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This Is Us. We Are the Majority. This Is Why We Fight.

Charles Jaco: Thanks to a majority of white voters terrified of losing their racial privilege in a multi-ethnic America, all three branches of the federal government are now in the hands of the kind of people we fought World War II against.

Thanks to a majority of white voters terrified of losing their racial privilege in a multi-ethnic America, all three branches of the federal government are now in the hands of the kind of people we fought World War II against.

this is why we fight

The monochromatic coalition of affluent white suburbanites, whites with a high school education or less, and right-wing white evangelicals have now given us a viciously conservative U.S. Supreme Court to go along with a Congress and a White House controlled by a white nationalist political party. The future of our country is now in our hands, because we’re all that’s left.

What’s left are African Americans, who’ve always known this country was built on lies and hate, but many still love it even though, as James Baldwin wrote, “The flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you.

Thanks to a majority of white voters terrified of losing their racial privilege in a multi-ethnic America, all three branches of the federal government are now in the hands of the kind of people we fought World War II against.

What’s left are women, 52 percent of the population, whose access to abortion, contraception, and equal pay are threatened, whose stories of sexual abuse have been minimized by Trump and his Republican minions of both sexes, who face a U.S. Supreme Court where almost one-fourth of the Justices (Thomas and Kavanaugh) have shown open contempt for women.

What’s left are Hispanics, whose forebears (or maybe themselves) came to America looking for a better life and who have plowed their life and love into America, only to be called rapists, murderers, drug kingpins, and un-American for daring to speak their native language in public.

What���s left are the disaffected white people, vilified and called “race traitors” by their own kind, suddenly aware that the amber waves of grain about which they sang are under attack by fellow white Americans who want to turn the beacon of hope for the world into a walled-off white ethnostate.

What’s left are non-white immigrants who took the beacon-of-hope hype seriously and now find themselves viewed suspiciously and often physically attacked for looking different and for coming from cultures that aren’t northern European.

What’s left are the LGBTQ communities, whose fear of their fellow Americans, always present, has now become hyper-vigilance as homophobic Proud Boys pledge allegiance to Trump and a battalion of Trump judicial appointees threatens decades of hard-won equality and acceptance.

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What’s left are young people, who grew up under the weight of a financial collapse engineered by unregulated fat-cat money manipulators and now face a gig economy, without security of benefits, and a planet where 95 degree October days may soon be common and Miami will become an underwater park off Florida’s new southern coast.

This is us. We are the majority, ruled by a racist regime put into office by Trump supporters who make up less than 35 percent of the U.S. population. This is us. We are the patriots left standing as that regime compromises and corrupts every governmental institution, from Congress and the courts to the FBI. This is us. Like Baldwin, we love our country and reserve the right to criticize it ceaselessly.

These are a series of battles of a long war that will stretch out years after Trump is gone, simply because the 63 million Americans who voted for him won’t be. Their racism and white victimhood have been validated by Trump and his policies. They support an authoritarian regime because it promises to Make America White Again. They will not go quietly. They will not go quickly. But they will go.

They will go partly because Dr. King’s moral arc of the universe does bend toward justice, eventually. And they will go because, according to both Yale constitutional law professor Jack Balkin and Wesleyan University constitutional scholar John Finn, we are in the middle of a cyclical period of “constitutional rot,” where constitutional structures, like Congress and the courts, still exist but have lost both legitimacy and respect.

According to Balkin, periods of rot happen when one political epoch is ending and another, not yet born, is waiting in the wings. In the 20th century, the Gilded Age of robber barons and runaway capitalism began to stagger and fall around 1901, when Teddy Roosevelt became president. That, in turn, slowly ushered in the Progressive Era, which saw women get the vote, the social reforms of FDR, and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Progressive Era ended in 1980, when the country began a rightward drift that still continues in what Balkin calls the Reagan Regime. Even though the Reagan Regime is dying, Balkin says the next decade could be awful when it comes to federal court rulings on women’s rights, worker’s rights, and civil rights. That’s because in the years of constitutional rot between political eras, the courts – especially the Supreme Court – have made some spectacularly bad rulings that were eventually overturned, but did incredible damage while they lasted.

The Dred Scott decision was handed down as the country prepared to stage a Civil War to purge the antebellum era of slavery and replace it with something new. In the years of constitutional rot between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v Ferguson that segregation was constitutional as long as the separate apartheid public facilities were equal. And Balkin warns that a Clarence Thomas-Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court, existing in our own time of constitutional rot, will probably hand down similarly awful decisions.

But waiting around the corner, Balkin concludes, is the inevitable replacement for the Reagan Regime: the Second Progressive Era. And that new era, he predicts, is already near takeoff speed, powered by political mobilization arrayed against the authoritarian racists who support the Trump regime, which is itself nothing more than the last deformed offspring of the Reagan Regime.

charles jaco

The rot will last for years. Much of the America we knew will be washed away. But when it ends, and it will end, something new will be born. This is why we fight.

Charles Jaco
St. Louis American