This is Happening Here and Now: Fight Back

It’s been amusing to watch keyboard warriors and commentators claim to know why an early draft was leaked of the right-wing United States Supreme Court (hereafter “the Court”) decision to abolish women’s constitutional right to an abortion and to place the legality of abortions completely in the hands of state governments.

One school says that the leaker was a liberal who wants to give the citizenry time to mobilize against a horrific decision backed by just a quarter of the populace. The idea here would be to spark backlash before the final decision so as to make one of the right-wing justices (most likely Kavanaugh or Gorsuch) waver before his vote is locked in.

A different take holds that the right leaked the draft decision to “test the waters” of popular response and/or to prematurely lock justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh into a final anti-abortion ruling and/or to spark protests sooner rather than later so as to increase the time between popular resistance and the mid-term U.S, elections next fall.

I don’t discount the second possibility, but people who claim to know the real story behind the frankly remarkable leak are kidding themselves. Don’t expect definitive evidence anytime soon if ever.

In the meantime, five things seem perfectly clear:

+1. The Republifascist right wing of this country aims to abolish women’s right to control their reproductive lives not just in twenty-five or so red and purple states but across the entire country. The patriarchal white-nationalist, Christian fascist party of Trump, DeSantis, Taylor-Greene, and Abbot et al. has the Court in place to bring this about. It is primed to take back the national legislative branch (Congress) in November. If it gets the trifecta by winning back the White House in 2024, a real possibility, it could well be game over for abortion rights in all fifty states.

+2. The Republifascists are not content to go only after abortion rights. The draft decision in Jackson v. Dobbs is an assault on all liberal legal precedent. With the super-judicial-review empowered Court in its pocket along with much of the rest of the nation’s judicial structure, the Amerikaner right can be expected to assault numerous other hard-won personal, civil, and democratic rights “going forward” (into the abyss of MAGA backwardness). The undoing of Roe v. Wade is just one big thread of a much larger human rights and social justice yarn ball the Republikaners aim to unravel. The nation’s rightmost major party is not “conservative.” It is radical: radically revanchist and reactionary.

+ 3. The dismal Dems, the other major capitalist party, and its allied civil society institutions (the list includes Planned Parenthood, the Women’s March, and NARAL) continue to richly enable this Biblical fascist assault on human rights, decency, and democracy by failing to mobilize millions in the streets beneath and beyond the savagely time-staggered big money electoral extravaganzas they sell to the masses as the only politics that matters. This corporate-captive party of inauthentic opposition fears the rabble – the angry mass of oppressed citizens – more than it fears the United States’ descent into patriarchal, white-supremacist late fascism. It insists on turning every nonfascist popular movement that arises into a Get Out the Vote campaign for tepid neoliberal Democrats, sucking real and incipient social movements into the killing confines of an electoral politics and policy order that is rigged for right-wing Minority Rule (more on this below). And many top and middling Dems are cynically looking forward to Roe’s official reversal because they think it will help them win the mid-terms (it won’t).

Sign up now with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

+4. Even if the last version of the second leak narrative discussed above is accurate, it’s time to shoot past the controlling conservatism of the elitist, dollar-drenched, mob-fearing Democratic misleaders to rise up in the streets and public squares in sustained mass resistance to the absurdly right-wing Court’s determination to re-impose the de facto female enslavement of forced motherhood. Untold millions of women’s lives will be irreparably harmed, some even terminated, by the undoing of Roe. In a post-Roe America, untold millions of children will be born to mothers and fathers who cannot or will not raise them in proper and healthy fashion. The price will fall especially hard on poor and minority, nonwhite mothers and families, who are short on resources required for travel for abortions to “blue” and purple states that haven’t yet abolished women’s reproductive freedom. And, to repeat, the leaked draft Jackson v. Dobbs ruling is full of dire implications for other basic hard won human and civil rights victories including gay marriage, the right to vote, and much more.

+5. Jackson v. Dobbs is just the latest in a long line of developments that should lead US citizens to stop referring to their own country as a “democracy.” The USA is no such thing. On one issue after another – gun control, universal government health insurance, the distribution of wealth, union organizing rights, climate change, and the list goes on and on – majority public opinion does not remotely translate into policy in the nation that routinely describes itself as the homeland, headquarters, and global agent of “democracy.”

Look at the abortion issue. Roe (women’s constitutional right to abortions) has been consistently backed by two-thirds to three-fourths of the US citizenry since the women’s movement forced the Court decision in 1973. It still has super-majority backing in the US. But so what? The high court is occupied by a right-wing 6-3 super majority that stands in direct opposition to public opinion. Its members are appointed for life by presidents who are voted into office not by majority popular vote but through the openly undemocratic mechanism called the Electoral College, which gives undue weight to the nation’s most reactionary states and regions and reduces US presidential elections to a small number of “contested states.”

Supreme Court nominees are subjected to appointment veto by an extremely powerful upper legislative branch (the US Senate) that vastly overrepresents the nation’s most reactionary regions and states since – in a direct violation of the core democratic principle of one person, one vote – the US Constitution grants two representatives (US Senators) to every state regardless of their population size (California, home to nearly 40 million, and Wyoming, home to less than 600,000, both have two US Senators. If California had the same populace-to-US Senator ratio as Wyoming, in accord with “one person, one vote,” it would have more than thirty US Senators).

At the same time, the US grants massive autonomous social policymaking power to each of its fifty states. This leaves ample room for policy in key areas (reproductive rights, voting rights, health care, gun laws, environmental regulation, education, and much more) to diverge significantly from national majority opinion. It’s not for nothing that the big far right-wing funders and policy advocates like the Koch brothers have focused heavily on state politics in their war on social justice, environmental regulation, and democracy over the last four decades. “States’ rights” have long provided cover for deeply reactionary policy enacted in defiance of the national majority.

MSDNC hacks like the former US Senate staffer Lawrence O’Donnell bitch about how ordinary Americans supposedly have themselves to blame for the right-wing takeover of the Court because they “failed” to vote in sufficient numbers to secure Electoral College victories for depressing and demobilizing Democrats like Michael Dukakis (1988), Al Gore (2000), and the “lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary Clinton (2016). O’Donnell and his elitist media-politics ilk will never look seriously at how right-wing Minority Rule is written into the very institutional structure of a governance order constructed by and for late 18th Century slaveholders, merchant capitalists, tenant lords, and publicists for whom democracy was the ultimate nightmare.

Win or lose (the odds are heavily on the side of the latter) the (very uphill) fight to preserve Roe needs to spark a frankly revolutionary confrontation with how US politics, policy, and society are structured and whose interests its deeply conservative governance order serve. This is not a democracy in any but the most limited and negative sense of “not yet a full on fascist authoritarian state.” Thanks to its capitalist ownership and its amazingly durable aristo-republican set-up, the US governance order cripples and discredits democracy in ways could well deliver such a nightmare state in the world’s most powerful nation quite soon. Things are smelling very Weimar Germany right now in your 21st Century “homeland” (what a lovely imperial terms), my fellow US-Americans.

For what it’s worth, Adolf Hitler made a special point of seizing initial power within and through the German constitutional bourgeois-democratic order before he enacted history’s most horrific dictatorship.

Think it can’t happen here? Think again. It’s happening right now, with help from Weimar Dems, some of whom quietly welcome the reversal of Roe because they think it will help them keep Congress next November. It won’t.

Once again, sign up now with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. Being planning now to participate in a massive May 14 Day of Action to protect Roe (for starters) from the right-wing assault.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).