Just As I Thought

Capitalizing on ignorance, fear, and bigotry

There was potential good news today: a Field poll of Californians shows that a slim majority favors same-sex marriage rights. 51 percent in favor, which is the first time majority opinion was in favor since 1977, when the polls began. 30 years ago, only 28 percent were in favor.
Another poll last week by KTLA and the LA Times showed that 54 percent would support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

On reading about this, I came across yet another quote, thus: “England said plenty of voters calling her group are outraged that the Supreme Court overturned Prop. 22 after it passed with 61 percent of the vote.”

The idea that voters believe that the Supreme Court should be deferential to voters is outraging me.

Here’s a conspiracy theory for you.

From the outset of the Republican Revolution in the 90s, with Newt Gingrich at the head of the snake, the right wing has been systematically carrying out a grand plan to create what Republican leaders themselves call “a permanent majority.” This strategy includes appointing only conservatives to the judicial branch, from justices to prosecutors; freezing out any lobbyists who weren’t party members; cronyism on a huge scale; party faithful in all positions of power. Sounds like Soviet Russia so far, doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more.

Perhaps the most pernicious strategy they’ve engaged in is the careful and constant application of buzzwords, slogans, and misinformation in an attempt to re-educate the public along conservative lines. The death tax! Terrorism! Fight them there instead of fighting them here! And the specific phrases we’re talking about here this morning, “legislating from the bench” and “activist judges.”

The conservatives, through sheer repetition, have convinced a majority of Americans that the judicial system is some kind of subordinate to the legislative branch. That once someone makes a law or once voters express an opinion, the judicial branch has no say — that the people have spoken. Anyone with an elementary social studies education will recognize that this is completely ridiculous.

And there’s the rub: another prong of this permanent majority strategy is education. It is telling that Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” — another example of putting a cutesy slogan on a noxious policy (see “Patriot Act”) — omits social studies and civics altogether. This act which treats schools as if they were factories and children as if they were widgets going through quality control, is deliberately constructed to force schools to teach a certain curriculum to the exclusion of all other subjects. To meet the requirements of NCLB, schools must immerse students in math and reading, and eliminate programs such as physical education (gosh, why are kids getting fatter?), arts, languages (doesn’t everyone in the world speak English?) and — telling — civics and social studies.

We are turning out a new generation of citizens who have no clue how the government works. Considering the civic awareness of many of their parents these days, this is very troubling.

Because if they took social studies and learned how our government is supposed to work, they’d know that the founders created the judiciary as a separate branch of government specifically for instances like we see today: to temper the tyranny of the majority, to apply the laws equally and strike down those that are unconstitutional. The courts are supposed to be a bastion of fairness (supposed to be, I know) to balance the legislature and the “will of the people,” which are often exercises in majority rule over the minority.

Considering that the majority of justices who overturned the same-sex marriage band were Republicans, the conservative strategy to undermine the authority of the courts by stacking the bench seems to have had little impact in this case; but their attempts to convince the public that judges are somehow overstepping their authority is obviously a winner.

Browse the Archive


Browse by Category