We’re living in a dark period in American history - perhaps the darkest period since the Civil War. As the Trump regime continues to challenge the rule of law, the future of American Democracy itself hangs in the balance. Every day, the news seems to get more and more dire. And a lot of people are losing hope that things will get better. Many millennials lack the basic hope that they will have a future where they can adequately support themselves, own a home or retire.
Mitch McConnell’s Obstructionism in 2016
With Mitch McConnell’s refusal to confirm Merrick Garland1,President Obama was denied an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court Justice - forcing us to wait until the outcome of the 2016 presidential election to fill the vacant seat. When it became clear that winner was not Hillary Clinton, many in America gave a collective sigh. In the end, Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch2, who was confirmed by the Senate.
Announcement of Anthony Kennedy’s Retirement
Today, Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, the moderate justice that was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987, announced his retirement3. Kennedy famously gave us liberal rulings in cases concerning LGBTQ rights, abortion, capital punishment and racial equality. And conservative rulings on cases about campaign finance, religious freedom, commercial speech and federalism4. While I think history will remember him as more of a positive force than a negative one, he certainly has blood on his hands where Citizens United is concerned.
In essence, Kennedy is the deciding vote on most issues at the moment, on a court that is evenly stacked with four conservative Justices and four liberal Justices. His retirement is, rightfully, creating anxiety for a lot of Americans. His departure will give Donald Trump another opportunity to appoint a conservative Justice that will likely upset the balance of power on the Supreme Court for a generation.
Never Lose Hope
Looking at my Facebook today, there is a lot of anxiety and panic amongst liberals specifically and rational Americans, more generally. One super upset friend said:
I feel no hope right now. Republicans have ruined this country, likely for good.
Which is how a lot of Americans are feeling right now.
But we must never lose hope. We Americans are a resilient bunch. We will recover from this. And if we don’t recover, we will rebuild from the ashes. It may feel like there is no future, no hope, but we’ve survived a Civil War. Humanity has survived two World Wars, the Crusades, the Dark Ages and the collapse of Rome. We will survive Donald Trump.
In the meantime, stressing out about it and worrying, on infinite loop, isn’t going to suit any of us. There’s not a whole lot we can do about it right now. Sure you can protest and make your political voice heard, but the most important tool we have in our box is voting. Something that Republicans are great at and liberals are not. Make a point to vote. Get your friends to vote.
But until then, remember that you are powerless and that your energy is better spent doing good in the world. Rather than being depressed about a situation you can’t change. Go help someone. Volunteer somewhere. Make a difference in your community. Show the Trump supporters that we are not like they are.
One tool we have in recovery is the Serenity Prayer
May all beings be granted the serenity to accept the things that they cannot change, the courage to change the things that they can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Remember the Third Step. Don’t play god. This is one of many situations over which we are powerless. The only thing we have the power to change is ourselves. And the best way to do that is to be of service to others.
God Exists in the Spaces Between Us
This past weekend, I went to an 11th Step Retreat up in Auburn, CA. And one of the things we discussed is our spiritual fitness and how we are turning our lives over to god. When we try to play director and run the show, we’re not trusting god.
Another conversation we had was how god manifests in tragedy. Specifically, Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Which two of the other participants were impacted by. In both Auschwitz and Hiroshima, god manifested, in a seemingly hopeless situation, in other people helping each other. Victims of the nuclear blast taking care of each other - or helping the injured to die peacefully.
We must never lose sight of that. This is a dark moment in our history, but we can use it as an opportunity to help others.
How will you be of service? Tell me in the comments below.
McConnell: Blocking Supreme Court Nomination ‘About A Principle, Not A Person’, March 16, 2016, NPR, https://www.npr.org/2016/03/16/470664561/mcconnell-blocking-supreme-court-nomination-about-a-principle-not-a-person ↩
Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, April 07, 2017, NPR, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-gorsuch-confirmed-20170407-story.html ↩
Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire, giving Trump a chance to shift Supreme Court sharply right, June 27, 2018, LA Times, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-court-kennedy-retire-20180627-story.html ↩
The Supreme Court will now fall to chaos, June 27, 2018, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/with-anthony-kennedys-departure-the-supreme-court-will-fall-to-chaos/2018/06/27/a052dfde-5a01-11e7-a9f6-7c3296387341_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9ba3d59c356c ↩