Monday 27 June 2022

Capitalising on Roe Vs Wade

Since Roe Vs Wade became a constitutional right via the Supreme Court in 1973, four men have held the White House for the Democrats. Between 1977 and 1981, 1993-95, 2009-11, and presently they have also held the Senate and the House of Representatives. Some of the years overlap with holding the presidency too. Yet, despite ample opportunity, the party has failed to legislate for and codify the right to an abortion. Indeed, sainted Barack Obama promised that signing it into law would be his first act as president. Needless to say, it wasn't an act at any time during his presidency. Whether it was complacency, not wanting to give the right something to mobilise around, or whether Obama simply didn't care enough, an opportunity was passed up to shield women from judicial attacks by the fundamentalist right.

When news leaked about the Supreme Court's plans to reverse the judgement, Democrat Senators mobilised to put abortion on the federal statue books. Unfortunately, their liberal heroics last month fell 49-51. A case of ah well nevertheless? No. With inflation creeping upwards and eating into the modest wage growth American enjoyed over the course 2021, Biden's achievements such as the trillion dollar infrastructure plan and the even larger Covid relief package are likely to become distant memories. Mobilising for the mid-terms, which were widely forecast to swing back toward the GOP as per the see-saw of US politics, was going to be a problem for the Democrats. With no answers to the current economic problems, they needed something that could turn out the vote and save their bacon.

Step forward Senate Majority leader Charles Schumer. He tabled the the Roe Vs Wade codification bill, but purposely designed it to lose. Knowing moderate Republicans would have a hard time supporting legislation allowing for abortion without term limits, it appears this "misfire" was quite deliberate. Democrats now have something to sell - a wedge issue which around 60% of Americans support. Billing themselves as democratic crusaders against the judicial activism of unelected, Trumpist fanatics is just the ticket. Yes, you read this correctly. Women's constitutional rights play second fiddle to the duplicity of House Democrats.

This will probably work. It won't be for the first time that a summer of mass activism is later channelled into the constitutional safety valve of Democrat election campaigns. But if the Democrats do retain their Senate majority, as past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour, are they really going to properly legislate for abortion? Are they going to codify LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage while they can, or let the Supreme Court strike these down too in time for the next round of elections? Cynical politics is often mistaken for smart politics. The problem is, after a while, people can see through these tricks. The erosion of liberal democracies in recent years is partly thanks to this sort of behaviour. It depresses participation with the consequence of letting the likes of Donald Trump through. With a comeback for the perma tanned Antichrist on the cards, do the Democrats really want to be playing these games?

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1 comment:

SimonB said...

I know US politics is just horrible, but this is so bleakly cynical it’s astounding. It’s notable that Starmer is copying some of the Dem strategies, suggesting a similarly nasty view of how to do politics.