This is the year the bad guys showed their true colors.
It’s the year when the differences between Vladimir Putin and, say, Samuel Alito proved to be only a matter of degree.
Both seek cruelty for its own sake. Both impose the will of the privileged few on the horrified many. Both take toxic Christianity and white supremacy to levels not seen in centuries.
And neither Putin nor Alito can be stopped. Not by anyone, not by any apparent means.
Alito is, of course, just one of the five Putin wannabes on our Supreme Court, but he might be the most Putinous of the bunch — the one with the most contempt for democracy and those who practice it.
The leaked draft he wrote for the reversal of Roe v. Wade is shocking, not for its content — which has long been expected — but for its smug tone, its abominable take on history, and its sneering disdain for any American who’s not male, white, straight, and Christian. And, oh yes, Republican.
I’ve long wondered about those “mainstream” Republicans — the McConnells, Grahams, Grassleys, etc. — who’ve spent decades patiently packing the Supreme Court with unapologetic ideologues. Did they really think it through? Did they really know what they were getting into?
Ending Roe is the only long-term promise they have ever made to their voting base, but it was never a promise they intended to keep. Why would they actually do something, when just promising to do it is so effective? Now they’ll have to actually do it, which could be a problem.
As I’ve said before, Republicans have never cared about abortion, except when their girlfriends are pregnant. As a political issue, it was never more than a means to an end, a con they could work, over and over, to fool their base of deplorables into thinking abortion matters.
But evidently those five radical justices never got the memo. They are clearly not in on the con. Taking down Roe is serious business to them, and they’re not about to miss their chance just because there’s a midterm election looming. In its descent into fascism, the Court is now far out in front of the Republican party.
Which leaves the party itself to face a truly pissed-off electorate. I don’t sympathize. They weren’t careful what they wished for, and now they’re up against a blizzard of backlash that even Fox News will find hard to contain.
Because killing Roe is, in its own way, the GOP equivalent of the invasion of Ukraine. Both are bad ideas gone wrong.
Both are utterly nonsensical from any rational, let alone philosophical, perspective. Both stem from wildly reactionary worldviews that promote racist, misogynist, and homophobic ideas that only a sick few could subscribe to. Both are unworkable in any legal, financial, or political construct. Both trade the real morality of human compassion for the fake morality of religious crankery. Both punish the truth, while rewarding misinformation, corruption, and blindness to consequence.
And both will impose onerous burdens — economic and social — on their populations and their governments.
It didn’t have to be this way. In the years following the Roe decision, abortion was, more-or-less, a settled issue. A few parochial-school Catholics whined about it, but even the Southern Baptist Conference — as conservative a group as you’ll find — was fine with it.
Then Paul Weyrich, the patron saint of Republican wingnut propaganda, decided to use abortion as a wedge issue, a made-to-order way of getting Catholics and evangelicals to vote Republican forever. Weyrich and his henchmen put fetuses on television, branded Democrats as murderers, and made “right to life” the most Orwellian rallying cry ever printed on a poster. Almost single-handedly, Weyrich invented the one-issue voter.
Of course, those who thought they were voting to end abortion were really voting for tax cuts and deregulation — two things that meant nothing to them, but everything to the billionaires who own the party. And then Alito changed the game, signalling to the world that the Court intended to deliver what had so long been promised.
Now Republicans have their hands full. And their problem isn’t just Democrats — mostly it’s their own people. Because the party has split into two equally crazy, but mutually hostile groups.
The national crazies — the GOP congressmen and senators — are loudly and publicly appalled, not at the substance of the draft ruling, but at its untimely leak. This is the only thing McConnell and Fox News want to talk about. Their fear is that all the gerrymandering and voter suppression they’ve worked so hard to achieve might not be enough to save them if millions of angry voters call for their heads.
Meanwhile, the state crazies — the red state legislators — are going in the opposite direction. They’re falling all over each other in a mad rush to enact the most medieval, most draconian, most misogynistic laws that have ever emerged from any supposedly liberal democracy.
So who wins this battle between two sets of Republican crazies?
Democrats, hopefully, though it’s far from a sure thing. Call it a glimmer of hope. Because all this is happening at the same time that the Jan 6 committee is gearing up for its televised hearings, which might just be the blockbuster entertainment of the summer.
Yes, Fox News may yet find a way to contain the damage in time for the midterms. And yes, the Putinish subversion of voting rights and free elections may yet allow them to slither out from under this rock that has landed on them.
But it won’t be because they’ve won the hearts and minds of Americans. If there was ever an issue sure to galvanize people — left, center, and even right — abortion would be it. Over seventy percent of us think abortion for any reason is a basic right, and I’m sure that number has grown in the last week.
Meanwhile, the GOP reminds us of the Russian oligarchs who were so surprised by Putin’s invasion. Incredibly, Republicans have been just as surprised by Alito’s draft, and by the imminent end of Roe. As if they hadn’t been planning for it for forty years.
So now they’re the dog that caught the car. They never weighed the consequences of the idiotic path they were on. And now they’re poised to reap the whirlwind that, in any sane world, would render them thoroughly discredited and forever irrelevant.
Which is a lovely fantasy, but don’t hold your breath.