Monday, April 11, 2005

What Our Ruling Minority Wants

This is easy. It wants a theocracy, a one-party rule without any checks and balances, and it wants to get rid of the last two obstacles in its way: the damn judges who refuse to toe the wingnut line and the filibuster in the Senate, because that gives the Democrats a teeny amount of veto-power.

Is this what Americans want? It depends on which Americans one means:

The day after Terri Schiavo died, Gallup pollsters began calling Americans to ask them how various national figures had acquitted themselves in the operatic debate over whether to remove the terminally ill woman's feeding tube. The results seem to provide a simple outline of American opinion on the matter. In short, Americans think the Schiavo case was none of their business. The poll, like all other polls on the case, shows that Americans, by an overwhelming majority, don't think it was the president's or Congress' business, either. Asked what issues matter to them, Americans said pretty much the same thing they've been saying for months -- terrorism, healthcare costs, gas prices and the state of the economy. "Changes to how the federal courts handle moral issues" is an issue deemed "extremely important" by only 20 percent of the nation.

Here's the troubling thing: That 20 percent is running the country, and they're now pressing for such changes in the way the courts decide cases. While most Americans are apparently indifferent to the long-term implications of the Schiavo case, many religious conservatives see it as having lasting political utility. Its most important outcome, they say, is in highlighting an unsettling flaw in American governance. They call this flaw "judicial tyranny," though most of the rest of us know it by a friendlier name, "checks and balances."

The "nuclear option", as getting rid of the filibuster used to be called, and the hatred of all things judicial are connected. If the wingnuts kill the filibuster they can pretty much stuff the whole federal courts system with Attila the Hun replicas. Or replicas of Savonarola, also known as Scalia. Can you imagine America under such a judiciary? Are we going to look any different from Saudi Arabia in some crucial respects?

I don't know, but I wouldn't leave the answer to this in the hands of James Dobson:

Dobson, the influential evangelical leader and founder of the ministry group Focus on the Family, unleashed a 5,000-word attack on the judiciary in the April issue of his Action Newsletter. Dobson writes that "although many fine men and women serve on the bench," their decisions on moral issues illustrate "the heady abuse of power that is all too common among independent fiefdoms known as judges. They rule like royal monarchs. And sitting on the top of the pyramid is the U.S. Supreme Court, which threatens the liberty that was purchased with the blood of countless men and women who died to secure it."

Dobson is a man whose worldview is not much different from that of Osama bin Laden, to be honest. He wants a feudal theocratic society where women know their place and where every government decision must be vetted by a literal comparison to the bible. He definitely wants a one-party conservative America to begin with.

But Americans actually don't, not as a rule:

A recent Wall Street Journal opinion poll asked respondents whether they thought the Democrats' proper role in Congress should be to "work in a bipartisan way to pass Bush's legislative priorities" or, instead, to "provide a balance so Bush and Republicans don't go too far." By a 2-1 margin, respondents wanted Democrats to make sure that Bush doesn't go too far. As for the filibuster, 50 percent want to keep it, while 40 percent want to see it defeated.

But Bush will indeed go too far. That is very clear. And the lint-Democrats will not even try to stop him. The only hope we have is in the eighty percent of voters in the last election who did not vote on moral issues (a codeword for being a wingnut). They must learn to vote differently in the future. Or get used to living in Gilead.