In the spirit of on-the-other-handedness, and in light of the Supreme Court taking away a Constitutional right for the first time in history, I thought I would take off my hope-tinted glasses for a moment and look at the dark side of unfolding events. In doing so I imagine scenarios I would never have considered a few years ago.
Making no prediction as to the likelihood of this scenario coming to pass, I will say it seems totally plausible and that it could unfold fairly quickly. In fact, it could be unfolding as we speak.
Not speaking about these risks aloud because they sound hyperbolic and alarmist is beginning to feel irresponsible and dangerous. If your mind, like mine, rebels at this future, rather than turning away consider the evidence and ask what, specifically, will keep it from occurring.
So, here is one all too possible course of events:
* Emboldened by recognition that an ideologically installed SCOTUS majority will have their back, Republican leadership sees little political downside in ignoring the embarrassing January 6 Committee findings and proceeds with an agenda to: 1) ensure they keep control of government with or without winning majority public support; 2) dismantle the authority and capability of the federal government to tax the wealthy, regulate industry, and govern for the collective benefit of all Americans; and 3) assert White Conservative Christian dominance of the country’s society and culture.
Supporting this agenda, the Court does not challenge states’ rights to create devices to avoid the outcomes of adverse popular votes, abandons the doctrine of separation of church and state, and doubles down on enabling individual and corporate wealth to dominate American policy and politics.
* A coalition of White and Christian nationalists, average racists and authoritarians, Trump’s personality cult, the Religious Right, Republican Party loyalists, and politicians fearing an increasingly aggressive base, all being well financed by Libertarians and oligarchs who equate democracy with Socialism, and backstopped by an activist Supreme Court handpicked to support this agenda, maintain sufficient political leverage to block all electoral efforts to stop them.
* The tone, goals, and methods of this coalition grow increasingly, lawless, angry, and violent. They ignore the interests and protests of the Left and Middle and dominate with increasing harshness.
* With the rule of law and democratic norms severely weakened, and force (whether political or physical) seen as a first and best response to opposition, Liberals and Progressives are disregarded and disrespected as impotent, and are impotent, emboldening the bullying nature of the authoritarian Right even more.
* The coalition has its way without concern or remorse for the destruction of the county’s democracy.
Within this scenario, two huge problems arise: 1) Where would enough resistance be found to re-establish democratic governance once an authoritarian Right has taken control of the levers of power, and 2) How would the country–and without U.S. leadership, the world–take the steps needed within the next decade to prevent the most devastating consequences of climate change?
Momentum toward this future has been building for years and appears to be accelerating; it will take significant sustained force to stop and reverse it. The January 6 Commission is providing powerful pushback, but it likely won’t be enough. The Dobbs decision has provided a similarly shocking moment of clarity, a startling example of a totalitarian future where rights and freedoms may be taken away at will by those in control. To those who think this is working just fine, I remind you that totalitarians are faithful only to themselves; when your interests and theirs diverge, you, too, will be without a voice.
If the thought of such a future offends you, this is the time to gather and resist, loudly and firmly, both publicly and in the privacy of the voting booth. Speak up for women’s equality and biological autonomy; for social, racial, and environmental justice; for citizens who are being gamed out of a meaningful right to vote; for election workers and public officials attacked for obeying the law and doing their duties; for conservatives who make sacrifices to call a lie a lie; for the right of communities to seek public safety from guns; for affordable healthcare and a more just distribution of resources; and for immediate action to mitigate the growing climate disaster. Speak up for a society that respects and attends to the interests of ALL its members. Insist on democracy, or risk losing it.