THE WORLD THEY WISH TO BUILD
Monday's breaking news that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade is just the beginning of an ambitious and relentless attempt to remake this country
Roe v. Wade was decided by an overwhelming majority. 7 to 2. And since then, besides the rhetoric-filled, paranoid subculture of “Pro-Life” activists and Republican politicians playing to their bases, it has become settled law. Routinely polls show upwards of 70% of Americans have no absolutely no interest in seeing the ruling overturned. The issue itself is a lightning rod that plays upon misogynistic and evangelical paranoia, but it’s far from a “controversy.”
Politico’s publishing of a leaked majority opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike the ruling and make abortion illegal in roughly half the states of the union hit like a cheap-shot to the chin. It is, true to Alito’s style, smug and cruel. The prose is soaked through with think-tank and Federalist Society tested language. Along the way, it tips its hat to luminaries like Justice Antonin Scalia, treating the revoking of a constitutional right like its an acceptance speech for an award that requires a handwritten list of acknowledgments.
To put it another way, it is the culmination of decades of work.
Conservatives have meticulously laid the groundwork for this moment. The animating issue for the Right, beginning in the 1950’s, was segregation, which saw Brown v. Board rule the institution unconstitutional. This was the cause that united social, political, and evangelical conservatives until abortion was recognized as a “winning” issue in the burgeoning culture wars of the 1970’s and 80’s. Since then, wealthy donors and conservative lawyers, judges, and societies have labored intensely to create any legal framework imaginable in order to push their worldviews.
At the heart is an insistence that the world must function according to their whims. Women are, according to their religious and misogynistic values, second-class citizens. To control their body or have even the most remote semblance of autonomy is dangerous. Women must be controlled politically, socially, economically, and legally. To understand the disturbing history and just how recent gender legal reform actually is, it’s important to remember that the issue of marital rape was still being largely contested in the 1990’s.
This will not stop here. The American Right is in lockstep with other authoritarian movements around the world and want to establish identical regimes. Over time, if allowed to continue along this path, they will overturn rulings on gay marriage, repeal nearly all regulations regarding labor, including age restrictions, minimum wage, and safety oversight. The momentum of movements like these can be startling, and this moment we’re in, where the white supremacy seems frustratingly apparent, you’ll be shocked by how quickly it kicks into another gear. It is, after all, a movement completely dedicated to reestablishing wealthy, white evangelical men as the “proper” leaders of the world.
The way this is playing out demands attention. The shock of Roe v. Wade possibly being overturned could inspire a wave of populist protests the likes of which we’ve only glimpsed previously, but it might also further the balkanization of states, leaving women and citizens in Republican-controlled strongholds to fend for themselves. I hope this won’t be the case, but experience on social media and observing trends tell me it’s more than 0% possibility.
It should be a rally moment, an instance of shock that finally alerts the majority of the population to the threat we’ve been warning about for years. Because if it isn’t, this will become the beginning of something larger. A remaking and reshaping of the world. It isn’t a push into the past, into a pre-desegregated, male-centered world, but the plunging into a horrific future. The past was built on foundations of traditions and subtle and not-so-subtle influences. To drag us into this new world will mean outright violence and an aggressive, weaponized states the likes of which only populate our nightmares.
This is not only an authoritarian movement, but a minoritarian movement. A small group of wealthy, powerful people are using a government built by a small group of wealthy, powerful white men to serve their interests. That government, with its Electoral College, Senate, and Supreme Court, is calibrated for exactly these moments, and as long as those institutions control our destinies, we will continue down this path. And to overrun democracy in totality, particularly in this age, will take force and methods that the word “brutal” doesn’t even begin to cover.
Take no comfort from any fantasies that you can outrun this. That you can escape this. It is a worldwide movement dedicated to reshaping the planet and the existence of humanity, and it will roll on until we open our eyes and see it for what it is. The feeling you’re having this morning is nothing short of the beast nipping at your heels.