“Misinformation is a virus unto itself.”
― Brianna Keilar
In 2015 the arrival of Donald Trump on the political landscape seemed like a gift from the journalism gods. Here was a man with few filters and many delightfully bizarre and disturbing incidents in his past. The prospect of lampooning him grew like a festering boil on the pan head of every liberal/progressive who could string three sentences together in anything resembling a coherent thought. And did he deliver.
Trump’s win in 2016 gave America an unprepared, under educated, and amoral president with little or no interest in improving the lives of average Americans. Indeed, his modus operandi was antithetical to actions of most who served before him. From the beginning, Trump was a hot mess spread on a thin veneer of questionable success based mainly on his own statements highlighting his shady real estate career, success as a television reality show host, and by the support of those who willfully sold their souls to him for their own personal self-aggrandizement. From the time he took office to the time he left the White House shrouded in a grifter’s stew of lies, falsehoods, and shady dealings behind the scenes, he proved to be a flimflam artist on every level. He is and was a shameful man child with little recognition of anything that approximated the qualities of a competent leader or the truth.
Those heady days are gone along with America’s collective shock of what Trump and his associates really had in store for the country. As much as he was a bumbling, inept clown, his actions will have reverberations that last far longer than the memory of his criminality, or the surprise of just how much damage he sought to cause in his persistent attempts to hang on to the nation’s highest office. Yet, the die is cast, and the country has to come to grips with how to deal with it all.
As Americans saw recently with the actions of the Supreme Court, Trump crafted an extreme right-wing majority of likeminded justices that are wasting no time implementing their white, evangelical nationalism on the rest of the populace. With the overruling of Roe vs Wade, the court demonstrated how the conservative Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett are willing to steer the nation against the will of the American people. In the days following the demise of Roe vs Wade, the Court issued rulings that struck down a gun control law in New York state, and weakened the wall between church and state by sanctioning prayer on school grounds. Restricting the EPA’s ability to monitor and fight climate change was simply icing on the cake. And this is just the beginning.
It is hard to believe that the emotionally and intellectually challenged former president even understood the effect his actions would produce. It is even harder to believe that he cared. Appointing three radical personalities to the high court is a politically expedient act meant to throw red meat to his crazed followers to shore up their support. Still, while expected, the sweeping rulings by the court and the breadth of their impact on American society caught many off guard.
As bad as these early rulings are, they portend even more egregious decisions in the offing. Gay rights, gay marriage, eliminating contraceptive rights, immigration restrictions, race in college admissions, voting rights, and of course, free speech are all in the crosshairs in next year’s Supreme Court docket. To use a crass overstatement, the court has become the ultra-right’s lurid wet dream. The possibilities are far reaching and frightening. The next year will be crucial to the continuance of our democracy.
Why the urgency? Americans have to awaken to the fact that the Republican Party no longer supports the will of the people. They are the party of big business, the one percent, and are rapidly becoming the party of white nationalists, rabid evangelicals, and power-hungry insurrectionists willing to sell the nation out to fulfill their unpatriotic agenda. It is necessary to point out that the few sane Republicans left in the party’s ranks have been duped into believing that America is not great, and Trump has the answer to the ills facing the nation. He doesn’t, and therein lies the rub.
A steady diet of Fox News, slanted conservative talking points, and a fear of becoming irrelevant in the face of growing numbers of brown skinned people has the MAGA crowd peeing their pants and closing their ears to the truth. The Republican Party has been playing the long game from at least the point when the Supreme Court gave George W. Bush the presidency despite Al Gore winning the popular vote. The decision highlighted the need to scrap the Electoral College in lieu of using the popular vote as a barometer of where the nation’s consensus lay. Despite Barack Obama’s eight years in office, Congress skewed right setting the stage for Mitch Mc Connell’s crusade to pack the court with conservative judges to set up the current state of affairs America finds itself in today.
This is why the next year will be so crucial. Given the Court’s actions over the past month, Americans can expect more of their rights trampled upon and severely restricted. Conservatives know the actions of the court will bring on an onslaught of dissention among liberals and moderates. Still, expect the court to act in flagrant disregard of the will of the people. They believe that if they can pass crippling voting rights restrictions, shore up the states’ abilities to question election results, and marginalize entire blocs of voters, they will have gained control of the government despite the Democrats being in charge of both chambers of Congress.
Yet, conservatives understand their playbook is little more than a governmental game of chicken; a game they have to win next year. Conservatives know they are walking a slippery slope. The justices have one shot at reconstructing America’s democratic process. A half-hearted attempt in 2023 to legislate by judicial decree would place them in an untenable position. Liberals and moderates would rise up and punish them at the ballot box in 2024. Republicans are playing for all the marbles in this game, and they are playing to win. Anything less than a tumultuous year of judicial decrees further cementing them into power would be unthinkable. Expect the fireworks to begin on October 3 of this year when the 2023 Supreme Court begins their deliberations in reshaping America in their image. It will be interesting if not pretty.