Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that anti-abortion protestors enjoyed a special status not accorded to the normal run of protestor.
This week, before the conservative majority scurried out of town, it ruled that a) corporations are persons whose owners’ religious convictions must be accommodated, and b) home health workers in Illinois didn’t have to pay union dues if they weren’t directly members of those unions, even though the unions negotiated on their behalf.
Within a week’s span, the Court has done more to upend women’s and labor rights than any similar span in any other Court session for the past few decades.
But this was a predictable outcome of the 2000 election. Once George W. Bush was ensconced in the White House by a slightly less conservative but no less supine Court, the goal of the conservative movement has been to control the one unaccountable branch of the Federal government. Fortunately, with President Obama’s election and re-election, and with Senator Harry Reid’s filibuster reforms, the lower courts are now majority appointed by Democratic presidents. But the Supreme Court has veered so far to the Right—occasional favorable rulings notwithstanding—that it is almost a caricature of the warnings of a runaway Court those on the Left have bruited.
My best friend, someone I love unconditionally, has fallen into the trap of “both parties are the same”. It’s a common refrain in certain parts of the Left. It is born of a desperation at seeing things unchanged, which leads to an apathy and a “pox on both your houses” mindset.
But let’s have a thought experiment: Does anyone truly think that a Supreme Court with a liberal majority would have ruled on Hobby Lobby, or McCullen, or Harris in the same way as the Roberts Court has? Would those cases have even been heard by a liberal-leaning Court? In this experiment, can one truly say that there would have been no difference in governing philosophies between a President Gore and the President Bush who was foisted on us? To anyone who says “both parties are the same”, all one has to do is to point at the Court.
Conservatives, far from being against judicial activism, have embraced it wholeheartedly, implementing the most fevered wishes of the Right—scuppering unions, controlling women, giving corporations all the rights of natural persons. Who is in the White House and who controls the Congress matters, because the party which does has control over the agenda. And yes, there is a difference between the two parties. If you can’t see it, then despair has overtaken reason, and cynicism is more comfortable than hope.
This year cannot be one of apathy. This year cannot be one of hopelessness. The election of 2012 was monumental. The election of 2014 is even more so. I’m not speaking apocalyptically. I am merely stating fact. If Democrats don’t hold the Senate and gain the House, the rest of Pres. Obama’s two years will be at best ineffectual. At worst, we’ll see impeachment, an unraveling of ACA, a rollback of anything progressive which the President has attempted to accomplish.
To paraphrase Plato, apathy’s reward is to be ruled by your inferiors, by people whose goals are diametrically opposed to yours. In no mature nation should clowns like Bobby Jindal and Louie Gohmert have access to power. And yet there they are, shining lights of an intellectually and morally bankrupt conservative movement. They’re in power because people don’t vote. They’re in power because the media has repeated the lie of “both the same” so often that people just shrug their shoulders. They’re in power because corporations have been so privileged that people struggle to survive, and believe their lot in life is their lot in life and nothing can be done. They’re in power because they set people against each other, frightening them, warning them that “they” are coming to get them.
This November cannot be the same. The Court may remain the same for a few more years, but we have to be in a position to put in Justices who aren’t wholly owned subsidiaries of the conservative movement and corporations. We have to think long term. Anything less and we will again reap apathy’s reward, with no clear way of ever getting out of the hole.