Another Day in the Belly of the Beast

By Felicia Gustin
Jun 25, 2013

What a day!  The Supreme Courts guts the Voting Rights Act. The Senate is considering the Corker-Hoeven amendment which will require an additional 20,000 border patrol agents, increased drone surveillance, and 700 miles of new border fencing at an estimated cost of $48 billion over 10 years. Texas is moving to eliminate reproductive rights for the women of that fine state while one lone Senator (Wendy Davis) filibusters until midnight to block its passage. The Supreme Court, in another decision today, challenged tribal sovereignty by undermining the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Imprisoned Attorney Lynn Stewart, suffering from lung cancer, was denied Compassionate Release today by the Federal Bureau of Prisons Director. Whistle-blowers are in prison(Bradley Manning) or on the run (Edward Snowden), effectively sending the message that if you call out illegal government, corporate or military activities, you have no protection. Obama makes his "historic" speech on climate change and really doesn't say anything "historic" (sorry, wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'  doesn't cut it). Whew, it's another day in the belly of the beast.

I've been ranting a lot today. To friends. To colleagues. To the woman on the bike next to me at the gym. It's one of those "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" days. And even if the Supreme Court rules the right way on marriage equality tomorrow or the next day, let's not let our joy blind us to the numerous tasks at hand - there is so much to be done. The future of this nation is at stake. Of the planet, really. So we have to be prepared for the Right's continued attacks on democracy and people's power and fight for a future that truly reflects justice for all.

So what is to be done? I share with you a blog from brother Bill Fletcher Jr., a racial justice, labor and international activist, and author of They're Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions and Solidarity Divided. Definitely some food for thought on a day when we are hungering for something other than bad news.

Supreme Court guts Voting Rights: not surprised, but sickened

By Bill Fletcher Jr.

“I cannot say that I was surprised. I think that all of the signs were there that the majority of the Supreme Court would move against the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That said, Ikept hoping that the Court would leave the Voting Rights Act alone. It did not work out that way.

It is critical that we understand that the attack on the Voting Rights Act is a conservative assault on the ‘future.’ This larger attack is not so much an undertaking by those who have always hated the Voting Rights Act, though that is, of course, one component.  Rather it is an offensive against the changing demographics of the USA and the implications that this raises regarding the potential for a progressive political realignment.  The political Right is very aware that the demographics are against them, therefore, gerrymandering plus gutting the Voting Rights Act is an effective approach if one wants to undermine the emergence of a new electoral majority.

Various liberal and progressive commentators have been suggesting that we must demand that Congress takes action.  While that sounds reasonable, in some respects, given the balance in Congress it is unlikely that anything will change. What is, perhaps, more interesting is to consider a different side to strategy, that which was raised years ago by the former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and has subsequently been raised by the on-line group “Color of Change”:  a Constitutional amendment on voting rights.  In other words, there must be a political movement built around expanding democracy–including but not limited to voting rights–rather than simply patching up the current system. This is not to say that liberals and progressives in Congress should not act to reform the Voting Rights Act and deep-six the Supreme Court’s ruling. I am hoping that something will be moved immediately. But what we really need to look at is the larger question of democracy and, specifically, the manner in which it continues to be threatened by NSA surveillance, drones, and, yes, the attacks on voting rights. These various issues need to be linked rather than treated separately.

We must keep in mind that since the 1970s there has been a concerted effort in the USA and most other advanced capitalist states, to turn back the clock on civil liberties and democratic rights. The Supreme Court’s decision against the Voting Rights Act is only one act in a much longer and mean-spirited drama. The moves towards authoritarianism must be resisted now, not some time in the future.”

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

Felicia Gustin has been with War Times since the beginning. She currently works at SpeakOut, a national organization working primarily with colleges, universities, and high schools and dedicated to the advancement of education, racial and social justice, leadership development and activism. She is a long-time activist in international solidarity, peace, racial justice and labor movements. She was a journalist for 10 years in Cuba and is currently working on several projects - an historical memoir and a poetry collection, among others.

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