Friday, January 13, 2006

Hope & Faith & a Conservative Supreme Court

I dubbed this blog as being about “hope and politics” because I was tired of progressives who claim -- usually at the top of their lungs -- that all is lost. I’m sure you’ve heard the refrain: The neo-cons and religious dominationists have taken control of the media, lied and cheated their way into the presidency, overwhelmed Congress and even taken over our legislatures and school boards. Cue to the booming of sorrowful drums because: We. Are. Doomed.

I may hear more of that kind of screaming than most people because I hang out with worried progressives in Kansas, that reddest of red states. Most of the time, I get angry when I hear people spouting this kind of dreck. If you yell enough about being helpless, at some point you’re going convince yourself you actually are. Helpless people don’t fight back. In other words, the screamers may defeat themselves because they never stop screaming and do the work needed to change the political landscape.

Sometimes, though, particularly on days like today, I feel like my hysterical friends might just be right. I’m speaking, of course, about what’s happening with Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Given Alito’s performance in the hearings this week, pundits say, it’s a done deal. The man is on the way to a seat on the most important court in the country, and the Senate vote is merely a formality. Cue the really big, booming drums. The laws about everything from my civil rights as a mother and a lesbian to another woman's right to choose what happens to her own body to what rights we all have in a dictatorial presidency are going to swing wildly conservative. Note today’s Washington Post:

Alito Likely To Become A Justice
Samuel A. Alito Jr., an appellate judge who could shift the Supreme Court significantly to the right, appeared headed for the high court yesterday after completing three days of interrogation without a serious misstep.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee made a final stab at challenging Alito on presidential powers, the death penalty and other matters. But their efforts sometimes seemed halfhearted, and even the most liberal advocacy groups acknowledged privately that they saw slim hopes of preventing his confirmation later this month in the full Senate, where Republicans hold 55 of the 100 seats.

To state the obvious: By taking the Supreme Court seat of swing voter Sandra Day O’Connor, Alito will have a profound impact on almost every aspect of our lives. The neo-cons and religious dominationists are dancing in the streets. It must be time for the rest of us to go into mourning.

Or is it.

I can’t say that I have easy answers, and I certainly don’t have any idea about how to stop Alito’s nomination. But for some insane reason, I do have faith and an obscene amount of hope. I have faith that the American people are waking up.

More than 50 percent of us now disapprove of our president, King George. Every day more of us are furious about Jackgate and corrupt Republicans, the incompetence of George’s administration (think Hurricane Katrina and post-war planning for Iraq), being spied upon (think illegal wiretapping) and last, but not least, of having the government force its way into our most private decisions (think Terri Schiavo).

In short: we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.

Alito’s ascension to the Supreme Court will hurt. It will hurt like hell. We will lose cases. As a lesbian, I fear that the implementation of fair laws for gays could be delayed or derailed for a generation. In the long run, though, Alito’s extremism and the outlandish policies of the neo-cons and religious dominationists will move the fair-minded people of this country to the left like nothing has ever before.

I see it happening already in Kansas. I saw the tide turning in the campaign we waged last year against the amendment banning same-sex marriage. We lost, and lost by a lot, but we reached people I never imagined we would.

We reached clergy, we reached soccer moms and farmers, we reached conservatives, we reached moderates. And you know what’s funny? Once they understood the impact these unfair, nasty laws have on lesbians and gays, these so-straight, so-mainstream people were furious. I had to calm them down.

And if we can reach people and change their minds about for lesbians and gays in Kansas, of all places, then nothing is impossible.

That's it for me for the week. See you all on Monday.

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