Uvalde and America

I've been struggling with this one, and I need to talk this through to organize my thoughts. There are no answers here, only anguish, rage and despair. You've been warned.

The last several years have been kind of rough if you're an American with inconvenient notions about equality and human rights.

It started a decade ago with the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which effectively made corporations the equal of actual human beings. It was followed up by the unprecedented denial by the Senate majority of the right of a President to have a Supreme Court nominee voted on. It continued with the election of you-know-who in 2016, which gave permission for all manner of crazies to openly manifest who they are. That was then followed up by the rushed approval of a Supreme Court nominee right before you-know-who left office, which would seem to contradict everything they said about "letting the next President choose the nominee" when Obama was in office, and raised questions about the legitimacy of the Court.

The newly right-wing court then proceeded with a series of decisions (and cases they declined to hear) that opened the floodgates. Rollbacks of voting rights, women's rights, and assaults on all other manner of rights. When you restrict voting rights, or make it hard for people to vote, or somehow manage to ensure that black districts have fewer or no polling places while white districts have them all over, it's not hard to discern what the intent is.

Among the other horrible things the Right has been doing, they've been consistently "pro-Second Amendment," which somehow always seems to conveniently ignore the part about "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free stateā€¦". Something called "constitutional carry" has become the thing, which effectively means if you're a citizen you can have any damn gun you want, and to hell with permits.

And that brings us to what happened in Uvalde, Texas.

An 18-year-old with body armor and legally purchased guns entered an elementary school and killed two teachers and 19 children. Meanwhile, the police who responded remained outside for 35 minutes, afraid to go in because they might get shot, and restrained or arrested parents on the scene who decided that if the cops were going to do nothing, they'd go in and rescue their kids themselves, as any parent would. When the police finally went in, it appears they first tried to protect their own kids.

Uvalde spends 40% of its budget on police. Hardly seems like they got their money's worth.

Others will talk about what this all means, and what we've become. It's not like this is the first school shooting in America. Anyone remember Sandy Hook? Kids were killed, and America (or its politicians and radio talk show hosts) decided that dead children didn't outweigh anyone's right to have a gun.

If you're not enraged already, you're not paying attention. It seems to me that Uvalde is a symptom, and maybe a harbinger.

We're in a place where we have a Supreme Court that not only is not representative of the American people, as opinion poll after opinion poll has shown, but is demonstrably political itself. It's one thing for a Supreme Court to make impartial decisions based on the Constitution; this seems to be something else entirely.

The Senate majority hasn't represented a majority of Americans since 1996. We're in a place where we have a Senate majority that now represents only 43.5% of the American populace--and we won't even get into how many of those 43.5% actually voted for them--so a minority can block anything they want at will. And they are.

They've blocked a Supreme Court nomination. They're blocking meaningful gun control legislation. They're blocking attempts to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a woman's bodily integrity and the right to have an abortion, something an overwhelming majority of Americans favor. They're blocking attempts to restore the Voting Rights Act. They don't want democracy, because democracy means they lose.

What else do you think they'll go after? Birth control? Same-sex marriage? Interracial marriage? You may scoff, but these are not Eisenhower Republicans. They're the lunatic fringe, only the fringe is now the mainstream. In states like Texas they're already trying to make it illegal for women to cross state lines to get an abortion in places where it will remain legal.

We're a country divided, and increasingly so. I don't know how we can reverse this trend. I don't know how we can become more united, not less so. The gulf is widening. And when we do manage to elect Democrats, most of them seem unwilling to take on the crazies in any meaningful way. Even something as simple as a Senate procedural change to get rid of the filibuster is seen as beyond the pale by Democratic leadership. So why exactly do we elect these people if they're not going to fight for anything?

I was born in the United States. I'm no longer certain that I will die in the United States, even if I remain exactly where I am today. There are a few possibilities: we somehow come together and rediscover what the US is supposed to stand for, or we descend into right-wing authoritarianism, or we explode into outright violence leading to God-knows-what. When a government no longer represents its people, and when they see no way to change that through the system, anything can happen. To quote JFK, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

And even if we somehow stay together, it may not be a United States worthy of what it claims to stand for.

What I do know is this: the Right will continue its assault on democracy. There will be another shooting. More kids will be killed. Our so-called leaders will continue to mouth platitudes, talk about thoughts and prayers, and do absolutely nothing.

And eventually, someday, it will be too late. Maybe it already is.