Editorial: What non-voters have wrought

File Photo By Vandana Ravikumar/Cronkite News

Column By John Young

Last May, Gallup found eight of 10 Americans supported the right the Supreme Court just tossed into history’s wastebasket – the right for a woman to choose.

Next to go? Same-sex marriage in states bold enough to abolish it. A person’s right to use contraception also is threatened.

What thereafter? Prohibition of interracial marriage? Resegregation of lunch counters?

Last week’s ruling on abortion rights shows no precedent is going to stop Republican appointees from doing what partisans hired them to do.

Such are fruits reaped for leaving the most consequential matters in American history up to chance.

The chance that one justice would die on the cusp of a presidential election.

The chance that a previously pro-choice con man would become president with millions fewer votes than his progressive challenger.

The chance that on any number of matters – gun laws, reproductive rights, voting rights – the nation can and will be governed by a minority of a minority.

And we aren’t just talking of the Cruz Caucus in a filibustered Senate.

In 2016 a lot of Republicans held their noses and voted for the Orange Con. They knew that the essence of the quest was control of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a whole bunch of squishy centrists and haven’t-given-it much thought progressives, particularly at a tender age of self-induced ignorance, didn’t vote.

They convinced themselves that it didn’t matter, that “there’s no difference between the parties,” or, “Hillary’s going to win.”

The local newspaper where I live interviewed collegians wearing “Vote for Nobody” buttons. Hardee har-har.

The Electoral College wasn’t the reason behind the con man’s gaining the power to populate the courts in 2016. Apathy was.

Four years later sufficient Americans were appalled by the con man that they removed him from office. Too late for what would happen to the Supreme Court.

Three Supreme Court vacancies presented themselves in the four years prior, including one that opened up when Senate Republicans denied even a hearing to Barack Obama’s nominee.

So, two points: (1) elections matter; (2) parties matter.

Never in modern history have the two major political parties presented such stark differences – on abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, gun laws, on corporate control of lawmaking.

Oh, yes, corporate control. The conservative control of this court is corporate – the result of years of big-money plotting by interests like the Koch dynasty and proxies in the Federalist Society.

This is what we have because too many voters left too much of governing up to chance.

This matter goes back to when another Republican ascended to the presidency with fewer votes than his opponent.

Lest we forget: That man, George W. Bush, appointed Samuel Alito, author of last week’s ruling, along with Chief Justice John Roberts.

In 2000 much was made of an already conservative Supreme Court siding with Bush in awarding Florida to him. Much was made of the unfairness of the Electoral College.

But the Supreme Court didn’t award Florida to Bush. Nor did the voters who thought they were voting for Al Gore but were confused by ballots into voting for Patrick Buchanan.

What awarded the presidency to Bush was the thousands of progressive Floridians who cast a protest vote for Ralph Nader, somehow a blow for a greener world.

Ironic it was then that Gore – too squishy for Nader voters – would win the Nobel Peace Prize for heroic efforts to warn the planet about what carbon pollution is doing to it and to us.

The bottom line: People who believe in all of the things Republicans oppose – abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, expanded voting rights, stronger gun laws – have got to start voting against the those who would put the minority in charge on our highest court.

This is going to happen, in increasing numbers.

Trump himself, while crowing about his anti-choice achievement on Fox News, privately has warned that the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling will hurt the GOP at the polls.

Darned right.

The lesson to voters: Stop leaving your government up to chance.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.  

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.

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