WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (DS.C.) said Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was “anti-climatebecause the decision had already leaked.
Dozens of House Democrats, rather than joining the hundreds of people protesting outside the court, stood on its steps and sang “God Bless America” to celebrate bipartisan gun control legislation.
The Democratic National Committee has texted its supporters to immediately donate $15 to the party.
And Senate Democrats have announced a hearing on abortion rights – scheduled for their return from recess next month.
The day a Supreme Court empowered by the anti-majoritarian and anti-democratic provisions of the U.S. Constitution issued a deeply unpopular ruling eliminating the right to abortion – effectively banning abortion in more than 20 states – leading Democrats in countries had relatively little to say that they hadn’t said before.
Their main advice to the people they represent? Vote for us.
“This fall, we need to elect more senators and representatives who will codify a woman’s right to choose into federal law,” President Joe Biden said.
“This cruel decision is outrageous and heartbreaking. But make no mistake: it’s all on the ballot in November,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added.
For the liberal-leaning young people of the country, watching the elimination of a constitutional right and a Supreme Court justice who has already declared his intention to allow states to ban same-sex marriage and ban contraceptionthe message proved to be deeply unsatisfactory.
It was one of the few millennials in Congress, 32-year-old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), who best exemplified the rage.
“It’s not something that’s going to be solved in a day, or in an election, or in a year, because we have to buckle up. It’s a generational fight,” she said per speaker in front of the Supreme Court.
“We have to fill the streets. Right now, elections are not enough,” she continued. “I’m not going to tell you to give up, because we have to show up everywhere. We need sand in every damn piece of equipment. Elections alone will not save us. We have to go to the polls, but that’s the bare minimum.
Ocasio-Cortez’s relative audacity — his willingness to tell liberals to prepare for a decades-long struggle for the country’s future — stands in contrast to the November-centric thinking and usual approach of leaders in their seventies and octogenarians. Democratic Party, who apparently have little to say about the crisis the party is going through.
“Here’s what it means when Democrats tell people to vote: Vote in an Electoral College and Senate that is biased against black people, Latinos and anyone who lives in a major urban area. I hope the Republican Party didn’t make it too hard for you to vote.I hope your state hasn’t been gerrymandered.
The Democratic Party, even with slim majorities in both houses of Congress, faces obvious and glaring weaknesses going forward. The Senate (and to a lesser extent, the Electoral College) grants rural white voters massively disproportionate power, and the Democrats are losing them badly. Black and Latino voters, who make up a significant portion of the party’s base, are lumped into large states that leave them politically weak. A 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court is unlikely to change anytime soon.
The problem is long set to peak in 2024 when a number of Democratic senators from the red state — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio — will face the daunting task of winning their re-election when a Republican presidential candidate will likely win their states. 10 points or more. In the darkest scenarios, Republicans could end up with a filibuster-proof majority in 2025.
Progressives had ideas for solving this problem: Adding DC and Puerto Rico as states would make Senate bias less blatant. Eliminating the Senate’s 60-vote requirement would make it easier to pass popular legislation, which could win back some of those disgruntled rural white voters. Some have suggested adding more justices to the Supreme Court to counter conservative dominance.
One by one, Democrats tossed those ideas aside. Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema all opposed them. Others, like filling the court, were popular with an even smaller number of elected leaders.
There is another approach, perhaps best paired with Democratic data analyst David Shor, in which the party reverses its shift to more left-wing stances on social issues in recent years to win back rural white voters. But party leaders have given little indication of their intention to go in that direction either.
So here’s what it means when Democrats tell people to vote: Vote in an Electoral College and Senate that’s biased against blacks, Latinos, and anyone who lives in a large urban area. I hope the Republican Party hasn’t made it too difficult for you to vote. I hope your state has not been manipulated into making your vote make little difference in the House or state legislatures.
If the Democrats manage to overcome these difficulties, they will be hampered by an extraconstitutional requirement of 60 votes in the Senate. If they manage to overcome this, their law must be accepted by a conservative majority in the Supreme Court which has already displayed its contempt for precedent.
The mere existence of this Supreme Court is a powerful demonstration of how voting is not enough. Five of the six conservative justices – John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – were appointed by presidents who initially lost the popular vote. The Senate Republican majorities that elected them were backed by a minority of Americans.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is the president of NextGen America, the largest group working to train young progressive voters. She says she understands where the cynicism comes from.
“It’s so clear that on the majority of issues that Americans agree on, whether it’s gun safety, abortion, or raising the minimum wage, we’ve seen a stalemate in Washington,” she told HuffPost. “The latest Supreme Court decision, it fundamentally shows that there is something broken in American democracy, where we can have such extreme judges deciding what happens to the bodies, to the health of millions of people without any responsibility, and therefore out of step with the vast majority of the American public.
Instead of relying on politicians, Ramirez has a different approach: Focusing on young voters, who are far more liberal than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts have ever been. Millennials and Gen Z are much more likely to say that increased diversity is good for society, to want government to take an active role in solving problems, and to be worried about climate change. They started movements – the March for Our Lives, the Sunrise Movement – that reshaped progressive politics.
Turning those beliefs into public policy has proven difficult, but it also took the conservative movement nearly five decades — and a healthy dose of political luck — to finally succeed in overturning Roe v. Wade. And as the number of baby boomers dwindles, Millennials and Generation Z will soon make up the majority of the American electorate.
“I have placed my hope not in any particular politician, but in young Americans who have the power and the numbers to determine a different direction for our country,” Ramirez said, adding, “Voting is the most fundamental thing we need to do, but it is not the only thing we should be doing. We need to mobilize, march in the streets and organize others in our communities. It is not enough to elect leaders and hope that they will do the right thing.
Jen Bendery contributed reporting.