Behind the rise of every tyrant, you’ll find legions of sycophants and Machiavellian opportunists. Rabid hyenas jumping from scapegoat to scapegoat, engorging themselves by feasting on the dignity of others. However, perhaps even more reprehensible, you have those who realize the threat and choose to do nothing. For some, this spawns from apathy, a sense that their lives will remain unchanged regardless of who is in power. For others, it boils down to misguided idealism, the belief that the sheer power of their pretentiousness can somehow alter reality. Unfortunately, this short-sightedness carries tremendous risk, with the most vulnerable segments of society forced to shoulder the consequences.
After the bloodbath in Orlando, liberals of every stripe flooded the Internet with calls of compassion and support for the LGBT community. Indeed, many of those who used the hashtags #LoveWins and #Gunsense also routinely invoke #BernieOrBust and #JillNotHill. Sadly, the latter renders the former emptier than thoughts and prayers from the GOP. Of course, these individuals will take offense to such a sentiment, pointing out judicial success despite a right wing stranglehold on the bench. On the surface, this seems to be a reasonable defense. For instance, in 2015, the LGBT community emerged victorious in the long struggle for marriage equality. However, this logic erodes once you realize such a basic human dignity resulted from a single swing vote by Justice Kennedy.
As of now, there are three justices over the age 79 (Ginsberg, Kennedy and Breyer), all of which routinely vote in favor of LGBT rights. If even one of these are replaced by the Donald, marriage equality will have little chance of surviving future challenges. Keep in mind, Trump has openly stated his intention of seeking out Justices that embody Scalia’s judicial philosophy, as made painfully obvious by his list of proposed nominees. Moreover, let’s not forget the fact that right wing culture warriors are waging a crusade against transgender Americans, perfectly illustrated by North Carolina’s bathroom laws. Considering corporate boycotts and public outrage have failed to make GOP lawmakers (all of which benefit from statewide gerrymandering) see reason, SCOTUS will likely be the only remedy.
Gun Sense: Requires More Than Keyboard Warriors
Although pleas for gun control have become trendy, they are essentially meaningless without five sympathetic Justices. This was witnessed in 2008, with a 5-4 decision rendering Washington’s attempt at curbing gun violence unconstitutional. Yet, just two years later, another 5-4 decision in McDonald v. the City of Chicago gave both sides something to cheer about. Despite preventing an outright handgun ban, Justice Alito noted that the decision did not affirm a right to “keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Still, the ruling left plenty of unanswered questions. A key one, in particular, revolves around whether or not the 2nd Amendment prevents cities from banning firearms in public. This issue has since been addressed by the 9th Circuit District Court, with the NRA suffering a crushing defeat.
In the case, Peruta v. the City of San Diego, the plaintiff (backed by the NRA) argued that the state government’s strict conceal carry requirements made it nearly impossible for ordinary residents to possess firearms outside of their home, thus posing an undue burden on their Constitutional right. In no uncertain terms, the ruling states “Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protections of the Second Amendment—whatever the scope of that protection may be—simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public.” Unsurprisingly, this rubbed the NRA the wrong way, with the organization vowing to fight the decision tooth and nail. As such, this is but one of many gun control issues that will land in the lap of the Supreme Court. Even if an exorcism is performed on the senate and gun violence gets tackled via legislation, the vast resources of the NRA ensure that any attempts at gun sense will inevitably be at the mercy of nine Justices. This is especially true in regards to extended background checks and assault rifle bans.
A Nation of Immigrants, So Long As They Are White
Right now, millions of families are living in a constant state of fear. Dehumanized and shamed, rendered criminals for wishing to enjoy the simple liberties that so many of us take for granted. As half the nation succumbs to an orange demonic influence, it is these individuals who are forced to withstand the brunt of its wrath. With the recent split decision in U.S. v. Texas, executive action aimed at preserving the dignity of immigrant families has been dealt a crippling blow.
DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents), as the name implies, is designed to temporarily shield immigrant parents from being ripped out of their homes and separated from their American children. Far from a path to citizenship, it merely grants the temporary ability to work and pay taxes, thereby allowing the U.S. government to rescue billions from the shadow economy. However, in spite of the executive branch having the Constitutional authority to grant deferments on an individual basis, four conservative Justices insisted the power could not be extended broadly due to a vague bureaucratic technicality. Resulting from this partisan tie, the decisions of the lower courts were upheld, thereby threatening the stability of millions of American children. Given the GOP’s refusal to tackle immigration in any meaningful way, a Trump stacked Supreme Court would extinguish all remaining hope for decades.
Suppression of the Minority Vote
Democracy is a brilliant idea, but without integrity, it is merely a Trojan Horse for oppression. In the age of data analytics, this is amplified tenfold, with those in power possessing tools capable of boiling voter disenfranchisement down to a science. Not surprisingly, North Carolina leads the way, masterfully masking discrimination under the guise of thoughtful concern. Simply enforcing strict voter I.D. requirements was not enough for this state’s legislature. Instead, they requested a comprehensive analysis of voting characteristics based on race and then proceeded to target traits overwhelmingly exhibited by minorities. For instance, after noticing that African Americans dominated the first 7 days of early voting, these right wing nut jobs decided to remove those dates entirely. The same holds true for same day registration.
Fortunately, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decided not to blind themselves to reality, unanimously condemning and overturning the law. Still, North Carolina Republicans aren’t ones to give up bigotry without a fight. As such, a future session of the Supreme Court will likely decide the matter. Should Trump get a few nominations under his belt, NC’s anti-voting law may very well become the gold standard, setting a dangerous precedent for lawmakers all across the nation.
Although many anti-voting laws have been corrected in the courts, corporate electioneering remains stronger than ever. Capitalizing on America’s greed and gullibility, special interests of every stripe have made an artform out playing the role of kingmaker. This, in large part, is due to the controversial 2010 decision in Citizens United vs FEC. Despite beginning as a simple case concerning the legality of a right wing propaganda flick, Justice Roberts got the bright idea of restructuring the argument to undermine decades of campaign finance reform. As a result, a 5-4 partisan split officially transformed corporations into people, thereby broadening the definition of “free speech” to include the purchasing of politicians. Indeed, perhaps more than any other public figure, Bernie Sanders has passionately rallied against this gross butchering of democratic ideals. Nonetheless, some of his supporters seem to have not received the message.
Regardless of whether or not it makes you feel warm fuzzies, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be president. In terms of the latter, his proposed list of nominees are all guaranteed to uphold the court’s warped interpretation. Of course, Bernie or Busters and Stein Bots will be quick to point to Hillary’s own influx of corporate cash, asserting that she has a strong incentive to ensure the status quo. What they fail to realize, however, is that pragmatism demands that she appoints left leaning Justices. Moreover, considering Citizens United spawned over a malicious film aimed at taking her down, seeing it overturned would undoubtedly provide sweet vindication.
Unfortunately, a woman’s autonomy over her own body is still under siege. with the Supreme Court often serving as the final line of defense. Earlier this year, for example, SCOTUS struck down several laws that were blatantly designed to obliterate reproductive freedom. Yet, once again, disgruntled liberals cite this success as an excuse for pissing away their vote. What these electoral parasites fail to realize, however, is that the decision would have been drastically different if Scalia waited just a little bit longer to take a dirt nap. In fact, while pandering to zealots, Mike Pence proudly pointed out that Roe v. Wade would not survive a Trump stacked SCOTUS. With the next POTUS potentially appointing 4 Justices, it would be foolish to dismiss these words as an empty threat.
Love may trump hate, but only if the issue is forced at the ballot box. Otherwise, it doesn’t stand a chance. For some, this election seems like a sick joke, some demented parody of House of Cards or Scandal. However, beneath the sensationalism, progressives will find only one sensible option. For the first time since John F. Kennedy, a left-leaning president may have the opportunity to replace a conservatively appointed Justice. This isn’t trivial, nor is it some scare tactic to dismiss: it is basic civics. Should the temper tantrum of the extreme left usher in a Trump administration, the judicial consequences will be felt for decades. None of us invented the two-party system, but it’s what we have. Stop talking in abstracts, as no amount of philosophical meandering justifies rendering progress itself the collateral damage of a protest vote.