By Jesse Crall
The fate of our nation most certainly does not lie on the spindly, stooped shoulders of Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Anthony Kennedy or Stephen Breyer or any other Justice well into their dotage. It never did. This sentiment emerges from the middle & upper class sources of political discourse married to structures and status quos that tend to serve them well. Two thirds of Americans can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice. Is it because they’re morons? Or is it because the decisions made by nine unelected Ivy Leaguers in Washington D.C. feel so far removed from their daily lives as to hardly exist, let alone merit scrutiny?
I personally support a woman’s right to an abortion and on a broader political level find the recent abortion law in Texas cruel and short-sighted. Women with money in Texas will still enjoy the means, mobility and legal protection to travel to other states for procedures. The 17-year-old daughter of a liberal Houston advertising executive can take a little jaunt to Santa Fe and pick up some turquoise jewelry for mom while she’s there. The 17-year-old rape victim living in poverty doesn’t have the luxury. So Texas didn’t exactly ban abortion in their state; they simply banned it for people without disposable income and the ability to get a few days off work.
But does this new law, ghoulish as it is, represent the death knell of American democracy? Hardly. Before COVID, 130,000 Americans died every year as a direct result of poverty. 2.5 million children experienced homelessness. One third of American single mothers lived in poverty. A job market rigged against labor and in favor of affluent investors, for-profit healthcare systems and the Neoliberal assault on public institutions turned the United States into a cutthroat nation for tens of millions of vulnerable citizens decades ago. The Supreme Court certainly helped along the way but their strength only results from the lack of dissent among American citizens. Democrats will use this new ruling to fundraise and, I’m assuming, run vapid candidates in the Beto O’Rourke mode across the state on the basis of protecting abortion rights. For the Americans seriously invested in these political developments, little will change either way. We constructed systems acting against the interests of the working class and poor. Their material conditions deteriorate regardless of the Court’s composition.
After NAFTA, a trade deal responsible for the loss of approximately 1 million American jobs with detrimental ripple effects throughout the country, labor unions still backed Bill Clinton and the Democrats. Clinton cut the Aid to Families with Dependent Children in favor of the Chamber of Commerce-friendly Temporary Aid to Needy Families the same year Hillary published the ghostwritten It Takes a Village about children’s well-being. The same types of liberals shrieking now about Texas and the need to Vote Blue! made it a bestseller.
Like guns, abortion is a talking point, an opportunity for politicians and comfortable voters on two partisan sides to posture and fundraise in ways almost entirely divorced from the most vulnerable figures in any of these debates. The common line on the left goes something like “Republicans are pro-life until birth, at which point they stop caring.” Well, okay, but did you know that half of America’s homeless spent time in the foster care system? If you didn’t, that’s because Democrats don’t do any more to solve this lingering atrocity than Republicans. They just try different branding exercises to vacuum your money and your vote.
The Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8, should be overturned. Building up strong, lifelong social programs alongside reproductive education and a broader spiritual meaning for Americans would prove far more effective at curbing abortions without idiotic laws that only serve to punish the poor and endangered. But we live in a country that already abandoned too many of our children and mothers a long time ago. We can’t place the blame on a handful of Justices or reactionary lawmakers. In reality, too many Americans just didn’t care. Calls for Breyer’s retirement or packing the court or adding more blue states reek of excuses for problems the Democratic Party has no interest in understanding, let alone solving. Depleted uranium used in the Iraq War causes elevated levels of severe birth defects in Fallujah to this day. In 2018, Joe Biden gave George W. Bush the Liberty Medal. To think either party prioritizes the well-being of children or the freedom of young women here or abroad is to believe in a sales pitch and close our eyes to reality.
A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.