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The Plan Is That There Is No Plan
In the wake of the fall of Roe V. Wade, the relative silence has been deafening. Our political and economic classes are preparing us to live in this new oppressive era
Dispatches From A Collapsing State is an independent media venture and home for my political, historical, and cultural writings. I depend on your support to keep this thing going. If you appreciate my work and want access to additional content (including an upcoming lecture series that will function as a primer to hopefully get people up to speed on what’s happening), please subscribe. As this article details, we are in a really, really dangerous situation that’s getting worse by the day. It’s time to marshall our efforts.
They had fifty-four days to think of something, anything, following a leak of Samuel Alito’s opinion to Politico revealing the Supreme Court intended to overthrow the fifty year precedent of Roe V. Wade. That’s more than a month and a half to prepare a plan to mitigate the damage or at least foster an appropriate response. And what did they do?
They prepared a fundraising blitz.
And when it happened? President Joe Biden called it a “sad day” and offered no solutions or responses beyond telling the people who voted for him in 2020, the people who worked around-the-clock to secure a Democratic majority in Congress that is currently doing less than nothing to address the problem, “Roe is on the ballot in November.”
Sure. Maybe. But what does that even mean in an environment where Republicans are disenfranchising voters, fixing elections, and the best Biden and Democrats have offered in a response is a hope those efforts could be “out-organized.” It means to continue a cycle of slamming into a brick wall and never, ever question for a moment what sense it all makes or if something different could lead to different outcomes.
Meanwhile, the aftermath of the ruling has been telling. Protests around the country were met swiftly with force by law enforcement primed by absurd warnings of “domestic terrorism” and the “possibility of widespread violence.” There’s been an expected anger arising from social media, but social media itself is designed and tuned explicitly to harness such anger and process it into a commodity lacking actual energy or potential. The same corporations that people have consistently turned to for responses to Republican extremism aren’t publicly opposing the regression but promising to “pay travel costs” for their Red State employees should they need to seek reproductive care elsewhere.
It’s time to face facts: there is no plan. There is no response beyond the usual liturgy we’ve come to expect. The problem presented by the Supreme Court - being constructed, explicitly, as the rest of our institutions are, for minority rule by the powerful over the masses - is intractable considering current political allignments and conditions. To effectively combat this, should Democratic politicians or the powerful actually even want this in the first place, is nearly impossible.
And so, we must also wrestle with another increasingly obvious truth.
We are being prepared to live with the fall of Roe V. Wade and the coming authoritarian order.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was one of the first Democratic leaders to respond to the ruling on Friday. Her regular presser was scheduled in the morning and the plan was to tout the bipartisan gun legislation and mark the anniversary of Title IX. When Pelosi took the podium, she was obviously rattled and unsettled. Her voice shook as she decried the “radical Republicans” who had overtaken the Supreme Court and warned of their “dark, extreme goal” of banning abortions outright.
And then, something bizarre happened.
She transitioned, as planned, to discussing the bipartisan legislation. She praised Republican colleagues for working with Democrats. Somehow, some way, the same party that had just taken away a right, the same party with “dark, extreme” goals, was transformed into a potential political ally in actually governing the country.
We hear these appeals regularly. Pelosi has repeatedly called for the need for a “strong Republican Party.” In the run-up to the 2020 Election, Biden predicted the GOP would have an “epiphany” once Donald Trump was defeated and has spent the past two years assuring everyone that rational Republicans would eventually work with him and lead the party back from the edge.
It isn’t enough to simply say the Democratic Party isn’t the party we need at the moment. That’s apparent. Leadership is out of touch and operating as if they are still existing within the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The way in which the GOP has mutated and grown to a full-blown authoritarian movement is treated as either an aberration or a political strategy that obscures a Machiavellian rationality.
The response of “remember in November” is indicative of the type of worldview that now permeates the Democratic Party. GOP extremism, still seen as a political feint, isn’t seen as an existential threat but “bad strategy.” That conviction is so strong that the Democratic Party is literally spending donations given with the intention of fighting authoritarianism to help the most extreme Republicans win their primaries around the country. It seems they have learned absolutely nothing from the 2016 perception that Donald Trump was the preferred opponent that backfired so terribly.
None of this is a game. Real lives are already being affected. People are going to die. Lives are going to be ruined. And as it is treated as some political chess match - a chess match, I should mentioned, the Democratic Party is laughably terrible at to begin with - the possibility grows that this situation will simply not be addressed.
Well, not solved anyway.
The downfall of America is so nauseatingly banal.
There is just no reason whatsoever that an existential, societal crisis should have a similar feeling to purchasing airline tickets or waiting in line while premium members board. But it is. Because neoliberalism has unleashed untold destruction paired with corporate profit schemes that create new “disruptions” and “market opportunities” as suffering mounts.
Post-Roe America is already witnessing the feasting of the market on human tragedy. The race by corporations to lure workers based on “perks” like paying for out-of-state reproductive care is telling because it represents the speed by which the market reacts to every crisis and every suffering by offering “solutions” for a price. In the end, the middle and upper classes will most definitely still be able to secure abortions, and will probably rely on boutique services that will arise to meet the demand, while the poor and vulnerable shoulder the consequences.
And that’s because they live in “Standard America.” If they had worked harder, had they chosen the right field, had they attended the right college, had they simply prospered as others have, they could afford “Plus America” or “Premium America.” Like all of us flying coach, they will be forced to sit in cramped quarters and stew in their own discomfort and suffering, all so they can consider their choices and aspire to upgrade should they ever have the opportunity.
Our economic system requires this. If services made your life bearable, if you weren’t damned to live shorter, more miserable lives, the market believes you wouldn’t work as hard or spend money on these upgrades. And so, there have to be consequences. Forced births. Crumbling schools and infrastructure. The consequences of global climate change. Abject poverty, evictions, homelessness as constantly terrifying possibilities.
There is no plan because the economic system that the Democrats support will not allow a plan. It would undermine the market incentives and the “developing markets” that will prosper off the ruling. Instead, there are the statements of displeasure that serve as the party’s “thoughts and prayers” that are always offered following a mass shooting. The prospect of “November” kicks the can down the road despite all indications that the majority currently in place will be soundly defeated and replaced by a Republican regime that will aggressively make matters worse.
I want to reiterate what I said in today’s episode of The Muckrake Podcast and Sunday’s episode of the Bourbon Talk Q&A Livestream. Our system, including the Democratic Party, is so corrupted by wealth that we cannot rely on them to save us. We have to save ourselves. We have to mount a grassroots effort to pressure the party and trouble the political system if anything is going to change.
There’s literally no time to waste if we’re going to stop this bleeding and stop the momentum of a movement that is only getting started.