“Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.” – Gil Scott-Heron
Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court has done the job he was hired to do. Legal protections against corporate rule—and the economic oppression and ecological damage that comes along with that—have been essentially turned into so much societal tissue paper.
And, with the recent Shelby County v. Holder decision, which gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act, it would be completely understandable to feel as though our democracy is slipping from our grasp, and with it our ability to have a voice in the society in which we live.
But that is not the case. John Roberts may be taking a sledgehammer to the 20th century social safety net at the behest of the Koch family and their upper crust allies, but we are not moving backwards as a society, nor will we. Not where it counts.
As has been detailed in this space, Roberts’ justification for kneecapping the VRA was that we had progressed as a culture to the extent that such protections were no longer necessary. Right, and we should stop inspecting New York City food trucks because sanitation technology has progressed to the point of eliminating salmonella.
Any person, of any political persuasion, should be able to objectively look at the reality of our present-day society and come to the conclusion that we have a long way to go before the baggage of the genocide that birthed our nation is truly in the past. But that’s neither here nor there.
The Voting Rights Act isn’t what changed our society for the better. It was the blood, sweat, and tears of the people who performed their role in the struggle, from the Underground Railroad to the greater labor organization movement. The legislation was merely a reflection of that struggle.
It is true that the VRA was crafted for a different time, and to address modern realities, we need modern solutions, so maybe there is an argument to made that we should set aside certain 20th century infrastructures in favor of newer, better solutions. But let’s be clear, John Roberts and the people he serves don’t give two shits about solutions that better society overall.
For them, it’s about bettering themselves and maintaining their economic domination. It’s about setting the conditions so we are more likely to be out here working their stupid slave jobs, hating our lives, and using our precious time and energy to make them richer.
In states like Texas, some people are going to have to drive (or more accurately, find someone kind enough to drive them) as much as 250 miles to obtain the needed identification, just so they can exercise their fundamental rights as American citizens. This means that some people simply won’t be able to vote, and that some close elections are going to be won by Kochites and TEA Partiers, which is going to lead to more bad policy, which real people are going to have to live with.
In the long run, though, their efforts are going to fail.
In the most recent presidential election, places like Ohio and Florida became ground zero for the new voter suppression strategy that has clearly become central to the GOP’s long-term power game. In response, people braved the six-hour lines and, in some locations, even turned the long wait into an excuse to throw an impromptu cookout.
The Koch Family Crime Syndicate and their servants can throw all the legislative flak they want at the voting process. We’ll power through it. They used to send dogs and dummies in sheets, and, before that, they used whips and chains. We can handle a little waiting.
We can handle their (often successful) attempts to corrupt every leader, because it’s not really about leaders. It’s about humanity as a collective embracing our own power and recognizing that the folks at the top only have as much power as we give them. Their whole hustle is convincing us to give them more power than we should.
There will always be powerful people, and, sadly, people whose avarice blinds them to the damage they are doing to themselves. And unfortunately, sometimes those people are one in the same and we all have to live with the consequences of their greed and arrogance.
The reality of the world, however, is that the true power rests with the people, and always has. The powers that be are just a bunch of greedy old fuckers, who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are, trying to convince us that they are some kind of all-powerful shadow conspiracy.
But it’s really just smoke and mirrors. They are small. They will lose.