written 20 September 2020
published 27 September 2020
The year 2020 is one for the record books! Beginning with the trial of an impeached president (only the third in US history) we are now experiencing the worst pandemic in a century. The incompetent Federal response produced the largest infection on the planet and the ongoing economic crash rivals the Great Depression. Social protests over systemic economic inequity, misogyny, police murders, and racism have swept the nation, mobilizing people of all races, demanding structural change: real equality for all.
The National Hurricane Center has already run through the alphabet this storm season (for only the second time in history) and three major storms hit the Gulf Coast this month. A record-breaking fire season in the western states started a month ago with 14,000 lightning strikes, creating blankets of unhealthy smoke, and the seasonal Diablo winds are still to come.
Trump used troops on protests and hobbled the Post Office as people plan to vote by mail due to the pandemic. The integrity of the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control have been compromised for partisan reasons. Political polarization in the country is at an all-time high, each side seeing the other as traitors, with a presidential election in five weeks. Even the existence of "truth" has been called into question.
Then Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. Ginsberg dedicated her entire life to equality: as the legal foundation of America, and the moral foundation of integrity.
Long standing Republican policies (low taxes, small government, anti-regulation) increasingly benefit corporations and the very wealthy, but at the expense of the rest of society, making it more difficult for Republicans to win popular elections. Their short-term strategy is to restrict access to voting through purging voter rolls, stricter voter ID rules, and extreme gerrymandering. They are aided in this by the anti-democratic make-up of the Senate and the Electoral College, which gives disproportionate power to states with smaller populations, which have trended Republican. But their long-term solution is control of the Judicial Branch, particularly the Supreme Court, consisting of nine unelected individuals, appointed for life, who can veto any legislation, no matter the popular support.
When the election of 2000 was contested, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the recount in the state of Florida, giving the election to Bush II by decree. In 2010, a 5-4 decision called Citizens United removed a century of law limiting campaign funding, which has allowed torrents of corporate and dark money to flood into politics. In 2013, key portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were repealed by a 5-4 vote, claiming voter discrimination was no longer a problem, removing federal scrutiny of state voting practices.
During his term, Obama appointed two retiring Justices, and would have appointed a third after the sudden death of Justice Scalia in early 2016. Senator McConnell refused Senate consideration for over a year, the first time since the Civil War, claiming "it was too close to an election and the voters should decide". Trump won, made that appointment, another when Justice Kennedy retired, and is now poised to make a third. With weeks left before the election, McConnell has conveniently changed his principles, and declared there will be a vote in the Senate.
This is not a foregone conclusion, as some Republican Senators may still have moral integrity. If not, the Republican dream of judicial control is still limited by the reality they consistently deny. Population demographics are against them, as younger people want a more inclusive, livable world. Women vote. Covid-19 isn't going away, the economic consequences of the pandemic will be long-lasting, and climate change doesn't care who thinks they are in charge. Republicans have no solutions for any of this.
Reality is inclusive and systems of exclusive gain at the expense of the whole are doomed to fail, as we are witnessing today. Like the caterpillar dissolving into goop to become the butterfly, the structure of our society is failing, no longer supported by the premise at its core: the myth of separation in a unity reality.
Vote as if this is the last election we will have. Vote for what you want, not against what you fear. We have more power than we know.