Agent of (great) regression

20. He wants to bring back the bad old days

“Make America Great Again.” We’ve all seen it on the hats and the signs. By the time the 2016 presidential campaign entered its final weeks, those four words had already sparked much controversy. Some of us wondered how anyone possessing both a brain and a heart could possibly present such a phrase without intending it to be ironical. Others dismissed it as a mere slogan—a bit silly, perhaps, but essentially harmless. Four years later, our worst fears are realized. It means exactly what we were afraid it did: DT intends to return our country to a less evolved state.

It’s well underway already. The hard-won progress we made over the past century is eroding. The steady headway the nation had made on matters of race is endangered now. White supremacists, who outside of certain limited contexts had learned to shut the hell up and keep their heads down, have seen in the president a kindred spirit and are primed for battle. And it’s policy matters as well as social matters that are at stake: with an extremist-majority Supreme Court a near certainty, nothing we had come to take as settled law is off the table. Various civil rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act in its entirety, are under threat. So is the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. It seems that would suit DT fine. He wants to return the US to the Jim Crow era.

LGBT rights are at risk. Marriage equality is almost certain to be challenged before the court, and it seems probable that it will be weakened. SCOTUS’s recent surprise ruling on Title IX, which outlawed certain kinds of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, will almost certainly be superseded by one or more rulings that undermine its broad applicability. That would suit DT fine, too. He has made clear his disdain for transgender Americans, and he wouldn’t mind if the US returned to the pre-Stonewall period.

Women’s rights are under threat, not only from Title IX challenges but from a raft of other initiatives. Roe v. Wade will likely be eviscerated, killing some women outright and dooming a vast number of others, as well as their children, to lives of abject misery. It would also set a new, dangerous precedent, reducing women’s ability for self-determination and setting the stage for a return of state-sanctioned patriarchy. Surely that would make DT ecstatic.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is liable to be overturned, throwing 20 million Americans to the wolves in the midst of a pandemic. Programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, and Social Security are liable to be cut. It will be just like the 1930s again, except all the out-of-work Americans will be carrying pay-as-you-go phones as they stand in the soup lines. Or perhaps DT will find a way to outlaw soup lines. Maybe ICE could round up anyone without a job and detain them somewhere out of sight.

Even if DT’s pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg is confirmed, which is a near certainty, all of these regressive developments can be neutralized or even averted entirely—but only if DT does not have a second term.

Great or not

Greatness is both vague and subjective, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion of what it means. In times of rapid change, the past is always alluring. The past quarter-century has involved change happening at a pace unseen since the Industrial Revolution (if then), so it’s unsurprising that many people feel drawn to what they nostalgically think of as simpler, better times. Great or not, there is little doubt that some aspects of the U.S. were once better than they are now, at least for many people. There was less polarization, more common ground. Facts were generally accepted as facts, when the evidence to support them was available. Expressions of hostility and hatred toward minorities were more universally condemned. On issues ranging from gun control to civil liberties to the environment, meaningful advancements had taken place. For most of us, even among the more oppressed, hope for better times burned brightly, and it was justified.

So it would appear that DT is a total liar, even down to his simpleminded slogans. With assistance from his Republican cohorts, he has taken whatever greatness we had and systematically dismantled it. Another four years of his handiwork will ensure it is gone forever.

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