But the Framers didn’t stop there in their quest to protect the minority. They also gave us the U.S. Senate, the most anti-democratic and unrepresentative body in the Western world, where states with more cows than people are accorded up to 60 times the legislative authority of our most heavily populated state.
This misbegotten minority rule monstrosity has taken its abuse of the will of the majority several steps beyond common sense, inventing the filibuster, yet a further deviation from democratic principles. The filibuster guarantees that a simple majority can never get anything done. Thus, good legislation designed to improve American lives languishes in a Dante-esque Hell while the minority gloats.
Moreover, the U.S. Senate lends itself to malicious manipulation by an ethically challenged leader intent on stealing Supreme Court appointments at every opportunity. Mitch McConnell did this twice: (1) first arguing that a president cannot be allowed to appoint a Justice in an election year, which subjected Merrick Garland to the indignity of floundering in limbo for eight months with nary a hearing on his nomination; (2) next by ramming the eleventh hour Barrett nomination through the Senate a week before a presidential election. McConnell’s hypocrisy is unprecedented and unbounded.
Which brings us to the Extreme (formerly Supreme) Court. Six ultra-conservative justices have plunged the Third Branch down a rabbit hole of reaction and reduced the institution to just another political tool exploitable by the minority Republican cult determined to take America back to the Dark Ages and dismantling our democracy (such as it is). In less than a week, the Court (1) for the first time wrested away a constitutional right, (2) put even more guns on the street at a time when mass shootings are at epidemic levels, (3) eviscerated the boundaries between religion and the state, (4) yanked away the hard-won rights granted Oklahoma Native Americans just a few years ago, and (5) indulged in climate change denial worthy of the most brazen Republican deniers. The aggregate consequence of three of these pronouncements, wildly out of sync with popular opinion, is that many more people will die of back-alley abortions, gun violence and polluted air.
Blame for this tragic turn of events does not rest solely with a criminal former president, a devious Mitch McConnell, an odious Clarence and Ginni Thomas or any of the other fossils who comprise the pantheon of right-wing villains. It also lies squarely with Democrats. When Barack Obama became president, he dumped Howard Dean as chair of the Democratic National Committee. This was a gargantuan mistake. Dean had focused his time, attention, energy and resources on building up the Democratic Party at the state and local levels. Obama, however, did not care about anything down-ballot, preferring to focus his full attention and donor dollars solely on his own re-election. The consequence was that more than 1,000 state legislative seats flipped from Democrat to Republican during Obama’s eight years in the White House. Those same legislators today control gerrymandering that skews their state legislative and congressional delegations disproportionately in favor of Republicans and the power to enact laws that suppress Democratic votes, put more guns in the hands of dangerous people, advance an extremist “pro-life” agenda (which becomes a pro-death agenda after birth), and take other steps to make America a global outlier and medieval sinkhole.
Similarly, while Republicans concentrated tremendous energy and resources in taking control of the courts, Democrats twiddled their thumbs, never taking the threat seriously. Consequently, Republicans now enjoy a 50-year head start when it comes to court packing.
Massive street protests against the Extreme Court’s epidemic of horrible recent decisions on abortion, guns, religion, minority rights and the environment are fine if you want to go home feeling good about venting. However, they do nothing to change the equation. The only way to effect change and stop the Republican regression into the Dark Ages is at the ballot box. Dems must use the power of the vote…before Republicans completely take that away too.
July 2, 2022