Food for Thought: A Broader View of the Roe v Wade decision
Oped by Carol Willis
Heather Cox Richardson, an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, presented a very interesting interpretation of the importance of Roe v Wade being overturned. It was so compelling that it is worth asking everyone to think about the points she made. Many people who read this might have similar feelings. The ones who see this are not the ones who need to see it. This is a paraphrase of her words.
The Supreme Court's decision to overturn the case of Roe v Wade is a harbinger of what could still be coming, and it is important that we take a deeper look at the implications of this decision.
Because this decision actually took away rights from a sector of the American population (something the court has never done), the court is basically telling us that we no longer have a government that is defending democracy.
During the 1920s, Republicans put businessmen (the majority of whom were wealthy white men) in charge of the government, got rid of many taxes, and believed that the country would run incredibly well and that fortunes would grow. They believed the wealth and favors of the business leaders would flow down to all ordinary citizens and we would all live happily ever after. These leaders established clear boundaries for race, gender, religion, and ethnicity in an attempt to create a stable world that was best for everyone.
Unfortunately, these boundaries excluded most of the citizens of the country. The ultimate result of this business-run government was the Crash of 1929. By 1932, the population began to demand a government that responded to ordinary working people.
From about 1933 until 1981, our government worked to ensure that everyone had a level economic playing field in which everyone had a chance to work hard and prosper. It built and put in place many benefits, including an infrastructure, secure banks, and many government agencies designed to meet the needs of all citizens.
In the 1950s, the Supreme Court began to expand civil rights to increase the power of the federal government to be sure that a small group of white men could not dominate their black neighbors.
The Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 was designed to ensure that individual states cannot take away constitutional rights. It was used to overrule laws that the Supreme Court considered discriminatory. It in essence said American people had the right to personal lives and that decisions such as reproduction and marriage should not be intruded on by states.
The right to an abortion was protected by the right to privacy that was founded by the Supreme Court in the attempt to make sure that states don't pass laws that are discriminatory. This is the crux of the matter.
Roe is merely a symbol of a project the Republicans have been pushing since Reagan. That project is to get rid of the federal protections that level the economic playing field, give citizens a basic social safety net, infrastructure, and civil rights. In other words, abortion rights is not the issue. The issue is power and who has it.
If the federal government can't override states, that means all democracy should take place at a state level. This is an originalist argument from the Supreme Court. That means states can decide who gets the vote, and when you are powerful and wealthy, it is easy to get "your people" elected at the state level.
This has allowed a radical minority of Republicans to use the filibuster and extensive gerrymandering to leverage the right to vote so that they have far more power than Democrats. When the power goes back to the states, a very few people have a lot of power, and those with money have even more power.
The federal government began to delegate power to the executive branch to house agencies such as the EPA, Social Security, and Medicare within that branch of Congress. And by taking the federal government out of the social welfare of its citizens, those agencies will eventually be dismantled.
When the Supreme Court sends questions back to the states to be decided, it takes power away from the federal government.
By ruling, for example, that states must use public monies for religious education, it tears down the very important wall between separation of church and state--a fundamental basic of the constitution.
What we are witnessing is the radicalization of the government. A very radical religious minority are imposing their will on the vast majority of American citizens. They are forming a hierarchical society in which white guys run everything. They are garnering power by stirring up fear over the most minor or issues such as critical race theory.
We can no longer look the other way and hope that the system is going to hold. The religious minority has packed the Supreme Court with judges who will dismantle the federal government.
Is it coincidental that our former president and his Republican supporters have worked to overturn our democracy at the same time the Supreme Court justices were put in place by the very people destroying our rights? Keep in mind, there are no ethics rules for Supreme Court justices.
The awful truth is that no one is going to save us from us; therefore, it is extremely important that we not give up by thinking it is too late and that we have lost everything. It is much harder to reclaim a democracy when you have let it go.
What has happened to democracy? What has happened to majority rule--to equality before the law and to equal access to resources?
Believe it or not, but when this very scenario happened in 1851, protesters organized and peacefully pushed back. In the mid-terms of 1851, they stood on the bedrock conservative principles that we are all created equal and have a right to consent to the government under which we live, and they swept the elections.
It is our turn to speak up. It is time to organize and to peacefully push back. It is time for our voices to be heard at every level of government from the bottom up and across all boundary lines. It is time for rational thought--not hysterical extremism. It is time for conversations with our friends and neighbors.
We, as Democrats, are the last best hope for saving our beloved country from a theocracy or autocracy. There are more of us than them. There are more decent, thoughtful, law-abiding citizens than there are radical extremists.