In May 2022, a memo was leaked to the media which indicated that the Supreme Court would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion. Despite the warning, the announcement of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision sent shockwaves across the country. The 6 to 3 conservative majority is doing just what republicans promised they would do if they were given electoral control of the presidency, Senate, and state legislatures.
The shock that a 50-year old right has been eliminated produced the expected reactions. There were protests at the homes of justices, at federal courthouses, and at the Supreme Court itself. Curiously, there were no protests planned at the home of Barack Obama, the person who could have acted to protect the Roe decision.
During his 2008 presidential campaign Obama promised to pass and sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would have enshrined abortion rights into law, and remove it from the purview of the courts. But he did no such thing. On April 29, 2009 he gave a press conference on his 100th day in office and said, “The Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority.” Obama had majorities in both houses of Congress and a veto-proof majority in the Senate. Not only was this legislation not his highest priority, it wasn’t a priority at all. He never attempted to get it passed.
However Obama is not the only villain in this story. In all likelihood he didn’t act because he knew that most democratic members of the House and Senate didn’t care that much about abortion either. It would have been a significant political lift but very few democrats cared enough to do any lifting.
Of course, Obama and most democrats didn’t care about anything other than doing the business of the ruling classes, that is to say neoliberal austerity and imperialism. That lack of concern for anything they claimed to care about resulted in the loss of 1,000 seats in state houses and congress during the Obama presidency. Any concerns expressed for the so-called down ballot races were like abortion, meant to keep the rubes in line and pulling the lever for democrats. Obama was a fundraising juggernaut, but for himself only. All the money raised was used to keep him in Washington where he could cut deals like his “grand bargain” with republicans. As democrats lost seats abortion rights were restricted across the country. Now only 16 states guarantee abortion access and democrats are complicit in bringing about this disaster.
The truth is more insidious than democrats feigning concern on any particular issues. Voters are products that political parties sell to elite interests. Of course the ruling classes have a variety of interests, which is why a duopoly is necessary. Liberal democracy is a means of getting what they want for themselves. They must go through the motions of caring about abortion rights or voting rights or any other issue. The people are the means to get to the ends of ruling class control.
Unfortunately for democrats, a republican voter is more likely to get what they are promised. They get tax cuts, voting rights restrictions, and austerity, all of the issues that align with right wing and white supremacist politics. Republicans are in line with the thinking of their voters and give money and other support to their right wing.
In contrast democratic elites don’t want what their voters want. So they lie to them over and over again. It has to be pointed out that their voters are a lot more gullible and continue the same actions yet hope for a different result. The Voting Rights Act was eviscerated in 2013 with little response from the democrats and now abortion rights are also forsaken by the fake left party. Yet millions of people continue to give democrats their votes in an effort to protect themselves from the more conservative “white peoples party.” Democratic voters are clearly more indoctrinated than their republican peers.
The failure of Roe is a result of not forcing Ruth Bader Ginsburg to step down when Obama still had a democratic majority in the senate or failing to make a recess appointment and getting Merrick Garland seated. But these strategic mistakes were a direct result of treachery among democratic party leadership.
Why does Nancy Pelosi say that she needs a strong republican party? By that she means one that is not so obviously right wing, one that she can cut deals with and escape condemnation. In 2017 she also said that the demand for abortion rights was “fading” as an issue of importance. It was fading for her because she has one overarching objective, doing everything except what democratic voters want.
If there is a silver lining to the Roe debacle it is that voters are starting to wake from their delusions. For years millions of people were disgusted by the democrats’ lies. They knew their needs weren’t being met but the biggest reason they gave for continuing the dysfunctional relationship was to protect the federal judiciary. Now after years of holding their nose and voting for the electoral con game they have nothing to show for going along with candidates they didn’t want.
Black people are the biggest victims of the duopoly trap, having been convinced that their safety depends upon keeping the likes of Obama and Pelosi in office. Of course they did nothing about the Voting Rights Act either but old habits die hard and thinking outside of the political box is treated like an illegal act. Now their worst fears have come to pass despite years of being the most loyal of all democratic constituencies.
The democrats should not receive one red cent, or one vote in the congressional midterm elections in November. The fight must be taken to local races and to movement building that hasn’t taken place for many years. Protesting at the home of a SCOTUS justice is a waste, so is giving money to Democratic Party linked abortion advocates. They too are complicit in the betrayal. The time for illusions has long passed. The pent up energy and outrage has to be expressed in grassroots organizing at the local level. If not there are even worse defeats coming in the future.
Photo credit: Biden and Pelosi by Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0). Obama by SEIU on WikiMedia Commons (CC BY 2.0). Schumer by Gregory Hauenstein via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). SCOTUS building by Joe Ravi via WikiMedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).