They Killed the Golden Goose
There are going to be a ton of flaming hot takes on the recent SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v Wade. Here is another one.
“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” — Maya Angelou
So, cards on the table with regards to my own particular stance and politics here, I’m a fan of Roe v Wade, and it’s not particularly because I’m wild about women or abortions; I would like to think I support women, but those sort of abstract ideals are a distant second when you fear for your life and your friends’ lives. I should point out that none of my friends, or me, are terribly pro-abortion, but it is one of the legal precedents protecting legal concepts like bodily autonomy, informed consent, and medical procedures, as well as access to all of the above.
Because I’ve encountered mediocre white people eagerly assuring me that patient rights are protected by other rulings, laws, and traditions, I would point out that argument is interchangeable with the statement, “This sailing vessel has entirely too much wood on it! Surely, you could do without one of those masts!” Yes, it may be an accurate statement in the most-technical aspects, but the ship would not function at peak efficiency. The unfortunate rules of cancer survival are this: everyone is barely hanging on, and we’re all giving it 110% of our efforts. A system that functions at 80–90% efficiency will kill us. And, on a more-personal note, as the GOP readies itself to become the genital gestapo (how is that at all consistent with cries for smaller government? Federal troops lurking in women’s bathrooms seems like the height of government intrusion), most of my friends are on some sort of testosterone or estrogen inhibitors (known in Alabama as “chemical castration,” but that’s not terribly accurate). They aren’t transgender; sex hormones just act like jet fuel to most cancers and, y’know, low testosterone levels beats the hell out of having “He was a real man’s man” put on the tombstone. If local governments decide to criminalize any gender-affirming care, would that result in jail time for my breasties? I know there are a ton of CHUDs just waiting in line to say, “But surely they would make an exception for medical reasons,” so, I have a personal challenge for all of you. Go to your local DMV. Pretend you’re there to register a car or get a license renewal. Fill out all the appropriate paperwork, get it stamped, wait in line, the whole sexy process. THEN, pretend that was all just the required forerunner to make time-sensitive medical decisions. Oh, your cancer progressed past the point where treatment would make a difference? You should’ve thought of that before you decided to get sick! And, like everyone who votes for the Democratic Party, I’m not wild about the Democratic Party, but they are the only alternative in town. To all of my unAmerican friends, I should note that there are third parties, but they aren’t interested in building the sort of grassroots organization required to maintain a national campaign — they aren’t out there running for city council and DA or sheriff as a way to make Spokane a greener, less-militarized city, with the goal of parlaying that into Congressional power. Ironically, the KKK took that route by slowly infiltrating every local police department in the US, and then we got Trump. So, non-genocidal third parties on a federal level aren’t a thing, here.
But, more to the point, let’s talk about the modern GOP, and why I suspect that this ruling will be a political disaster. More to the point, I’m going to talk about how you, personally, can make this a disaster for them, dear reader.
Rather than go on about modern political parties how very little resemblance they bear to the Beta Versions (the Republicans were the party of abolitionists, yes, but when they lost that wedge issue, they became the party of big business and in-bred hillbillies; the Democratic Party was, originally, the party of illiterate pig-men and industrial agriculture, they remain as sordid and spineless as ever, but “KILL ALL HUMANS” is not in their party platform, so, the lesser of two evils), let’s talk about the number of myths the Republican Party created for itself over the years, and how they completely destroyed those. Remember, in the 1950s, the GOP was the party of high taxes, infrastructure, and peaceful isolationist policies (Eisenhower, folks). That changed with noted human-moray eel hybrid Richard M. Nixon, who liked bombing Asian civilians, casual libertarianism, and governing under the influence. So, within my somewhat brief life, the list of lies that the GOP has both created and then spectacularly imploded include:
- Good with the economy — G.W. Bush presided over the 2008 recession. His father was president during the S&L collapse, one of the largest economic disasters since the Great Depression. Reagan was president during Black Monday. Even though I would be inclined to argue that presidents don’t have direct control of the economy, you have to note the pattern, especially in contrast to what Republicans like to claim. It’s hardly a surprise that the best lies we tell are the ones we tell about ourselves, as anyone who’s been on a disastrous first date an attest.
- Good at war — I realize that this is vague, but the US has not definitively won a war since we nuked Japan. I’m not interested in revisiting old grievances, but Reagan got caught selling arms to fund the Contras, and presided over the bombing of the USMC barracks in Beirut. W got us into two separate endless wars. Nixon overextended US involvement in Southeast Asia in the off-chance some women and kids in Cambodia or Laos might ever touch a bullet. The point is, Republican presidents in my lifetime are sure-fire bets for starting wars that they do not intend to win, or even use as a negotiating tactic.
- Good at foreign relations — The singular curse of Donald Trump is that he was about as charming and congenial as an angry cobra, but less-predictable. He alienated US allies at every turn, even threatening not to protect NATO allies against Russia. Granted, he was put in power by “Little Vlad,” so, that was an attempt to repay that particular debt, but it came at only the very slight cost of further damaging US legitimacy and “soft power.
- Infrastructure — Driven on an American road, recently? All that can be said is that they are better than the roads in Norway. The GOP right now is involved in an attempt to kill Biden’s infrastructure bill, so, we can cross “building bridges” off the list of competencies. Hell, even if we want to count The Donald’s odious Wall to the list, they only got a few miles of that built, before floods and natural conditions washed it off (my all-time favorite story about the Wall is that, in the few sections of Tijuana where some sections of it were attempted, enterprising Mexicans stole and resold the materials; and, nothing against them or their country, but “Directly subsidizing petty thieves in a foreign nation” is near the top of my list for “Unnecessary government spending”).
- Nuclear weapons — Okay, I will admit that the modern GOP is great about building more nukes, but is that really a solid campaign point? I’m great at surviving chemotherapy, but that doesn’t make, “More poisons for everyone, all the time” a good policy or strategy. And, realistically, if Moscow isn’t willing to nuke Poland or Ukraine to achieve their goals, we might want to discuss the possibility that we have all the nukes we could ever need.
- Small, Localized Government — We spent trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, to be fair, we reduced the amount of government in both of those places, but the costs of those wars bloated our military-industrial complex, and the tax cuts for billionaires didn’t do much to reduce our debt. The modern GOP is all about massive, inefficient government, they just do it with tanks and bombers rather than reducing paperwork and bureaucracy.
Here’s why all of this matters, and why I’m picking on Republicans, because, if they’ve repeatedly demonstrated that what they do is the opposite of what they campaign on, and it’s all on TikTok and Youtube, what will the GOP run on in November? What last, remaining issue do they have that will encourage illiterate Okies to vote against policies that would help them? Well, Mitch McConnell, Clarence Thomas, and other sexual predators have announced that they want to revisit contraceptive access, marriage equality, and, one assumes, the 13th Amendment. This needs to end yesterday. We have a system of government designed to be difficult to change from an outside, individual point, proving that our Constitutional Framers embraced the only ethical principle holy to white, abled, wealthy, heteronormative men: closing the door of opportunity behind you. That’s what this is, ultimately, about — limiting the opportunities available to you disgusting serfs that Mitch McConnell and his owners enjoyed. So, how do you, the lone peasant, make a change, in the face of such odds, apart from political violence? Well, there are a few things you can do:
- Remind everyone that their votes have real-world consequences — White Americans are the only people in the world who believe that their recycling will change the planet, but that our votes only impact other people who we will never meet (which is a very odd ethical concept in itself — “Vote on a stranger’s life, sight unseen”). People I’ve discussed this with inevitably get very uncomfortable when I explain how their vote put my life at risk. Similarly, people don’t ever want to sit down and discuss the approximately one million Americans who died due to regressive HIV policies (on top of the half-million Americans who died because President Man Hands told us that bleach was healthy and there was no cause for concern). If this piece aggravates you, personally, or you find it condescending or insulting, you might want to sit down and interrogate that discomfort. The importance of actually discussing real-world consequences can not be underscored, especially given that a few people I’ve called on their tolerance for bigotry almost immediately got weirdly defensive and sensitive about it. It was almost like what they think “triggering the libs” looks like, except it was much weirder. Obviously, don’t do this with white people with sidearms, but it really is a very strange, “Wow, guess I hit a nerve” moment when you see it. I wouldn’t say that being a jerk is my defining trait, or even my most-obvious one, but I don’t even go off like blandly ignorant white folks when others call me on my personal asshole characteristics (again, not my defining characteristic, but I’m not secretive about my more-abrasive tendencies)(which I’m currently displaying). A lot of people tend to back down from extremist views when you point out that those same views victimize you, and, will, eventually, kill them, and maybe they want to defang that system before they’re on the menu.
- Don’t put up with bigots, or people who tolerate them — Karl Popper once wrote that unlimited tolerance ends with the destruction of the tolerant. As a German acquaintance once put it, “What do you call 11 people with a Nazi at their table? 12 Nazis.” Similarly, Susan Collins’ willingness to put up with fringe theocratic fascist groups puts her on the same moral level. In order to understand how important tolerance is for hatred to thrive, paradoxical as it might seem, you must understand that one of the massive, unstated norms of modern life is that we have to tolerate or accept people with dangerous, lunatic beliefs, “because they’re family/friends/neighbors/whatever.” This acted as a “Get out of social consequences free” card for most bigots I know, and my family and myself not only put up with crazy racists, in at least one case, we helped steer them toward better medical care, when they clearly weren’t interested in that. Imagine if we just told Texas that they can go ahead and enjoy all of that energy independence they’ve worked toward. On a very personal level, I’ve started culling my social media of casual xenophobes, and, you know what? My life is much easier now. You would be amazed at how many extra people there are in your phone contacts, and your phone bills will go down. I’m not advocating for staying in leftist or fascist echo chambers (I mean, I did literally just suggest actually talking to them about their political views), just suggesting that you’re not benefiting from this casual tolerance. If you’re a minority member, this should be viewed as a mental health thing; you would be amazed at how many spoons you have left if you don’t spend them arguing that you’re human. As a cancer survivor, I have a somewhat unique view of human relationships: they’re survival tools. I don’t mean that human are exploitable resources (although Clarence Thomas clearly sees them as such)(at some later date, after a Xanax prescription, we can discuss the bizarre world we live in wherein a black guy gets to vote on the rights and humanity of other minorities), I just mean that we all depend upon other people for all sorts of stuff, at various points, and bigots and their enablers, suck up far too much of those efforts. Stop returning Aunt Barb’s calls, join Big Brothers/Sisters of America, you’ll do more for them than Barb ever gets out of complaining about “the Jews,” and you will break that cycle of enabling. You don’t even have to send out announcements, just ask yourself, before you answer the phone or drive to a party, “Is this going to improve my day, or improve theirs at the sake of my limited sanity and emotional reserves?” You would be amazed how utterly dependent the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of this world are upon others, and simply removing yourself from their Dunbar’s Number will dramatically improve your life, and minimally degrade theirs. I know this works because mediocre white people today bristle when accused of racism, because that label now has a social stigma attached. Similarly, you can rile your racist aunt up with a simple, “Oh, no, we don’t tolerate fascists around here” *CLICK* And continue with your day.
- Vandalism — Okay, I’m actually endorsing illegal action as a form of protest here, but, in my defense, in some of the environmentalist circles I run in, this concept has been around almost as long as Roe was. After all, you can’t bulldoze a forest if the bulldozers are burnt to a crisp. This sort of sabotage-as-political-activism was recently revitalized by the good residents of Santa Cruz, who torched ~$300K worth of municipal vehicles and equipment in response to a “homeless sweep.” How do we know this was the reason for arson? The kindly arsonists left the message “Leave the homeless alone” on the charred warehouse. Bad behavior continues until the costs associated with that behavior outweigh the benefits. One way everyone can immediately increase those costs is to hurl a brick through Jerry Falwell’s front window. Ted Cruz has three private bodyguards on each of his family members, and he’ll continue to destroy Texas until he can’t pay for that level of protection, so artificially increasing the costs of being a misogynist, today, is a quick and easy move (for your introductory course in destroying capital to reform capitalism, I recommend Dave Foreman’s Ecodefense). And, best of all, even if you break Santa Cruz’s $300K record, you will likely get a lesser sentence than if you’d sought an abortion. A lot of my lady friends are posting about burning the world (an act that might be redundant in the face of global warming), but I’d encourage them all to do some research on that subject and make an informed, personal decision on how to go about it.
- Run for local office — Remember my jab earlier about how there are no viable third parties? Prove me wrong. In response to increasingly racist, xenophobic rhetoric in the 1980s, Americans started creating “Sanctuary Cities,” municipalities with policies discouraging local law enforcement from enforcing national immigration laws (which, BTW, is the job of Customs and INS, so making the sheriff deport undocumented immigrants is, effectively, subsidizing the federal government, which is only going to use that money to give Warren Buffett a tax break). Americans labor under the delusion that federal government is some sort of omnipotent, omnipresent entity, when the reality is, the overwhelming majority of federal laws and rulings rely on local governments to enforce. Run as the DA with the slogan, “We won’t prosecute pregnant women” (hey, no matter how you politically identify, that is a solid, sensible policy everyone can get behind), and just quietly note that your office will never prosecute anyone for their reproductive choices. In fact, you’ll issue reprimands for any rape-y cops who ask women about their cycles (that’s basic high school etiquette, really, so Freshmen are better-behaved and more-moral than Moscow Mitch). In the grand scheme of things, it won’t change much, but you might make life slightly easier and more-bearable for a woman trapped in an abusive marriage with six kids, who desperately can’t afford to get pregnant, and can’t refuse their husband out of fear. And you can make life slightly harder for the bar owner who still refuses to serve black people.
As six people just demonstrated, the amount of change a single, determined person can affect is stunning, when properly channeled, and that, ultimately, is the goal of overturning Roe v Wade — to further demoralize and exhaust minorities from political action and participation, and demonstrate that the current power structure is completely beyond consequences. This needs to be met with calls not only to engage the process, but to actively hijack it (see Idea #4 up there), and refuse to tolerate naked sexism when you see it (see Idea #3 if you don’t have time to play coy and subtle). In short, now is the time to talk politics, confront people when their political choices intrude upon your political ones, and strangle this ugly little political movement while its still in the crib.