Whatever it is, it’s driven by America’s convoluted rule of the minority!
In my last column, “Around the Block catches up on the not so good news” (https://around-the-block.com/2022/05/03/around-the-block-catches-up-on-the-not-so-good-news/), I speculated that one of the reasons I hadn’t posted anything in over a month was due to ennui…boredom, lethargy, weariness. A reader, and a good friend, commented that my lack of productivity wasn’t ennui, it was depression writing, “Not ennui, but depression. Any American who is not depressed is not paying attention.”
This reader and my friend is a physician, but not a psychiatrist or psychologist. But he’s correct, if only partially. Partially in that his diagnosis should probably have been, “Any American in the majority who is not depressed is not paying attention.” Because as far as I can see, Americans in the minority are in a state of ecstasy!
Let’s start with the big news of the week, the leaked draft Supreme Court majority opinion that, as written and if passed, will overturn Roe v. Wade. Now let’s be clear, this is the original draft opinion which, based on how SCOTUS works, will most probably be somewhat different in detail in its final form. And, there’s no guarantee that all the conservative justices will sign on to this view. But, if they do, it will become the law of the land.
But, whose land?
Apparently, based on the latest polling in The Washington Post, the minority’s land. In a poll conducted between April 24-28, “…the survey finds that 54 percent of Americans think the 1973 Roe decision should be upheld while 28 percent believe it should be overturned — a roughly 2-to-1 margin.
And remember, if the prognosticators are right, four of the five justices who might sign on to this opinion were nominated by presidents who were elected by a minority of voters.
There’s more to this depression/ecstasy dichotomy, however.
Today, in an article in The New Yorker entitled, “Justice Alito’s Draft Ruling on Abortion Shows the Need to Curb Minority Rule,” writer John Cassidy opines, “If the Justices who have made the Supreme Court an agent of conservative counter-revolution overturn Roe v. Wade, there is no reason to believe that they will stop there.”
Cassidy goes on, writing about one way to counter the tyranny of the minority is to eliminate the Senate filibuster.
“…it’s difficult to see how Senate Democrats could get the sixty votes needed to end the filibuster…” going on to write, “Also, it is not as if the U.S. system doesn’t have other checks on the majority. The Electoral College and the Senate were both designed, at least in part, to avoid plebiscitary rule. In the current environment, the real danger is too little majority rule rather than too much of it.” (emphasis mine)
The systems and procedures in place that have led to the ecstasy of the minority and the depression of the majority in this country include: the filibuster; indeed the Senate itself, in which the senators representing Wyoming (population, 585,501) have the same power and influence as those representing California (population, 38,959,247); and, the Electoral College, which has thrown the election to two presidents (Bush – 2000; Trump – 2016) since 2000 who received fewer popular votes than their rivals; are virtually impossible to change.
Of course, there is a reasonable work-around that might level the Red/Blue playing field: statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Think about it. If there are two Dakotas, two Carolinas and two Virginias, isn’t it appropriate that at least one DC and one PR become states? Not only could that move level the playing, it might also help cure a major mental health issue affecting more than half the country.