Bad news for the US

I don’t want to add to the feeling of doom that many Americans must be feeling now but looking at the Supreme Court decision on abortion rights I don’t have anything supportive to say. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-25/united-states-supreme-court-overturns-roe-v-wade/101183036

What worries me most is an element I touched on in yesterday’s post about bounty hunters. The shaping of new state laws on abortion by Republican state politicians suggests an intentional strategy of bifurcating the US in a manner that would resemble the divisions just prior to the US civil war. Part of this may be less intended to directly create such conditions and more orientated at making states currently controlled by the GOP actively hostile environments for non-conservatives to live in, (or rather, even more so).

Secessionist and civil-war-2 rhetoric on the right has been gaining traction for over a decade now and the difference between what elected GOP politicians say (particularly at the state level) and what the typical right-wing internet comment-section/social-media blowhard says keeps declining.

For those of us not in the US, there is a different perspective. The government of the USA is a dangerous entity in the eyes of the rest of the world in many ways. It is capable of good and is literally an ally of the two nations I’m a citizen of. However, it has massive military power and poor accountability at the best of times. A shift into either civil conflict or authoritarian control (or civil conflict and then authoritarian conflict) is a terrifying prospect.

I don’t know what the way out is.


18 responses to “Bad news for the US”

  1. That nasty little neo-Nazi shit Josh Hawley of Missouri just made this explicit, claiming that the effect of the the Court’s overturning of Roe will be to force liberals to move from red and purple states to blue states, thereby cementing the GOP’s advantage in the electoral college. This is just an open call for white minority rule.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m just sad, right now. Not only have I been told I’m a second class citizen because I have a uterus, but I don’t think it stops here. (Oh, btw, they also took away the right to sue the cops if they don’t read you your Miranda rights, and let’s not talk about yesterday’s gun ruling…)

    And, well, there’s nowhere for me to go. At least I’m in California, which will probably fight to the end against some of this shit, but I’m getting too old to be able to immigrate to another country. And even if I could, I don’t have the money.

    *sigh*

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  3. Living in Arkansas, with a trans son, I’m feeling pretty hopeless right now. Thomas’s dissent made it clear neither the court nor conservatives plan to stop with stripping away Roe v. Wade. Marriage equality, sodomy laws, birth control, LGBTQ rights, they’re in the queue. And, of course, the rights of the police to do whatever they want to whomever they want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mean to sound Pollyannaish in any way, because this is all horrible, but the fact that Clarence Thomas wrote what he wrote does not have special significance in terms of predicting what the court will do next or what the right wing in general wants to do. Thomas is who he has always been, it is no surprise that he would undermine other rights if given the chance; and his words in this context have no special legal weight. He is just making it clear that he’ll go along if others go that way, but that was already clear.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, and it’s hilarious that of all the decisions Thomas mentioned, there’s one in the category he didn’t mention — Loving vs. Virginia. Huh, I wonder why he conveniently seems to have forgotten that one…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. So on the one hand, I think the impact of this particular decision gets exaggerated a little? SCOTUS have said that states can regulate abortion without falling afoul of the constitution. It now becomes an electoral issue in each state whether to pass regulations or not. I’m not sure that’s a lost cause, even in the states that have trigger laws – I rather suspect they have been passed partly because pro-choice voters have relied to much on Roe, and that opposing the law therefore haven’t been an effective rallying cry. Without Roe, voters are more likely to care about a candidate’s stance on abortion and that may be enough to turn things around.

    On the other hand, there’s so much else going on leading up to it – from everything going on with gerrymandering and voting rights, to the blocking of Merrick Garland, to pushing through Kavanaugh despite the rape allegations, to the whole 2020 election thing and the GOP stance on the findings of the January 6 committee. The Roe decision may not be the seismic shift that some people describe it as, but it’s part of a trend that’s even more worrying than the Roe decision would have been if it had been a stand-alone freak decision. And that’s dark.

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    • Think for a second about how your argument would sound if it were about, say, women’s right to vote, or segregation… hell, slavery for that matter. If a civil right can be taken away by a legislative act of an individual state of the US, then it is not a civil right. To say that that’s not such a big deal, because voters in conservative states could do something about it if they just overcame the majorities there who have elected far-right legislators, is simply to say that you don’t think reproductive rights really matter in the same way that those other things matter, that it should be OK for US residents to be oppressed in this way if that’s what enough people in the state want. Maybe that’s not what you believe but it is the logical consequence of your argument.

      You’re also assuming that the goal of the far right is just to pursue this on a state level, that they will not push for a federal ban as soon as they hold the other two branches, now that such a ban would hold up in court. That’s just as bad an assumption as the idea, heard constantly for the last several decades, that the far right didn’t *really* want Roe overturned because they’d lose their big campaign issue.

      Finally, please try to keep in mind that this is an incredibly immediate issue for many people alive right now. For some it’s literally life and death; for many others it’s a massive loss of autonomy and opportunity. Having an unwanted pregnancy in a state where abortion has been either outlawed, or made effectively unavailable because providers are living in fear, is not something one can just ride out until some future political realignment. If you don’t see this as an emergency because you think trigger laws will be reversed eventually, you may want to leave the opinionating to people for whom this is less of an abstract matter.

      Liked by 4 people

    • As a handy visual aid, please look at this page and consider that the eleven states shown in red are not the ones with a just-activated-trigger law (those are the nine last states in yellow). They are states that just recently passed bans, at a time when no one with the slightest interest in abortion rights could possibly have thought such a law was harmless because the Supreme Court’s intentions have been constantly discussed (and because many laws had already been passed that restricted availability of abortion as much as they could get away with). Pro-choice voters in those states were already motivated and afraid; they just were not as powerful as the far right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So many of those states have “stand your ground” laws that allow the use of deadly force in response to a perceived threat to one’s wellbeing. You can shoot a kid if they’re a bit scary but you can’t abort one if it’ll kill you.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Those laws in the U.S. only apply to white people shooting others and usually only if they shoot BIPOC. A black person feeling threatened and the need to defend themselves is considered a normal state for a black person to be in and so they have no justification to stand their ground against white people who threaten them. Their fear doesn’t count; only white people’s fears of them do in the U.S. It’s part of the idea of dominion baked into the law.

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  5. Cam, I’d like to understand better what point you’re making here:

    “The shaping of new state laws on abortion by Republican state politicians suggests an intentional strategy of bifurcating the US in a manner that would resemble the divisions just prior to the US civil war”

    What kind of resemblance do you mean beyond generally “very divided”? I am having trouble seeing this as analogous to the 1850s, at least compared to the much closer resemblance one could find to the 1950s or 1960s. The latter was a period when right-wing rule was very entrenched in a set of states that were not safe for either liberals or minorities, and the right-wing politics of the time were specifically reactionary, looking back to an idealized conservative order of the past and relying on fear of social change in general. The antebellum South was more about (in my limited understanding) trying to continue an existing social order whose structure was fundamentally different from the free states, and unsustainable without expansion and conquest. The Confederates were not people who had lived in a democratic society for a while and then took a turn toward slavery and became more rigidly devoted to it within a few decades; they were steeped in slavery from the start.

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    • I mean that their approach is intended to create hostility and legal conflict between states. The anti-abortions laws that now can come into force are varied but recent pushes by the right has been to create an actively hostile situation where abortion is treated as something close to murder. Meanwhile other states will be treating access to abortion as something closer to a civil right (which it should be). It’s not the same as the divide between slave states and abolitionist states but it is cleary intended to create the same kind of division. The logic of the current anti-abortion stance in the GOP makes planning to travel to another state to have a legal abortion akin to planning a way of commiting a murder. Meanwhile, a person from a non-anti-abortion state who is travelling in a anti-abortion state may find themselves under criminal investigation if they have a miscarriage while travelling. Now, laws in one state always have some spill over into other states whether it is drug legalization or gun policy but the abortion laws go much further in attempting to criminalize people’s bodies. The next step will be GOP states demanding that other states and the Federal government accommodate their perspective on abortion.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A cynical view is that the Republicans are using the threat of civil war to discourage push back against their policies. (Things have to be very bad before civil war is the lesser evil.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. At this point, the issue falls to the legislatures, and we simply need to campaign hard and turn out our people to vote. With luck, we won’t have to worry as much about being stabbed in the back by people who insist that if a candidate doesn’t tick all the right boxes, then “there’s no real difference between the two parties.” Yeah, the Republicans have done various things to make voting more difficult, but they’re not actually stuffing the ballot boxes; if enough people turn out, we’ll win.

    And if, in the face of this sort of court decision plus outright sedition on the part of the Republicans, then maybe the truth is that we deserve to lose.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The RW likes to talk about the U.S. Civil War because of the dreamy myths that fit all their authoritarian beliefs. But what civil war we’re having is not going to be like that war, like most civil wars that are region against region.

    The southern states in the U.S. were entirely economically dependent on slaves — breeding them and using them for slave labor as their main industries. To keep it going, they needed to be able to expand that slave economy into the west, especially as many other countries had stopped having open slavery and would not buy their lead “product”. The northern states had largely jettisoned slavery for the easier to manage cheap immigrant labor. They resented the 3/5th compromise (and the electoral college compromise) that gave the southern states increased political power from slavery and they certainly didn’t want the southern states to be able to expand that power into the west. They wanted to be the ones controlling and profiting from the western expansion. The Confederacy thought if they made themselves damaging enough that the rest of the Union would let them go (it had worked in the American War of Independence with England,) and then they could fight over the west. But the stakes were too high — with both regions right next to each other. The Union could not afford to become smaller and have a slave labor nation constantly battling them. And the Confederacy, while they came close to trying to do a hostage situation, simply didn’t have the resources and human power to break away.

    Now we are a long way from being post-colonies. We don’t have the regional separations of the past, even though the southern states have remained largely right-wing and pro-authoritarian — at least their controlling white population. We don’t have differing economies. We are deeply interconnected and people live all over the place and frequently move. Segregation still exists, but becomes harder and harder to maintain. Global companies use the whole country and are also outside of it. So it’s not possible for us to have a regional civil war. It’s not possible for us to have groups of states secede, or even just Texas. Every state is actually purple and heavily dependent on all the other states — for funding through the government, commerce, technology and energy, etc.

    So the civil war going on now, which has been going on since 1980 when Reagan was elected in reaction to civil rights movements, is a matter of re-establishing white supremacy systems throughout the country, rather than pitting regions against each other. They do this through offering lucrative fiefdoms to sheriffs/police, judges and local politicians — the ability to dominate and suppress political opposition locally while enriching themselves from public funding and a for-profit prison system. They hold off oversight from higher governing bodies and please with suppression the white voters they’ve trained to embrace bigotry and theocracy to be the elevated elite — one with increasingly less economic power, but hey, their leaders are rich and that’s really all that’s important. This system is backed up by billionaires and their organizations who fund coordinated operations to do this and openly provide agitators who go from county to county, school board to school board, screaming anti-civil rights propaganda to block marginalized groups from being able to overturn these fiefdoms. That gets their candidates elected who then give them the corporate welfare, deregulation and political power to take over larger chunks.

    So it’s not a matter of stirring up battles between states, though there will certainly be some. It’s a matter of trying to secure fiefdoms (including through the gerrymandering) and then trying to link those fiefdoms together to improve corruption and suppression opportunities — including in “blue” states. Then when those local fiefdom rulers have power, they just ignore the rules, laws and votes they don’t like and increase the power of the fiefdom. And then they try to spread it higher up. Because it’s local, non-autocrat and marginalized people in the fiefdoms have a hard time teaming up with others to combat it. Violent threats and intimidation tactics are ignored or reinforced by cops and justice systems that are part of the fiefdom. People often simply have to move, leading to more political segregation by county and then racial segregation is still enforced.

    It’s harder to establish a fiefdom in the U.S. than it was in the 1960’s and 1970’s. But there’s a whole huge corporate, religious and political network to back you up on it that has developed over 45 years. (This is what happened in Uvalde — it’s a fiefdom and it got kids killed.) So it’s a house to house civil war instead of a regional/state one. And it’s been highly successful in the U.S. because we are a white supremacist country and so white people who are not right-wing have been reluctant to see those who are as bad people who are trying to destroy democracy and kill and control them. They keep making excuses, not wanting to deal with it, saying it’s not a big deal, etc. Even when we have something as large as Roe over-turned, you will see numerous people opine that it’s not that bad, that white evangelicals are just scared and misinformed, that you can just switch states, etc. People have been trying to survive in the global pandemic, climate change disasters and economic whipsaws. So fighting back is hard, which is what autocrats work hard to compound.

    To restore abortion, reproduction, bodily autonomy and privacy rights — all now lost or open to loss because of the ruling — will require not just protests, pressure on politicians and voting but a lot of people willing to go to jail. Doctors and nurses who perform abortions and get arrested for it. People aiding those getting an abortion and going to jail for it. Pregnant people having abortions and going to jail for it. Our beleagured civil rights lawyers offering their time to go against all the civil rights cases including helping those jailed for abortion. And it will take other people being upset at it and screaming to get those folks out of jail. It probably is going to involve a reckoning with various police forces.

    And I don’t know if it will happen, breaking up these fiefdoms. The mayor of NY is supposedly a Democrat but he’s an enormous self-hating bigot who is creating a renewed police state in a “blue” massive city. He’s creating a fiefdom. If that happens there, it certainly happens in rural areas in Louisiana, which can then turn the whole state into a fiefdom, etc. My kid is in L.A., land of the blue. Cops were attacking pro-choice protesters there and arrested several of them. They have a fiefdom they’re trying to keep in power. We never really left the era of warlords and serfs/slaves behind, in any country and certainly not in the U.S. Australia is having the same civil war, the U.K. We just keep pretending that anti-civil rights positions are fair and free speech and have nothing to do with economics rather than repression. The hope is the younger people, but we’re giving them no options, no futures, making their protests illegal even when it’s Democrats ostensibly running the government. All in the name of a myth.

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