The Snow Falls in Slow Motion as the World Turns too Fast: We Age Slowly and Feel It Suddenly

After several days of dangerous weather throughout the nation causing too much death and disruption, a “cyclone bomb” in many places, going from rain to ice to blizzards, with extreme windchills ⎼ temperatures changing where I live in a matter of hours from 45 degrees Fahrenheit to zero or below ⎼ today is cold but the snow is falling lazily, individual flakes dropping from a still, gray sky.

 

Inside myself, there’s a stillness in the center of a storm. A feeling that my life is changing too quickly, that I’m aging too quickly. Despite being 75, until recently I had felt internally maybe 35 or 40. Still exercised an hour and a half to two hours each day. Still wrote blogs each week. Until a year or so ago, despite being retired from regular teaching, and when the pandemic allowed it, I still led an after school martial arts class at my old school. But not this past year. One health concern after another, and the sickness and death of friends and family ⎼ this is aging me.

 

Add the earth in tears with so many species in crisis and near extinction; so much hate, politically manipulated hate and violence, thanks a great deal to a former President who, despite now being out of office, is still lying about and working to overturn an election he had lost, overturn democracy. Then there’s the invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic ⎼ this ages all of us.

 

My dad died at age 96. Before dying, he looked me in the eye and said, “you know, this man is dangerous.” He was warning me that DJT reminded him of the early years of Hitler. He would say the would-be dictator’s name, but wouldn’t say the German dictator’s name, and wouldn’t say ‘Nazis’, just pronouns, ‘him’ and ‘them.’ This wasn’t a warning I needed. But it did make the DJT presidency even more real and frightening to me.

 

Months earlier, my dad had talked about spending his whole morning just getting dressed and ready for the day. And then most of the evening getting prepared for bed. I wasn’t the most understanding, then. My comparative youth got in the way. But now I feel what he was saying. We age to the point where we spend most of our day waking up and then going to sleep. Or maybe, we do that our whole lives without realizing it, preparing for life instead of realizing we’re living each second of it.

 

We think death won’t touch us, then it does, and powerfully. At some point we need to look at the slowly falling snow and realize here we are. This is it. We’re falling; we have been falling since we first stood up. And now, the flake of snow is getting closer to the ground.

 

Can this closeness turn the whole thing around and make us also closer to waking up, to wising up as we get closer to dying?…

 

 

*To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

Ancient Lessons About Reducing Anxiety and Embracing the World

Despite feeling tremendous relief just a few nights ago, when Catharine Masto Cortez was declared the winner of the Nevada Senate race and my wife, and I, danced around the living room⎼ today I feel heavy once again. Why is that? I was so happy the Democrats exceeded expectations and maintained control of the Senate. The outpouring of support for the rights of women and to vote has clarified for all that the GOP war for autocracy can be stopped.

 

But sometimes, we get so caught up in a situation, a worry, expectation, and lose any perspective. We might be too frightened, traumatized, or invested and we see things only one way, as if the moment stood isolated in time. And we lose sight of how the situation came to be.

 

We might lose sight, for example, of just how traumatized we all were by past threats and those still looming. We have the GOP barely gaining control of the House and, of course, keeping control of the Supreme Court. And their leaders, DJT and others like him, are still threatening to seize the Presidency, avoid prosecution for their crimes, and impose their will on the rest of us. And the chaos they might yet cause, with their program of hate, lies, and division, and denying the factual results of this and past elections.

 

But not only is no human an island but no moment. The past sets up the present, as this moment educates the next. One moment’s mistake can lead either to another mistake ⎼ or to insight, when we can allow our heart, mind, and senses to be open to it.

 

I was reading a book by Joan Sutherland, a Zen meditation teacher, called Through Forests of Every Color: Awakening with Koans. In chapter two, she talked about how a new form of Zen developed in China in the eighth century in response to catastrophic times. Over just ten years, two-thirds of the population died due to rebellion, invasion, famine, and disease. The Tang dynasty of the time went from a flourishing empire to, afterwards, a barely surviving one, where life was so tenuous.

 

Of course, this mirrored back to me our own time, marked as we know too well, with so much disease, so many climate disasters, and the threats mentioned earlier of violence, and the attempted destruction of our democratic form of government.

 

No moment is the same as any other, but how did people, in awful times in the past, or going through awful times today, cope? Can we today, or those from the past, reveal ways of living that can help us through the pain to something we could welcome, to ways of living that meet our needs and strengthen our humanity?

 

I especially look to people like Zen adepts, those who have spent years studying the mind, body, and heart, and living harmoniously with others and nature. According to Sutherland, the Zen adepts and innovators of the 8th century,  realized that trying to escape their world through a narrow path to personal peace or religious ceremony would not serve them or their culture. They needed a sense of immediacy and, awful as it was, they got it….

 

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

What We Once Had, We Might Not Have Ever Again: Speaking for the Majesty of an Eagle Taking Flight

Listen. It’s raining. Luckily, it’s not yet snow. For the last four or five years, we have become more aware of how extreme and precious the rain can be, switching between either drought or flood. It comes like a storm, harsh, or like a shadow, then it’s gone.

 

But not today. The rain is steady, and the sound is beautiful. Like the sound of crickets and cicadas, the wind, and the waves of the sea, it’s absorbing and surprisingly comforting. For the moment, it even washes away any anxiety over the election.

 

Even the muted light is soothing today.

 

I notice the fallen leaves, yellow, burnt orange, a bit of startling red. The leaves almost cover the deep green grass, which is eagerly drinking in the rain. The earth is thirsty.

 

I close my eyes and just listen. The sound gets more distinct. There are currents in the rain. The pace of falling water speeds up, creating a wind of rainwater pushing against my body even though I am in the house. Then it softens to barely a whisper. What before seemed steady and continuous is now revealed as something else, something unique in its pace. When I simply listen, there is more to hear.

 

Two days ago, my wife and I drove into town. From the opposite side of the road, just before the farm stand where we buy corn in season, an eagle rose out of the tall grass. Majestically and ever so slowly, it took flight right in front of a dark van. Its wingspan was wider than the van, yet somehow the eagle wasn’t hit. It flew off in front of my car window, unhurt. But the driver of the van barely maintained control of his vehicle and then pulled off the road and stopped.

 

We can easily assume so much. That one moment will be like the previous one. We walk out of the memory of yesterday’s door and drive on our memory of yesterday’s road.

 

We might assume that because we can (hopefully) vote, now, or because we have (hopefully) protections on the job now, or can get Social Security, or healthcare, we will have it tomorrow. We might tell ourselves or others we will have it no matter who wins the election on Tuesday, November 8. But as the GOP have said, all this can and will end if they win control, just as they work to take away a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own health and when or if to have a family.

 

We need reassurance that our world won’t totally flip over on us. But to get that, we must pay enough attention, and be ready to act, so we’re not shocked when today almost slams into the windshield of our car….

 

 

*This is an update of a blog from October, 2020.

 

**Please go to The Good Men Project to read the whole article.

The Time Has Come: Right Now Our Future is Created

Right now is our time. For months if not two years, we’ve thought and worried about the upcoming November 8th election. And right now might be the last chance we have to influence the outcome and to vote. Right now, our future is created. Right now, our wishes, needs, and dreams can be recognized, or our worst fears realized. In some states, early voting has begun. In Georgia, for example, it begins October 17. If we act now, we can help secure the immediate future we need and hope for.

 

We all know this. The choice before us is both wonderful and dreadful. We have the opportunity to advance and protect our rights and the workings of law and justice, to protect our loved ones and community. To protect our natural world.

 

On the one hand, Democrats have worked for our interests, not always as well as we’d hope but as much as we could expect considering the nature of their opposition– considering that so many in the GOP are still lying about the election that Biden clearly won. Democrats made mistakes, but so have we all. They’ve passed some of the most important legislation in decades, to protect our health, environment, jobs, education. And they’ve done this even though much of the press refused to emphasize the good they’ve accomplished, the gains made by Biden, in terms of protecting labor and making healthcare more equitable.

 

On the other hand, besides perfecting the bald-faced lie, the GOP are firmly the party of autocracy if not White Nationalism. They cry about freedom, but want the freedom restricted for themselves. They oppose⎼ voting rights for all, choosing who we will vote for and having our vote counted; they oppose protecting the right to make health decisions for our own body, deciding if and when we have children, who we will marry , if we will have clean air to breathe or a climate that sustains human life. They oppose allowing us to decide what we will read and if we can afford to go to college.

 

The GOP, as signaled by Justice Thomas in the Dodds decision overturning Roe v Wade and overturning established legal precedent, threatened to destroy marriage equality and even the right of access to contraception. They talk about rising inflation and problems in the economy and try to blame problems their policies have helped create or worsen on President Biden. They opposed the Inflation Reduction Act en masse, after years of failing to create or pass any positive, meaningful legislation of their own when they controlled Congress, yet the states they control take the money provided and try to claim the benefits as their own, the coming jobs, infrastructure improvements, reduction in prescription drugs and healthcare. In 2017, they reduced taxation on the rich and have consistently worked to increase the sickening and unsustainable wealth gap. When taxes on the rich are lowered, economic threats rise and the rest of us are forced to make up the deficit. According to the latest Federal Reserve data, the top 1% of Americans hold more wealth than the lowest 50%.

 

Always remember, and bring this to the voting booth: Autocracy means only one person, or group is free⎼ and DJT is all about himself and rule by himself alone. For the rest of us, the vast majority of us, autocracy means oppression; it means the end of the rule of law and possible incarceration without due process. It means the whole vehicle of political and economic power is driven by the interests of only one person or group and they can run over the rest of us as they please. When you have no political power, all your power and freedom is curtailed.

 

Autocracy means living in fear and surrounded by hate. This is one reason why DJT and many GOP have supported Russian disinformation about Ukraine and the 2020 election. They want to unite with fellow oppressors and have become soldiers for autocracy. Putin knows he can’t defeat the U. S. with arms, so he is trying to destroy democracy with lies.

 

So right now, we must do all we can to get access to the news and get out the vote. Democrats, if we support them, have a good chance of keeping or even increasing control in the Senate but the House is clearly threatened. We can give financial support to, or make calls for Democratic candidates, or write cards to voters in our own neighborhood, not only for Congress but for a state’s Attorney General who can control how votes are counted. We can work as poll workers to ensure a fair and safe election and counter the GOP push to entrench those who will do their bidding and undermine the election. We can work to protect journalists and get out truth. [The links* provided in this paragraph provide ways to take action.]

 

During the DJT years, anxiety in the US increased dramatically. Trump Anxiety Disorder became a major psychological problem. Then the pandemic happened and anxiety increased even more, especially in Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American communities. Just before the 2020 election, anxiety increased and then decreased after President Biden was elected, although levels are rising once again.

 

Acting to win the election of candidates who will work in the interests of Democracy and for most Americans not only improves the chances of creating the political system we need, but of reducing the fear and anxiety many of us feel.

 

 

*Please consult the links above; in the first paragraph if you want to find the dates for early voting in your state. Or in the third to last paragraph, to find ways to help GOTV and elect Democratic candidates. Some GOTV campaigns are ending this week.

 

***This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

 

 

The Hideous and the Beautiful: A Good News Newsletter on the Two and the Infinite Sides of Humanity

There’s so much in our society and world right now that angers or frightens me, but also so much that is providing optimism, maybe, or at least, reassurance, that what we need or wish for is possible. I’m often tempted lately to write a good news newsletter to cheer up and energize myself and others.

 

First, there is the news that our legal system is greatly damaged but not broken. In 2021 and 2022, the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of murder and hate crimes. The DOJ has also increased its efforts to prosecute hate crimes.

 

Secondly, it has been so jarring and has created such anxiety in so many of us to see DJT’s obvious criminal, unjust, even traitorous actions escape any legal consequences, until, maybe, now. The Jan. 6 Hearings have and will continue to present for all to see (if they’d look) new and old evidence of DJT working to violently overthrow our constitutional democracy. Then there’s the evidence collected at Mar-A-Lago that DJT illegally took government documents, including classified files, with him as he left office. He obstructed investigations into that theft.  And the DOJ has opened investigations into his election interference, and issued over 40 subpoenas to people in DJT’s orbit. He faces a very good chance of a criminal indictment.

 

The GOP cry they must enact controls on voting (i. e. suppress the vote) due to voting fraud, but the evidence shows their claims are disinformation. Such fraud is a GOP created myth.

 

The biggest voting fraud is by DJT followers, some of whom are now being held accountable. For example, GOP officials and lawyers, such as Sidney Powell, have been exposed for breaching and illegally sharing voting information. In Michigan, DJT’s pick for attorney general is being investigated for a conspiracy to get access to voting machines. There is Representative Scott Perry in Pennsylvania and a GOP election official in Troy, New York, named Jason Schofield. According to the DOJ, Schofield “was arraigned on an indictment charging him with unlawfully using the names and dates of birth of voters to fraudulently apply for absentee ballots for elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021.”

 

Then we have criminal investigations against DJT in Georgia, fraud investigations in New York. And the investigation into DJT fraudulently raising money to fight a fraud that never happened, but he spent the money for his own personal uses. Some of these charges could result in jail time and/or disqualification from running for office.

 

Thirdly, with abortion, the GOP have exposed their heartlessness. Having an abortion is an awful choice to make, but it’s a mother’s choice. The GOP are not only trying to rip from women the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies; they’re demonizing mothers who want the right to decide when, how many, or if they have children. They’re trying to ensure women are legally considered second to men.

 

This has frightened and angered so many people. And GOP Senator Lindsey Graham’s call for making abortion illegal nationally just increased that anger. The number of those registering to vote to protect the right to abortion even in red states like Kansas has increased dramatically, and with young people as well as women. The whole election calculus is changing. In many states, the number one concern motivating women and young people to come out and vote is abortion, second only to protecting democracy. This is happening in many other states as well.

 

People are saying, “enough.” …

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Raging Metaphors: Are We in A Race? A War? Or on the Verge of a New Revelation of Who We Are?

How do we communicate what we’re going through right now? How do we select from the infinity of choices and realities that we face where to focus, and where to begin any narration?

 

We are certainly in an age of superlatives and metaphors. Ordinary language or speaking as we did maybe just 10 years ago, feels inadequate. The news often leaves us mute, if not angered, fearful, crying, or laughing at the craziness. It can feel like language itself is on the edge of failing us. Or maybe we are failing it; maybe we humans, or many of us, are failing in how we use one of our greatest inventions, namely complex, structured, and symbolic language.

 

We think of the primary job of words as helping us communicate and thus survive, but to do that it must aid us in perceiving reality more clearly and in better communing, coming together with others. The words we use, and the metaphors we create, shape how we perceive, understand, and act. Metaphors, as George Lakoff and Mark Johnson explain in their book Metaphors We Live By, are not just beautiful or extravagant ways of talking, but the way we define and frame reality. Truth. And relate with others. If we think of a moment talking with another person as a battle instead of an exchange of views, we are more likely to become physically embattled.

 

Or maybe words are working too well. Words could always be manipulated to deceive, distract, and hypnotize as well as utilized to analyze and focus. So maybe today our words are succeeding more in hiding than revealing. Maybe our words are failing to bring us together because too many of us are not examining our words to discern if they are bringing us closer or further away from the reality we are talking about.

 

And I realize I’m being contradictory, using language to point out how our language use is possibly failing us.

 

Today, too many political leaders are spreading disinformation, flagrantly distorting words, butchering language, and by doing so bringing us to the edge of butchering each other. The GOP have built a wall of lies dividing this nation of millions of real people into saviors vs devils, two sides in a war, 2 ends of a rope.

 

They are striving to win, to seize power at any cost, even if it means treating fellow political leaders, who used to be colleagues or at worst opponents, as enemies. The GOP lie about the 2020 election even though this undermines faith in, and the workings of, the government they swore to protect and serve. For example, they called a violent attack on Congress to stop a democratic election “legitimate political discourse.”

 

DJT labeled the FBI as an agency with a long, unrelenting history of corruption. Yet, while in office, he tried to force the FBI to serve his personal interests over the nation’s, and fired the FBI director partly to stop an investigation into himself and his own long legacy of corruption. DJT and his GOP sycophants attacked the FBI’s legal seizing of documents he had illegally taken from the White House and secure quarters by saying if they can go after an ex-President, they could go after anyone⎼ when that is precisely the point of a law, that it applies or should apply neutrally to everyone. Their blatant, malignant distortions sometimes evoke an anger so deep we can shout but not speak.

 

So which metaphors fit best?…

 

 

*To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

Sometimes, It Seems I’m Split in Two: Taking Us Where We’ve Always Wanted to Go but Never Knew We Needed to Go There

Sometimes, it seems I’m split in two. Did you ever feel that? Don’t we all at times feel divided against ourselves?

 

I hear a catbird complain and a cicada call out, continuously. A background concert the universe plays for me right now. Other birds join in. A car races down the road. A raven responds raucously. And I write about that. I write a blog about the comfort of nature, love, meditation, art, overcoming fear, feeling at home.

 

Then I hear the news, about DJT, the Supreme Court, Jan 6, new legislation in Congress, climate emergencies, people being flooded or burned from their homes. All accentuated, fueled by a warming planet that so much industry and GOP politicians want to hide from us. I feel anxious. I feel a desire to meet people and bring us together, to act, to speak. To change it all and resurrect justice. And I write about that.

 

And the two sides of me can feel so different, in opposition even. I feel wonderful after writing the first blog. There’s so much appreciation, gratitude, joy there. So much anxiety, worry, anger in the second. Concern. Care. I am so glad I wrote not only the first but the second blog. I feel I had to write it. There is power, strength in saying it. But it hurts.

 

There is care in both. Compassion. I touched on this in my last blog. They are both fueled, I realize, from the same yearning.

 

There are not two sides, but many. Maybe an infinite set. And maybe we always wish to be one being in agreement with ourselves, but we’re not so easy to pin down. Maybe it’s not that I’m split in two, meditative on the one hand, angry on the other. Maybe it’s just that since the universe itself is so indescribably complex, interconnected and ever-changing, it presents us with so many different faces that our face must change, too⎼ a new face with each meeting.

 

Sometimes, we’re just damn lucky. We see a person smile. The wind bends two trees together, so we hear them speak. Or it rains, and instead of a flood, it ends the drought, and the air feels lovely, cooling. Or we read a passage in a book, and it takes us right where we’ve always wanted to go but never knew we needed to go there. Nothing in or around us stands in our way or fights with us. We see it all up close and personal and the person we see or passage we read goes right to our heart and beats for us.

 

Other times, it’s more difficult to see how we and the universe fit together. But who said life would or should be easy?

 

In the first blog, ‘I’ disappear. It’s not just that my being at peace and yours are not separate. Looking at the tree in my front yard, hearing the catbird, the cicada⎼ that is home. It is where I live. And in the second type of blog, ‘I’ jump to the forefront clothed in fear, hurt, and pain.

 

Pain so easily closes us into ourselves or consists of us closed into our self. But what if we noticed some space between the beats of pain? Or we felt how much space there was around us, in whatever location or whatever room we were in? Or instead of taking in less, we took in everything? Then the pain becomes just one beat out of many, one place in a vast universe….

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Nothing Improves Our Sense of Strength, Or Expresses Better Our Ability to Care and Love, Than Helping Others ⎼ And Helping Others Vote.

Bob Dylan’s song, the “Masters of War,” has been in my mind lately, about the “masters” who do nothing but destroy and create unspeakable fears, the worst fear being to bring children to life⎼ or to love.

 

Since 2011 or so, levels of fear and anxiety have been increasing in this country and most of the world. We know this too well. And lately, it’s been getting worse, and not due just to the pandemic. Remember “Trump anxiety disorder”? Even though DJT is no longer in office, he and his supporters have continued to make the world more frightening. Then add economic strains, the climate emergency, and the war in Ukraine and what we face is increasingly disturbing.

 

More and more people have been feeling they have no future, or that our political system can no longer handle the problems we face. Especially young people feel political leaders can no longer do anything good for them. Many are furious at Biden for various reasons, for not pushing more for the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate so laws to protect voting and abortion rights, and our right to a world that is not burning up, could be passed. And in the past, for his role in limiting Senate investigation of claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas to Anita Hill, thus allowing him to be seated in the Supreme Court. Biden actually voted against Thomas’ confirmation.

 

Biden can in one moment be so competent and caring, such a relief from the GOP who came before him, and in the next can seem to not get it at all. He often distances himself from the progressive wing of his party. He met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, who is responsible for so many malignant actions including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. So, yes, pressure the President. We need to hold politicians responsible for actions they have actually done. But I fear this anger might lead some people to not vote Democratic.

 

In the case of meeting with the Crown Prince, Biden was using old fashioned politics when what we needed was courageous leadership. But we need to remember he was responding to those suffering from, and holding him responsible for, high gas prices and inflation. Should we hold those yelling about gas prices responsible for Biden talking with Ben Salman to get more oil?

 

We must remember that it is the would-be “masters” and the anti-democratic mass of the GOP who are manipulating this fear and it is they who need to be held the responsible.

 

Their goal is to shock us, get us to turn away from speaking out and political action. The GOP  not only try to directly suppress but also control the counting of votes. They are trying to convince us voting does nothing, there’s no power there. Or convince progressives that Democrats and Republicans are the same or convince moderates that Biden Democrats are too progressive….

 

*For information on GOTV campaigns, click on the GOTV links.

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

Acting So We and Our World Awaken Together: Patience is Powerful

We all know we’re living through one of the craziest, most dangerous times in recent or maybe all of human history. I keep asking myself, what am I missing? What more could I do? Where is it all going?

 

We understand mostly by placing one moment in the context of time and memory, by discerning implications and possible futures. But so many of the possible futures being predicted by the news, social and intellectual media are too dismal to consciously consider. Maybe we can help change the future we are seeing by changing how we think about the   present we are living.

 

I am drawn here to a book I mentioned in an earlier blog, The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers, by Eric Weiner, and his chapters on two philosophers not often paired together: Simone Weil and Mahatma Gandhi.

 

The chapter on Simone Weil is about “How to Pay Attention.” Our culture is hooked on speed⎼ and speed, according to Weil, is the enemy of attention, careful consideration, and even joy. Due to the speedy pace of our lives, we can lose so much. We can get caught in, addicted to this repeating cycle, speeding up to catch what is speeding by. And what makes this even worse is the pandemic, added to the injustices, lies, shocks and constant chaos manipulated by DJT and his allies to undermine our sense of stability and our belief in democracy.

 

Desiring is not the problem. The problem with desire is that we can lose ourselves in it, lose even the object we desire in the desiring itself. It robs our attention. A heroin addict doesn’t crave heroin, Weil argues, but the experience of having it. Even more then heroin, the addict craves the relief of the mental and physical agony of not having it. Buddhist teacher, author, philosopher David Loy explained that desire, craving can cause us to feel we are lacking, wrong, powerless, or deficient.

 

The Latin roots of patient are suffering and endurance. When we are more patient, we feel stronger, more in control. We can endure even suffering, and find ourselves happier, clearer in mind, calmer in heart. We can be present in the moment, and thus feel more open to what might come.

 

And then we pay better attention to what or who happens. Weil shows us that inattention is in fact selfishness. When impatient, we reduce others to what we can get from them. When patient, others are fellow travelers who teach us about our own journey.

 

When impatient, we focus on the fruits and yoke action to results. When patient, we make progress even if there are no visible fruits.

 

And how do we fight, now, for our rights, our freedom, and our world?

Gandhi was the father of the movement to free India from British rule and establish an independent nation. He believed he must try to root out the disease of oppression even if it meant suffering hardship himself….

 

*To read the whole article, click on this link to The Good Men Project.

GOP Trying to Replace Constitutional Law with Vigilante Injustice

We use the expression break the law to mean violate or disobey the law. But there is also break as in break into tiny, meaningless pieces. (And violate as in abuse or rape.) The Supreme Court is actively involved in breaking the law in this second sense. GOP controlled State Legislatures and Governors are doing this. DJT is and has been breaking the law in both senses for years in his asserting that anything that serves his immediate, short-term self-interest is truth and the law, anything that opposes him is criminal and evil.

 

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner argued recently that the Supreme Court, which used to and is needed to represent stability, fairness, and temperance has now “become headquarters for a majority group of highly partisan, reactionary players who make clear that they are uninhibited by history, precedent, or the will of the majority of the American people.” Their actions are about asserting power, not fostering the rule of constitutional law.

 

In one decision they argued for originalism, for the impossible task of sticking with the founding fathers’ original viewpoints. This view ignores the fact that the founding fathers lived in a very different time, where slavery was legal, women and men who didn’t own land couldn’t vote. Where the weapon of choice on the battlefield was a flintlock musket, there were no computers, and the world wasn’t threatened by a climate emergency. And they were all fathers, men.

 

In another of last week’s rulings, Oklahoma v Castro-Huerta, regarding Indigenous American sovereignty, the Court went against originalism. The ruling asserted a state’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on Tribal Lands. This, as even Justice Gorsuch wrote, violates not only precedent but founding-era understanding of law.

 

In 1832 the court ruled in Worcester v Georgia that the federal government had exclusive power to manage relations with Native nations, not states. Thus, this new court ruling violated its own legal opinions and destabilizes the rule of law and the court’s function of upholding the stability of the law. Instead, it asserts minority rule.

 

A Washington Post article by Colby Itkowitz and Isaac Stanley-Becker revealed the Court has agreed to hear a case involving the “independent legislature theory,” a conservative legal theory that asserts state legislatures should have virtually unchecked power over federal elections. It would erode basic tenets of American democracy including applying the rule of law equally to everyone and basing the ultimate source of all law in the people.

 

“[I]n its most far-reaching interpretation, it could cut governors and state courts out of the decision-making process on election laws while giving state lawmakers free rein to change rules to favor their own party. The impact could extend to presidential elections in 2024 and beyond, …making it easier for a legislature to disregard the will of its state’s citizens.”

 

Texas and other states have joined in this effort to undermine the rule of law. In its 2021 anti-abortion legislation, it created a sort of vigilante justice by deputizing citizens to sue and enforce the law instead of government officials. And it would pay the vigilantes $10,000 for each successful suit. According to a New York Times article by Sabrina Tavernise, whereas if Texas had put enforcement in the hands of state officials, those officials could be sued by abortion advocates aiming to bring their case to court….

 

*To read the whole article, please click on the link to The Good Men Project who first published it.