Ever wonder why the color line in Major League Baseball (MLB) was not broken until 1947? 1947! A mere 71 years ago. A clear example of divisiveness but we’ll discuss divisiveness a bit later in this piece.
Ever wonder why it took the Supreme Court until 1954 to rule that separate but equal in our nation’s schools may be separate but is in no way equal?
Ever wonder why the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act needed to be enacted in the mid-1960s even though the Constitution is quite clear in protecting both of those issues?
Well, the answer to all of those questions is progress, real progress, which all too often takes a while to become entrenched in society. Yes, I will never fully understand or accept that progress should move at a snail’s pace. I find that concerning.
What I find more concerning, much more concerning, is the rapid pace that moving backwards and reversing the progress that has been achieved can move.
The list, at times, seems limitless. President Donald Trump leaving the global Paris Climate Agreement on combating climate change and, thereby, making the United States the only nation on this earth not part of the accord is clearly a step backwards. To make it even more disconcerting, he walked away from the Iran nuclear deal calling it the worst deal ever negotiated while never explaining why or how. Yet, he boasted that he achieved a deal with North Korea to end its nuclear proliferation program even though he failed to negotiate the slightest bit of inspection and verification found in the Iran deal.
Add to this the reversal of progress made on health care coverage, voting rights, environment protections, renewable energy, clean air and water, and so on and so on and so on. Further, add to this list the divisiveness fueled by Trump and his immigration policies. His administration’s zero-tolerance policy, resulting in the separation of children from their parents may be the greatest example of the depravity of our current president. All clearly major steps backwards.
What about his tax break that saw 83 percent of its benefits going to those in the top one percent of income? Any of the minimal benefits at the federal level, to the other 99 percent of taxpayers were gobbled up at the state level especially if you found yourself in one of the high-taxed blue states. To this, add blowing up the deficit since the tax break was unfunded and this president resorted to threatening the withholding of cost of living increases for the federal workforce to help pay for the tax break to the wealthy. Quite a step backwards.
The chase to the past doesn’t start and end, though, with Trump, as destructive to progress as his administration is. Simply eliminating regulations without any clue as to the purpose of those regulations may be his proudest accomplishment, but more than Trump, it is the Supreme Court that might actually present the greatest threat to progress as its so many recent decisions serve to turn back the clock on progress.
In recent years, the Roberts’ Supreme Court oversaw the gutting of the Voting Rights Act on the premise that racial discrimination is no longer an issue. Really? I think not. This same court is responsible for the Citizens United case, which opened the floodgates for dark money in our elections and the subsequent drowning out of the voice of the people by the wealth of the campaign donors.
This same court ruled in the Heller case that personal ownership of guns is a right protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution ignoring more than a century of court precedent which found no such protection in the Second Amendment. This decision effectively contributed to increasing the proliferation of guns in our society. As a country that accounts for about four percent of the world’s population yet more than 45 percent of gun ownership in the world, that court ruling should be truly troubling to anyone concerned with gun safety. Turn back the hands of time? Oh, yeah.
So, what’s next, you wonder? After successfully naming ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, we are now witnessing the likelihood that another ultra-conservative will be confirmed and advance as the next associate justice to the court, namely Brett Kavanaugh. The concern? Among many, a woman’s right to choose and the undermining of Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade, upheld some 44 years ago, was less about abortion per se, than it was about the protections of freedom and liberty and the rights of individuals, especially the right to make decisions relative to one’s own body, which is the very essence of the principles in and the protections of the Constitution.
When it comes to turning back the clock and going back in time to a period in which too many abortions were performed in the back alleyways, overturning Roe v. Wade is a classic example. Certainly making abortions more difficult to have or to even make them illegal will not eliminate them; it would only increase the likelihood of unnecessary deaths. So, you ask, where does Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s latest pick for the Supreme Court, stand on Roe v. Wade?
During questioning at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Judge Kavanaugh referred to birth control medication as “abortion-inducing drugs.” This is a position used by the far right to demonize birth control and pave the way for severe restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body.
“Turn back the hands of time” should be the campaign slogan of Republicans as we enter the 2018 midterm elections.