They Did It: Now They Must Pay the Price
There are few events that fundamentally shake the entire body politic, but last week’s leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, reportedly already signed onto by four other justices, is definitely one of them. It’s changed the way we think about many things.
We used to think the rights we fought so hard for, once obtained, were secure forever. No longer. We knew Republicans had promised for decades to overturn Roe v. Wade, but we never thought they’d actually do it. Oh, yeah? We used to consider the Supreme Court an august, impartial, nonpolitical institution we could count on to uphold the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for every American. Forget it!
To which I’ll add this personal note: I also used to abhor “single issue” politics. There are so many important issues, I’d argue, it’s not fair to judge any candidate based on one issue alone. But Samuel Alito changed my mind. Here’s my new rule for the midterm elections.
Every candidate in 2022, for every office – Senate, House, governor, statewide office, or state legislature – should first have to answer one question: Do you support the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes or No? If No, I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat. You’re cruel. You’re out of step with the American people. You don’t get my vote.
That’s how important this issue is. For two reasons. First, for what it means to women. Remember, women were not guaranteed their rights in the Constitution. They had to fight for every one of them: the right to vote, the right to practice contraception, the right to decide for themselves when to have a child. Now the Trump court’s rolling back the clock. As a man-person, I can have a vasectomy in any one of 50 states. But as a women-person, if you get pregnant, even by rape or incest, you can only have an abortion if the white men who control your state say it’s OK. You’re back to being only half a citizen.
Second reason: Because of what this means for other rights “unenumerated” in the Constitution. True, as Alito insists, the right to abortion’s not spelled out in the Constitution. But neither’s the right to practice contraception, or to love or marry someone of the same sex or different race. Today, under the Alito-Thomas-Gorsuch-Kavanaugh-Barrett logic, all of those rights could be wiped out. For the extreme Trump court, this is just the opening act in their zeal to destroy long-held individual freedoms.
I’m sure you’ve noted that, now that they’re on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, Republicans suddenly don’t want to talk about abortion. They say they’d rather talk about inflation or critical race theory. Donald Trump, who brags about everything, has hardly mentioned it. The National Republican Senatorial Committee even circulated a document warning Republican Senate candidates: “Abortion should be avoided as much as possible.”
No way! We can’t let Republicans get away with ducking this issue. This is their baby. Killing Roe v. Wade has been the centerpiece of their party platform for decades. It was the pledge of every Republican candidate running for office. It started with the appointment of Clarence Thomas and ended with Mitch McConnell’s refusing to schedule a hearing on Merrick Garland and ramming through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. It’s why evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics made a diabolical decision to support Donald Trump, a serial sexual predator. Because he promised to appoint only anti-abortion judges hand-picked by the Federalist Society.
Well, now Republicans have succeeded – and they must pay the price, starting this year. And the first polls conducted since the Alito leak show that, if Democrats make freedom of choice the number one issue in 2022, Republicans (and anti-choice Democrats) will have a steep political price to pay. According to a ABC News/Washington Post survey, 58 percent of Americans believe abortion should be “legal in all or most cases.” CNN found that 66 percent of Americans believe Roe v. Wade “should not be completely struck down.”
Even some Democrats criticized Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for scheduling a vote this week to make abortion legal, even though it was bound to fail. I disagree. I think that vote was important to remind the American people that, on this key issue, there is a profound difference between the two parties.
That was the first step. Now Democrats have to take that message to every House, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative race in the country.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of 10 books, including: “From the Left: My Life in the Crossfire.” His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.