Checks and Balances

I was recently talking with a liberal college-educated white woman in San Francisco. I don't know who she voted for, but she felt assured that our system of governmental checks and balances would see us through the next four years. She put it this way:

"Don't worry, Alicia" she urged. "We have a constitutional right to choice." [referring to the prospect of Roe v. Wade being overturned]

"What?!" I said.

"Yes, it's in the constitution."

I was horrified. I wasn't remotely tactful or soft in my reply. "You are wrong," I said. "There is no constitutional right to choice or abortion. Nowhere in the constitution does it say you have this right."

You should have seen the look on her face.

Now have the amendments in the constitution been used to argue for a woman's access to abortion in cases in front of the Supreme Court? Yes. But is a right to choice/abortion in the constitution?  No.

The difference is very important.

What this woman didn't understand, and most people, even the very educated don't understand, is how government and law works. Perhaps this is why so many comfort themselves with the idea that while we may not be able to trust Trump, we should trust the checks and balances that are built into our government. Except most people don't understand how these work.

At any other time, this lack of knowledge would seem harmless, but I hope people will now realize that a lack of knowledge about how our government and our legal system work can have devastating results.

Cry Me a River

The only people who were surprised by white people voting for white supremacy is other white people. Muslims, black folks and other people of color have been petrified of this outcome for a long time now, because we know how white power will do anything to preserve itself. We have seen it, worked beside it, watched it on the news, lived next door to it, witnessed it call itself our friend and then question our experiences with racism when we recount them. ... The only surprise to come out of this election is how many, and how quickly, white people want us to empathize with the people who voted against our humanity, our right to exist in this place. Even before the election, the Washington Post actually had the audacity to berate us for not crying for the white working class. In the days since Trump won, the numberof articles urging everybody to be cool to Trump’s America, to understand what they are facing, to hear their grievances, has added insult to injury. ...

Let me pass along some advice black folks have been given for a long time: stop being so angry and seeing yourself as a victim, and try pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. That’s really all I have for you right now, this re-gifting of wisdom.

~ Kalli Halloway in Raw Story