It's interesting, as I have done for the past ten days or so, to take such a long time off from the daily news. I am lost right now on the day-to-day minutiae of political posturing but it's not hard to regain a sense of the overall trajectory.
Welcome to the 2012 presidential campaign, now officially underway – that is, if you falsely believed it hasn't been going on since 4 November 2008.
Without the input of the latest campaign ad attacks, faux outrage, lies and refutations, I have had time to think about what is at stake in the November election.
That ought to be the presidential election, right? Well, I don't think so. From his speeches, it has been easy to see that Mitt Romney has an enormously inflated idea of presidential power – an affliction suffered by all candidates until they attain the White House. Just ask President Obama.
So I'm much more concerned with the other two branches of government and foremost between them, the Judicial. The next president of the United States will be called upon to appoint at least one and possibly three Supreme Court justices.
Although our courts are supposed to be independent of political bias, that ideal is never met. But has there ever been such a democracy crushing Supreme Court as the current one? With each decision, they move our nation more terrifyingly toward the extreme right.
We all know about Citizens United and are seeing the disgusting results as rich people and corporations pour billions of dollars into this year's election campaigns. But did you take note of the Court's decision in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders on 2 April this year?
According to Adam Liptak writing in The New York Times (emphasis is mine),
”The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.
According to Liptak, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer referenced examples of arbitrary strip searches in his dissenting opinion:
”Citing examples from briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer wrote that people have been subjected to 'the humiliation of a visual strip search' after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.
“A nun was strip-searched, he wrote, after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration.”
If you do not think this can happen to you, go back and read those last two paragraphs again. Then imagine what a Supreme Court could do to Constitutional rights with just one more right wing zealot - especially if the Senate too were majority Republican. We are chillingly close to that situation.
A president can nominate a justice of any or no political stripe. Doesn't matter. What does matter is the Senate which confirms the appointment by a simple majority vote.
So it seems to me that to ensure a future for Constitutional law in the U.S., the most important elections this year are for Congress.
The media lumps all elders into the right wing of the political spectrum. And it's true that an embarrassing (for me) number of my contemporaries believe way too many of extreme right wing articles of faith.
But there are the rest of us and there are some ways we can, perhaps, make a bigger difference than just through our votes. One of them is to contribute to the campaigns of candidates in states not our own.
Nothing says we cannot and our money – even small contributions – are needed because most of the billions unleashed by Citizens United go to Republicans.
Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, a reliable populist who caucuses with the Democrats, is up for re-election. There probably isn't much chance he'll lose the election. As Wikipedia explains:
“Polling conducted in August 2011 by Public Policy Polling found that
Sander's approval rating was 67% and his disapproval rating was just 28%, making him the third most-popular Senator in the country.”
But why not help make sure with a small contribution. You can do that here if you are so inclined.
Another of the good guys, Democrat Alan Grayson, was defeated in 2010 by a Republican zealot after being heavily targeted by right wing radio, conservative pundits, organizations, money and even Sarah Palin.
He is back this election season running for Congress from the new district 9 in central Florida, created due to population growth. Here is one of Grayson's recent ads – I like its retro feel and the numbers are correct:
He's going for the House seat so would not vote for a Supreme Court justice but we sure do need his voice in Congress. You can find out more here where you can also contribute to his campaign.
Feel free in the comments below help create a list of good-guy candidates we should all be aware of.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: A Pereidolia