori functionally stacked and empirically rigged against them. Their mutual avoidable tragedy is that even when one side is winning, the inequality battle for both sides has already been lost: “every year more young people are entering adulthood disillusioned with a system that loads them up with debt and then drops them on an escalator to nowhere.”

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (November 13, 1863) articulated the healing of a nation at war with itself. America’s 2016-2020 rising civil resurrection culturally bypasses Gettysburg’s legacy not because the “world little noted, nor long remembered what we say here”. One-hundred-fifty-seven years later, Americans in elected and appointed power choose to forget, ignore, minimize, misunderstand or, egged-on by a Supreme Court (ideologically faithful to a plantation-era Electoral College but not the country’s multiracial demographic popular vote), deliberately mischaracterize, dismiss and disrespect “what they did here”. Constructing and enabling an autarchic-anachronistic legal justification of Jacksonian (1828) government, “to the victors belong the spoils”, shows we have learned nothing to say nothing of dishonoring our buried dead.

-Michael A. Peck-
March 2020