GUILFORD — One of the takeaways from our current political insanity is a crucial truth: Creating destruction and chaos is easy; building a system that is just is hard.
Since the era of Reconstruction, millions of Americans have fought for civil rights, rights for women, for immigrants, and more recently, for the rights of disabled people and LGBTQ+ individuals.
We have marched in the streets, we have volunteered to go door to door for progressive candidates, we have lobbied our legislators. And people have been severely beaten and even killed for struggling for voting rights for Black voters.
From 1865 to 1870, starting during the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution were written and passed (with difficulty) in order to ensure an end to chattel slavery, enforcing the fight against the Ku Klux Klan and others who were terrorizing Black citizens. These amendments attempted to ensure that Black folks would be able to vote.
Unfortunately, as soon as these amendments were codified, the white supremacists began the process of undermining the very protections they promised.
Over the course of the past 160 years, white supremacists have torpedoed any and all protections for Black citizens. Their methods have been well documented: the requirement for Black folks to guess the number of jelly beans in a glass jar in order to vote; the threats of death to many of those who did take the bold and dangerous step to vote; the terrible mass incarceration of Black men for non-crimes to re-create the conditions of total control that existed during slave times, and so many other tactics.
Many of these impediments are coming back, thanks to the racist haters in the Trump cult.
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The current wave of voting restrictions that clearly limit the influence of voters of color, especially Black voters, would be thrown out by anyone on the Supreme Court who actually believed in justice.
However, through probably illegal and decidedly immoral manipulation, Mitch McConnell and his henchmen managed to create a court that is hellbent on destroying any and all legal protections that millions of Americans have fought and died for.
Clarence Thomas - a man who, for a multitude of reasons (including his original sin of sexual harassment of Anita Hill on the job) has no business judging others - has warned us that all our rights are under threat, including the right to contraception and gay marriage, all the while he is continually eating away at the very few voting rights that remain.
Donald Trump - who three years from now might be in the White House but hopefully will instead be wearing a Chinese-made jumpsuit in federal prison - has managed to tarnish every aspect of the idea of free and fair elections in the eyes of his cult, and he continues to wield the sort of influence that brings us candidates with absolutely no constructive ideas.
Trump, our one-man chaos machine, also brings us candidates with no ideas at all, like the amazingly unqualified Herschel Walker, who might actually become a U.S. Senator and, if that happens, would make even the amazingly dumb Ron Johnson look intelligent by comparison.
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The massive arsenal owned mainly by the far right of this country is another way the Republicans have created an ungovernable hot mess.
The fearful and/or self-absorbed police in Uvalde, Texas show us just where we are headed when we allow private citizens with severe rage to purchase weapons of war. Fox “news” and the other racist media engage these young men - and almost all these killers are young white men - in their hatred of the other.
These young men get the idea that the United States is being taken over by non-white non-Christians, and that they can commit a mass murder and be a media superstar. The Uvalde police stood outside and listened to students dying, refusing to do a thing.
Did the system work?
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All this chaos and anti-government rhetoric; the attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021; the many mass shootings, often by Trump supporters; the many, many random racist aggressions against our neighbors and colleagues; and the clearly unjustly appointed Supreme Court are creating the environment for a fascist takeover.
If people are afraid to vote due to the government being unable to provide protections, if people are afraid to speak up due to fear of the huge weapons caches of the far right, if people are unwilling to come out to protest due to amazingly unfair police protection for the racist right and arrests for non-white and climate protesters, how do we build a just society? How do we regain the rights that are being taken away at a rapid clip?
It is vital that those of us who understand the dangers and real possibility of a fascist takeover in this country speak up, share our fears, and work for justice.
This work might involve uniting with people with whom we have strong political differences. Some states may choose to secede.
My state, Vermont, is in the process of passing a state constitutional amendment assuring women's reproductive rights. What happens if the federal government tries to make abortion illegal across the board?
The fight now is to stop this country from becoming a white, Christian dictatorship, rather than what millions of us aspire to: a multiracial, just democracy.
It may be that to save ourselves as people in states that support the rule of law, we may need to split the country.