In reading today’s post-“Dobbs” news stories and opinion pieces, I am somewhat reminded of the environment following the 2000 election of George W. Bush and the genuine sense of panic that was in the air.
To be clear:
As much as I think the original Roe decision was poorly reasoned, I agree with the court’s outcome in the Roe case (abortion is OK up to a point…), I have a great respect for stare decisis (50 years is a long time; and the original legal reasoning was merely slipshod, not immoral or unjust), and I sincerely wish the current court had left that decision alone.
I think John Roberts’ dissent was approximately right: if the court wanted to do something, it could have allowed Mississippi’s limit of 15 weeks to stand without overthrowing Roe entirely; and, while 15 weeks is, perhaps, somewhat shorter than I might prefer, it is not actually way-out-there extreme — it is, in fact, as long or longer than what most of the “enlightened” countries of Europe allow.
And, to be clear:
Today’s Republican party is not the party of George W. Bush. It has become unhinged. There is, indeed, more reason for panic now than there was then. I won’t be voting Republican any time in the near future unless I am presented with a candidate that has the clear courage and conviction to stand against what his party has become.
I am, nonetheless, reminded of what I wrote about things back then, when Bush succeeded Clinton, and in the context of how successful the “progressive” left has been at dominating the legislative agenda and the popular conversation for the last year. Here is a pointer to that 2001 piece:
And, here is an excerpt:
Nonetheless, amidst their collective despair, I would ask them to reflect on a truth: the fear they feel now, the sense of everything important to their lives slipping away, the sense of impending suffocation by moral repugnance, is what their conservative opponents have felt for the last eight years — and would still be feeling had the election turned the other way. I would ask them to ponder what that means and, perhaps, to begin to view their political opponents as they view themselves: as people honestly afraid of losing all that is dear to them in the arrogance of our winner-take-all political system. I would ask them to take from that an insight into how fear has shaped our politics and shapes it still.
If, in doing so, they can learn to reach across political differences, rather than exacerbate them, perhaps the next election will bring back a true “government of the people” — of all the people, rather than only of those who think and live like “us”.
- © Copyright 2022, Augustus P. Lowell