What will today’s general election mean for you?
If you are middle-class and above, male and white, probably not too much. It may be more or less taxes, more or less regulations on your Firestone tires and four years of hearing a Tennessee drawl instead of one from West Texas. But for those of us who are or would have been part of the marginal side of society before the New Deal, there are very frightening prospects that could take place if the stars align their ways for Governor George W. Bush and his cronies (read: the “Star Chamber” that will be running the country).
For the first time as a Democrat, I do not feel that I am very “progressive” or “liberal.” Instead, my politics have been more of a “conservative” sort this time around. To be more specific, I greatly fear that the social programs and individual rights that have accumulated over the past 70 years will either be greatly hampered or taken away altogether by the reactionary right-wing tide that has taken hold in so many misguided hearts in this nation.
In my dreams, I toss and turn at the image of seeing Clarence Thomas standing in the middle of high court’s portrait: the place reserved for the Chief Justice. Thomas – maybe the biggest idiot to ever hold the title “Supreme Court Justice” in the past half century – is seen by the good governor from Austin as a model. This is not paranoia of the silliest of sorts, but a simple recognition that Clarence Thomas could not write an opinion without any iota of intellectual ability unless Justice Antonin Scalia wrote it for him. Thomas is nothing less than a talking puppet for the conservative intelligentsia cloaked in an honorable black robe.
Imagine the possibilities that we might be faced with after today’s election:
1. A Republican president with little common sense and less intelligence.
2. A Republican House embittered by how its 1994 “Revolution” failed, looking to stick it to those eastern establishment liberals.
3. A Republican Senate, a little wiser than its House peers, but forced to pay in votes what the Christian Coalition, NRA and big business did to deliver the Senate to the GOP.
It only takes a few votes here and a few votes there to irrevocably change the face of American civil rights. The scenario from above is frightening, both in its composition and just how close it can become a reality after tonight.
Waiting in the wings are a phalanx of Thomases and Scalias: young, energetic, bright conservative judges who grew up in the Age of Reagan and are ready to turn the United States back. And with the Republican Congress refusing to approve Clinton’s appointments of court appointments in state after state, there are many empty benches for those mini-Thomases and mini-Scalias to settle in.
This is not simply some liberal Democrat whining that Al Gore may lose the election. This is about the fundamentals of what kind of country Americans want to live in. Basic rights that our generation has typically taken for granted, such as the Civil Rights Act and the Roe v. Wade ruling, can be turned unconstitutional through some narrow interpretation of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution or by claiming that Congress cannot delegate rule-making power to administrative agencies. In this so-called “strict interpretation” of the Constitution, Thomas and Scalia have been trying to return the United States to the 1920s and the reign of the Four Horsemen. Bush just may give our generation two or three more Horsemen to overturn Roe.
A Bush victory would also end any notion of actually advancing civil rights for the next four years at the least. Maybe if the Democrats win enough seats in the Senate, they can act as a bulwark, just as the Republicans have done so successfully during the Clinton Administration.
You could say good-bye to our queer peers’ hopes for equal rights under a Bush administration. You can cry, “Adios, amigo!” to any thought of keeping affirmative action laws that have made higher education accessible to the marginalized of society. Any notion of campaign finance reform will go right out the window – Thomas and Scalia have already said how campaign finance reform would impinge on one’s First Amendment right to free speech.
And, worst of all, Bush probably has absolutely no idea what the Supreme Court really does. However, what he does know is that he cannot “make the mistake” of his father, Bush the Elder, did by nominating someone like David Souter to the court. Bush the Younger knows that he must pay off his conservative constituencies by nominating justices with the disposition of Scalia and Thomas.
In what could just seem like four years of poor governance with fewer taxes, less corporate accountability and compassionate conservatism, may give birth to a twenty or thirty year-long Reign of Terror from the bench, eliminating those programs and laws closest to our hearts.
Can you hear the legion of reactionism marching?