The Arrogance of White Supremacy

Today, presumptive GOP nominee for president Donald Trump released a list of potential people he would nominate to the United States Supreme Court.

And I seethed.

I seethed because he released the list in the face of President Obama, whose nominee for the High Court, Judge Merrick Garland, is being completely ignored by the Republican-led Senate.

Trump’s list is full of people who are, by media accounts, “extremely Conservative.” They are primarily white men. They are young. They will work to keep white supremacy alive.

Democrats are powerless to do anything against the obstruction put in place and supported by Sen. Mitch McConnell and the others. In a Politico article, Seung Min Kim wrote that there were nine Senate Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee listening to witnesses “shower praise” on Judge Garland …but the GOP side of the dais …was completely empty.

The GOP has been touting that it is aghast at the violation of the Constitution; they have professed that they believe in law and order, except, it seems, when following the law and maintaining order applies to this president.

“Let the people decide who the next Supreme Court justice will be,” they say, calling Mr. Obama a “lame duck president,” when, in fact, that is not true. Their actions are clear and simply obstructionism based on racial politics. And it is sickening.

This latest action by Mr. Trump, the “chief bully” of this nation, underscores the fact that the core of this nation seems to be filled with rot. Mr. Trump is sickening, with his name-calling and bullying of anyone who disagrees with him, but it is the support of the white American electorate which is more disturbing. Filled with resentment and reeling from an economic downturn that has blown them out of lives that have been at least comfortable, the American electorate wants things to be the way they used to be when there were enough jobs in this nation to allow a fair number of people to live decent lives. They were a part of the middle class. Never mind that many of the privileges they had were denied to black and brown people. What they know is that their lives were comfortable and now they are not.

They believe Donald Trump when he says he will bring jobs back to America. They rejoice at the thought that a wall will be built to keep Mexicans out of the nation, people, they will say disingenuously, who are taking their jobs.

They are doing no such thing. They are doing the work that few if any American would be willing to do, at wages that are inhumanely low. There are stories circulating where immigrants, some legal and some not, are hired out, who do the work, and then are sent away or threatened with being deported without being paid.

Business people want profits, and they want it with as little outlay of their own money as possible. Donald Trump is not going to be able to change things so that the way things “were” will be “again.” Yesterday’s economy is not coming back.

But the American electorate is so desperate for jobs, and so subliminally racist, that they cannot see the forest for the trees. Mr. Trump is acting like an arrogant, spoiled rich fraternity kid and the public is loving it. They are all trying to “be his friend,” like kids tried to cosy up to bullies when I was in school. They must know that Mr. Trump does not care about them and their lives, that Mr. Trump only wants to satisfy Mr. Trump. And what will satisfy Mr. Trump is to win the presidency and be the most powerful man in the world.

They don’t care that he doesn’t have a foreign policy or an economic plan for this nation that will bring “liberty and justice for all.”

Oh, wait. They don’t want liberty and justice for all. They want liberty and justice …and white privilege…as they have always had it. And Mr. Trump knows that and is feeding their souls.

Sad. But true.

A candid observation…

 

 

One Group Forward, Another Group Back

The United States Supreme Court did the right thing, I believe, in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), clearing the way for members of the LGBT community to get the rights they deserve as American citizens. As more and more states lose their resistance to allowing same-sex marriage, the rights of these couples will finally be treated with dignity and will be entitled to federal benefits  that heterosexual married couples now enjoy. Some religious folks are decrying the decision, insisting that the Bible says marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman but the decision of the Supreme Court really did make justice possible for one group of people who have been too long discriminated against.

But while the LGBT community enjoyed a victory, African-Americans suffered a serious setback. In effectively striking down the guts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court invalidated the work over the years by activists to make sure the right of African-Americans to vote was protected. The high court left the door and the way open for dishonesty and hate-based-on-race to have its way …again. The blood, sweat and tears – literally – of activists, black, white, Christian, Jewish – was dishonored by a court whose chief justice, John Roberts, said, “our country has changed.”

It brought me to tears.

Voting is about power, and from the outset, some people in some states, historically, knew that all too well. To allow the growing population of African-Americans in the South to vote would upset and challenge the balance of the white power structure. To guard against that,  ridiculous, immoral, unethical and disingenuous “tests” were set up to weed African-Americans out. People were asked to tell how many jelly beans were in a jar; they were given literacy tests by many who were themselves illiterate. They were given tests on the United States Constitution. Some blacks would stand in line to register to vote for hours only to get to the registration point and either be turned away because they “failed” one of these tests or to find that voting registration was closed for the day.

The court specifically struck down Section 4 of the Act, which required specifically named states to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department before they made changes to requirements and procedures for voting, to change polling places, or redrawing electoral districts. Congress in 2006 renewed the act, extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years. Now, however, the states that were named have been released from the requirement that they be monitored and get preclearance (Section 5). Federal attorneys can go to individual states and see what they are doing, but clearly, states will have more freedom to do as they wish, hoping that they are not “caught.”

Politics is about power, not about people. In spite of our founding documents saying that government is “by the people, of the people and for the people,” the reality is that those words, that stated belief, is not really true. Far too many American people suffer from a democracy and democratic principles that do not extend to them. While the Congress gets up in arms about democracy needing to work and/or be established in foreign countries, democracy in America is in intensive care.

The Supreme Court this week pushed one group, the LGBT community, move forward while simultaneously pushing another group, African-Americans, back. The court showed notable sensitivity to the group, and familiar and painful insensitivity to another.

The struggle continues. It just never ends. Racism, and the inequality it metes out, is America’s cancer. It resists all efforts to get it out of the life-blood of American society.

A candid observation…

High Court a Political Machine?

English: West face of the United States Suprem...
English: West face of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Español: Edificio de la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos en Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If there is anything comforting about the impending decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, is something that Charles Lane said in an article he wrote that appeared in The Washington Post:” …the United States periodically redefines the role of the federal government in society, in a process that is both political and legal — and, sometimes, more revolutionary than evolutionary. In that sense, we do have a “living Constitution.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-lane-redefining-american-government-through-obamacare/2012/06/25/gJQAdmIp2V_story.html).

What people want, or what we are taught to believe, that out of the three branches of the federal government, there is one branch, the judicial branch, that we can count on to interpret the law according to the Constitution, politics aside.

But that hasn’t been the case, and Lane quotes Akhil Amar, a professor of constitutional law at Yale University, who said that if the Court comes down against the Affordable Care Act by a margin of 5-4, it will show that it is not objective, but that it is bound by politics, party loyalty, money and party.

As a student of history, I have read of cases in which the High Court was not an agent for “the least of these;” I still shudder when I think of the wording Chief Justice Roger Taney used in the Dred Scott case. As part of the African-American community, I have yearned for a government that has been willing to live up to its ideals of being a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

What some Americans come to realize is that the government really advocates on behalf of “some” of the people, and some High Court decisions have validated that opinion.

Be that as it may, there is always a flicker of hope that in the end, no matter where else injustice may dwell, it will not be sanctioned by the United States Supreme Court. And so, when the Court shows its colors of party loyalty and politics, there is a collective sigh of dismay. If not even the highest court in this land sees “all of the people,” who will?

Perhaps my own state of mind is related to an erroneous way I have perceived America and the concept of democracy. I was taught – and I believed – that a democracy was different from other forms of government. I believed that that meant American democracy had a tradition of egalitarianism.  I believed that our democracy prided itself on “all” being equal.

That is not the case, however. All people in a democracy, more accurately a capitalistic democracy, are not supposed to be equal. Those who have get more and those who do not have…get less, and are chided for wanting what they see is possible.

At the end of the day, it seems that the United States Supreme Court justices are not people who believe in the make-believe of  “justice for all.” The laws of this nation were not set up to protect “all” people and I guess it is the work of the court to protect those laws, not “all” of the people.

So, I am bracing myself for the Court’s decision on health care. I am hoping that the gains made by the passage of the bill will not be lost; it is amazing that 46 million more people have health insurance because of this bill. It is inconceivable to me that a nation that is supposed to be so concerned with the treatment of people in other countries seems to be so callous when it comes to dealing with its own poor.

If I hadn’t had such good civics and social studies teachers, who taught me that America was probably the only country in the world that cared about the rights and care of everyone,  perhaps I wouldn’t have been so disappointed, time and again, when the High Court has not come off as the protector of America’s underclass, poor, and working poor.

Perhaps part of the issue, or my issue, with the Court is that it cannot let the Constitution breathe – it cannot allow that the Constitution is a live, living document, like Professor Akhil Amar said. Times change and so do the needs of the people and of the nation. Shouldn’t the law, even the Constitution, allow for that? Would the Founding Fathers have been pleased with a democracy where 46 million people didn’t have health care?

I’m blessed to have health care. I sure hope that by this time tomorrow, people who recently got access to health care after not having been able to afford it are not wringing their hands in despair, pushed yet again to the curb in the name of politics.

It would be the saddest thing ever…

A candid observation