Why Overturning Roe Could Be the Last Straw for Many

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that has been the focus of America’s abortion debate since 1973. In that decision, the 1973 court ruled that the Constitution protected a woman’s right to an abortion, with some limits. By overturning that decision, today’s court leaves abortion laws up to individual states, allowing them to ban abortion under any circumstances and at any point during pregnancy. In doing so, the Supreme Court has placed millions of women across the country at grave risk.

How Democrats Dropped the Ball on Choice

Though the decision was leaked almost two months ago, it was met with outrage from pro-choice Americans when formally announced. Much of the rage has been directed at Democrats – and for good reason. Despite often placing abortion protection at the center of campaign messaging, Democrats in power have done very little to safeguard Roe.

As a candidate in 2007, Barack Obama promised that the first thing he’d do as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. After he took office, the bill stalled, and President Obama declared a woman’s right to choose “not [his] highest legislative priority.” Candidate Biden made a similar promise and, like Obama, never followed through.

Other Democratic leaders have also wavered in their commitment to choice. In 2016, Hillary Clinton chose an anti-choice Democratic Senator, Tim Kaine, as her running mate. Former DNC Chair Tom Perez, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have all backed anti-choice candidates and sought to downplay the issue in the party’s overall messaging.

Among Democrats, President Biden is especially bad on abortion. He’s on record as opposing a woman’s right to choose as far back as 1974, saying, rather incredibly, “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” Biden even played a key role in getting Clarence Thomas, one of the conservatives who overturned Roe, appointed to the Supreme Court. Throughout his career, Biden backed multiple abortion bans in the Senate. Even today, he’s planning to appoint an anti-choice judge to Kentucky’s Supreme Court.

In short, abortion rights have never been secure, even with Democrats controlling two-thirds of the federal government. And the Democratic response following the overturn of Roe has been bleak. When the Supreme Court’s decision first leaked, prompting protests at the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, rather than preserve abortion protections, Democrats moved overwhelmingly to pass a bill granting additional security to Supreme Court justices and their families. The most action they’ve taken so far has been sending out fundraising emails.

Some, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have aggressively used their platforms to push for solutions. Proposed solutions include impeaching Supreme Court justices who lied under oath about protecting Roe, opening abortion clinics on federal land in red states, and ending the filibuster to pass abortion protections through Congress. In a surprise reversal, Biden recently voiced support for ending the filibuster to codify Roe, but no formal action has been taken and he’s been dismissive of other strategies.

Unmasking the system

Pro-choice protests have popped up all over the country. Many of these have been met with a violent police presence. On Twitter, users share new videos daily of police arguing with, shoving, arresting, and assaulting protesters. Capitol Police arrested 181 protesters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. In one of the more high-profile incidents, LAPD officers shoved sitcom actress Jodie Sweetin to the ground.

At a rally in Texas, protesters chanted, “Voting blue is not enough, Democrats we call your bluff.” Their rage is justified. The decision was an abysmal rollback of a fundamental right. By taking America so far backwards, the Supreme Court highlights how illegitimate our system is.

Some legal experts praise the overturn of Roe, arguing that abortion law belongs in the hands of individual states. Perhaps in some constitutional readings, this is so. But the practical effect of repealing Roe is that the federal government has blessed states to impose punitive and regressive abortion laws. These laws will inevitably lead to suffering, unsafe medical procedures, death, and parentless children. If it’s constitutional for the state to come between a woman and her physician to outlaw certain kinds of medical care, then we have very big problems.

Why abortion protection is so critical

With the fall of Roe, any national protection of a woman’s right to choose is gone. Some of the most restrictive abortion laws in states like Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas can now go unchallenged. In Texas and Idaho, the repeal of Roe triggered laws banning almost all abortions. The overturn has emboldened governors and legislators in red states like Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis – widely seen as a 2024 Republican presidential candidate – vowed to defend the state’s most restrictive abortion laws to date.

This is all under the pretext of protecting the unborn. Unfortunately, the abortion debate has been hijacked by hysterical fundamentalists who view all abortion as the equivalent of murder. This has led to extreme measures from the pro-life movement, up to and including, ironically, murdering doctors and calling for women who have abortions to be hanged.

The question of when life begins is more spiritual or philosophical than legal or scientific. The sperm that fertilizes the egg is made of living cells, as is the egg itself. When the two join, they can potentially undergo a process that may or may not lead to a human baby birth, but arguing that a zygote is a human being with full rights is problematic even for pro-lifers. Prominent pro-life activist Matt Walsh, for instance, recently embarrassed himself on Twitter by declaring an elephant fetus was a person.

For these reasons, it is hysterical, dangerous, and fundamentally false to refer to abortion as murder. Abortion is a medical procedure for terminating a pregnancy. Access to safe abortions is critically important – for would-be mothers who suffer life-threatening medical complications, for victims who don’t want to be forced to birth their attacker’s baby, and, yes, for anyone who made a mistake and doesn’t want to bring a new life into the world.

Even outside of extreme cases such as rape, incest, or life-threatening medical emergencies, abortion is a crucial part of smart family planning. And even if eliminating abortions was a worthy cause – which it isn’t – outlawing abortions isn’t going to eliminate them. Much like the War on Drugs, a War on Abortion will just drive abortions underground, exposing women to dangerous, unsanctioned medical procedures.

Only a grim Dark Age society would force all women to carry every pregnancy to term, particularly while making such pitiful investments in education, healthcare, childcare, nutrition, and foster care. If a woman gets pregnant – even if it’s against her will and she has no support – conservatives want her to live with that burden forever, with no assistance.

What can we do now?

No one should tolerate living under oppressive, abusive systems. When a law is unjust, people must disobey it. Already, a sort of abortion underground railroad has emerged. Activists have shared resources, offered to pay for transportation to abortion-safe states, and shown ways to safely communicate in states that outlaw abortion.

Democrats have options, including making a filibuster exemption to codify Roe into law. Sadly, the party’s dearth of leadership makes it seem unlikely they will use all the options at their disposal. Therefore, it falls on activists to pressure elected officials and put forward progressive challengers to moderate candidates.

The Supreme Court’s decision calls into question the legitimacy of the US government itself. Recent polling shows 61 percent of Americans support abortion rights. For six justices to have the power to override that will shows how off-the-rails things have gone.

But in this, too, there could be a silver lining. By allowing the American people this rotten glimpse under the government’s mask, the Supreme Court may have initiated a sea change. It’s far too early to tell what the consequences will be, but if the only way to fix the problem is a political revolution that completely restructures the government, overturning Roe may be what lights the kindling.

Why we should think beyond “returning to normal”

The COVID-19 pandemic affected nearly everyone on the globe, bringing with it a great deal of suffering and significant changes in the way people work and live. Despite the initially dismal US response to the pandemic, we are now among the most vaccinated countries on earth. All across the country, restrictions are relaxing, masks are coming off, travel is resuming, and people have begun returning to normal.

Unfortunately, “normal” in the US is a dire situation to begin with.

As bad as COVID was, it also brought with it several silver linings. The scope and horror of the situation forced us, for the briefest moment, to prioritize something other than profit. The rich weren’t immune to COVID-19. A far-right Republican government temporarily instituted an eviction moratorium and student debt relief, issued stimulus checks, and expanded unemployment benefits. Some essential employees received pay increases. Those who were able worked remotely, reconnecting with their families, clearing up the roads, and allowing nature some respite from our constant hustle.

For a while, it seemed like some of these changes might become permanent. Pundits and politicians seriously discussed universal basic income and student debt forgiveness. As we realized society is only as healthy as the least-healthy among us, the need for a Medicare-for-All system became apparent. Businesses explored more flexible work models, and some made work-from-home permanent.

Now, there is no “new normal.” Instead, we are rushing back to the old normal as quickly as possible.

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How progressives should navigate their Biden conundrum

If current polling is accurate, former Vice President Joe Biden could cruise to a crushing victory over President Donald Trump on Election Day, November 3. Much can change between now and then. As the world learned in 2016, nothing is certain. But barring a significant reversal of Trump’s fortunes or interference with the electoral process, America will likely inaugurate a new president in 2021.

For many of the country’s liberals, that’s the endgame. Especially after the numerous catastrophes and close calls of 2020, they want to relax, be rid of Trump, and breathe a sigh of relief. But as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned, “There’s no going back to brunch. We have a whole new world to build. We cannot accept going back to the way things were, & that includes the Dem party. We must deliver transformative, material change.”

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Establishment Dems go all-in on Biden gamble

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With help from MSNBC and establishment Dems, former Vice President Joe Biden overtook Bernie Sanders last week to become the Democratic frontrunner.

Turn on the TV or open any newspaper in the last week and you’ll hear a story: former Vice President Joe Biden has revived his flailing campaign, regained his frontrunner status, and pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in electoral history.

After poor showings in the first three primary contests – all of which were won by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – Biden’s political obituary had been all but written. Then, following the endorsement of influential Congressman Jim Clyburn, Biden ran away with the South Carolina primary. That was Saturday. By Monday evening, both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar had dropped out. Along with Beto O’Rourke, they joined Biden at a rally in Dallas. Their endorsements propelled Biden to victory in ten Super Tuesday contests.

But Biden himself seemingly had little to do with this remarkable turnaround. He did almost no campaigning in Super Tuesday states, didn’t spend much money or employ much staff, and hadn’t done many public appearances. His comeback was completely manufactured. A cheering media and high-profile endorsements carried to the finish line a candidate who does little campaigning, who’s plagued with personal and political scandal, and whose worsening physical and mental frailties are on display every time he appears in public. Continue reading

Don’t look now, America, but socialism is all around you

Bernie

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, currently the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is a self-described “democratic socialist.”

With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on a trajectory to win the Democratic nomination for president, socialism is the talk of the nation. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has proposed big reforms, including universal healthcare, tuition-free college, and more than doubling the federal minimum wage. His ascent has the Democratic establishment and corporate pundits concerned. What the media doesn’t acknowledge is that socialism is everywhere in America already. And whether they realize it or not, Americans like it. Continue reading

Michael Bloomberg is an odious billionaire who wants to buy the presidency

Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his presidential debate debut on Wednesday. His performance was widely panned.

After pouring some $500 million of his own fortune into his presidential campaign, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally joined his Democratic rivals on the debate stage Wednesday night. He turned in a remarkably despicable performance in which he unapologetically refused to address allegations of harassment and offered only tepid explanations for the stop-and-frisk policy that repeatedly violated the civil rights and basic humanity of hundreds of thousands of innocent black and brown New Yorkers.

For all the problems the Democratic field has, Bloomberg’s emergence on the debate stage was the first time it seemed possible the party could actually nominate someone even more odious than Donald Trump. Bloomberg’s remarks on race, women, LGBTQ issues, and more are often as loathsome as Trump’s and, in some cases, are even worse. Continue reading

Why Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to take down Donald Trump

Bernie

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is now the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

Hot off the heels of winning the popular vote in the contentious Iowa caucus, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is in the best position of his campaign. He is polling well against, if not ahead of, longtime frontrunner Joe Biden in important early primary states like New Hampshire, Nevada, and California. Rising on a tide of donations averaging around $20 a piece, Sanders has forced the Democratic establishment and the news media to reckon with the real prospect of his nomination.

This is great news for anyone who wants to see Donald Trump evicted from the White House. Sanders’s strengths as an independent populist play perfectly well against Trump’s weaknesses as a corrupt, incompetent billionaire. Trump’s strongest argument, which has been to paint his opponents as Washington insiders, fall flat against Sanders, a sincere outsider whose convictions have held over his long career.

Perhaps Trump’s greatest gift as a politician is his ability to dispatch an opponent using only a single phrase or nickname: “Lyin’ Ted,” “Low-energy Jeb,” or “Crooked Hillary.” It’s childish bullying, but it’s effective. Elizabeth Warren has demonstrated that Trump can bait her into public embarrassment. Biden has no comeback to “Sleepy Joe” or “Where’s Hunter?”; his deteriorating mental state and family corruption are matters of fact. Sanders, on the other hand, owns the “socialist” label and makes it palatable to an America beset by longer hours, harder work, and runaway inequality.

Trump knows that Sanders is his toughest opponent. In leaked audio from April 2018, Trump admits Hillary Clinton would’ve been stronger with Sanders as her vice president, saying, “He was the only one I didn’t want her to pick.” Trump reportedly grapples with the appeal of socialist policies, telling advisers that the cancellation of student debt is “a tough one to run against.” He even offered faint praise for Sanders in his Super Bowl interview, saying, “At least he’s true to what he believes.”

Sanders is fighting for healthcare, a living wage, debt reduction, and tuition-free college for everyone in America. Within the current Washington dynamic, those policies are written off as unrealistic or too extreme despite their popularity across a broad swath of the American people. Even those who support Sanders and his policies often fear that his progressive agenda will never pass through a far-right, obstructionist Congress. In order to overcome gridlock and establishment opposition, Sanders has pledged to govern as an organizer-in-chief, encouraging Americans to keep the pressure up on elected politicians.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Presidential Primary Debate In Des Moines, Iowa

Much of the media have declared Sanders and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg co-winners of the messy Iowa Caucus. Sanders beat Buttigieg by some 6,000 popular votes, but they will likely receive the same number of delegates.

Even if he doesn’t pass his entire legislative agenda, Sanders has gotten the nation talking about it. Moderate Democrats like Pete Buttigieg now have to make their arguments against Medicare for All. In addition to his New Deal-like domestic policies, Sanders is the most antiwar candidate running and the most aggressive on climate change. Dozens of nations outperform America in healthcare, education, housing, labor rights, and/or environmental protection, and Sanders has shifted the national conversation toward doing better.

Sanders’s biggest obstacles may well come from his own party. Hillary Clinton questioned Sanders’s electability and recently said, “Nobody likes him… nobody wants to work with him.” Insider reporting suggests that Barack Obama, John Kerry, and other top Democratic figures desperately want to avoid a Sanders nomination. Billionaire Howard Schultz has threatened a third-party run if Sanders is the nominee and Michael Bloomberg has already spent some $200 million on his own campaign.

The problem isn’t that Sanders is unelectable; he consistently polls well against Trump, and better in many polls than any other Democrat. The problem is that the Clinton wing of the party doesn’t like him. A Sanders presidency may threaten the interests of corporate Democrats even more than a Trump presidency, fraying their close relationships with wealthy donors. So much the better for ordinary Americans, as those relationships have turned the party away from working-class interests.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign is most instructive of all. Her campaign focused more on the evils of Trump than the good she planned to do. Though she won the popular vote, she lost the election. To rally the support and enthusiasm necessary to retake the White House and move America forward requires an inspirational message of your own.

Sanders has no misunderstandings about the danger posed by Trump’s corruption, authoritarianism, and bigotry. But Sanders also knows that Trump cannot be the only focus. The Sanders campaign is centered around class solidarity, environmental innovation, and social supports to guarantee every American a fundamental standard of dignity. That message has made him the Democratic frontrunner. Not only is Bernie Sanders the best choice to stop Donald Trump, he is the best president for this moment.

The embarrassing futility of ‘principled Republicans’ who attack Trump

trump mccain

President Trump has repeatedly criticized former Arizona Senator John McCain, seven months after McCain’s passing.

Every now and then, the craven indecency of Donald Trump pushes some members of the Republican Party to stand up and say that this time, the president has gone too far. These are supposedly the GOP’s respectable men of stature. They may agree with virtually all of Trump’s policies, but they can’t abide his dirty language or disrespect of sacred cows. Whenever one of these so-called “principled Republicans” chides Trump in public, though, Trump just mops the floor with them. Continue reading

Howard Schultz and the billionaire establishment’s preference for Trump over leftist Democrats

Schultz

Howard Schultz, 65, oversaw the expansion of Starbucks into a global brand and now feels qualified to run the United States.

Whether or not Howard Schultz, the billionaire former CEO of Starbucks, runs for president in 2020 hinges largely on what direction the Democratic Party goes. Schultz, who has no political experience, is concerned that the party has become too left-wing, pushed by prominent congresspeople like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In order to save the country from a choice between socialism and Donald Trump, Schultz may be compelled to run as a “centrist independent.”

In a media blitz late last month, Schultz slammed Trump, calling the president “despicable” and accusing him of doing “almost everything possible to discredit the dignity, the civility, the values, the respectfulness of the Oval Office with no degree of any sense of responsibility to the American people.” Schultz’s remarks were notably lacking in specifics. While his most sanctimonious denunciations were of Trump’s demeanor and vulgarity, his strongest policy critiques were directed at Democrats, particularly Ocasio-Cortez. Continue reading

A view of the restraint of President Trump

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President Trump has held firm to his position of unilaterally holding the federal government hostage for his border wall, much to the delight of his base.

The presidency of tabloid star, game show host, and brand entrepreneur Donald J. Trump has been a rowdy one. Currently, the federal government of the United States is, like so many of Trump’s former ventures, shut down. As Trump threatens to declare a national emergency and circumvent Congress in order to build his promised southern border wall, commentators are speculating just how far Trump will go to undermine American institutions and empower himself.

Throughout his many decades of public life, Trump has been openly petty, vulgar, racist, conspiratorial, and narcissistic. The presidency hasn’t matured him an iota. As president, he’s continued to lie, flirt with dictators, enrich himself and his family, and show no compunction about stripping away benefits and even disaster relief from vulnerable people. Given how brazenly he’s gotten away with it all, though, it’s almost a marvel that he hasn’t gone even further. Continue reading