Today, our democracy inhabits a danger zone. If our present indicates our future, we are witnessing the demise of the First Amendment: the freedom of religion, speech, and the press; the rights of assembly and petition.
When the Bill of Rights was penned, these rights were granted exclusively to white male landowners. However, decades of struggle against inequity have validated singer Sam Cooke’s prophetic lyrics: “Change is gonna come.” For it did. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 dismantled the egregious laws of the Jim Crow South. Women’s lives were transformed through advances in contraception and availability of safe, legal reproductive health care. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare cast safety nets for millions of Americans. The 20th century brought light to America.
By contrast, the 21st century looks dark. We seem to be moving in the opposite direction, from democracy to theocracy. Many elected or appointed officials, from state legislatures to the courts, choose to govern and hand down rulings through the lens of personal faith. Decisions based on religion, fueled by a vocal minority, infringe upon freedom of speech, religion and separation of church and state.
Polls indicate that the majority of Americans oppose the overturn of Roe. Banning contraception and abolishing same-sex marriage may also be threatened. Banning books from libraries and free discourse from the classroom has already begun. Marginalized groups are being “legislated” out of existence, “DeSantis style,” in a white-washed version of Black history for kids. “Don’t Say Gay,” is the DeSantis mantra of hate against the queer community, labeling LGBTQ people illegitimate, as if they must have legal permission to exist.
We must not allow government to engage in cultural genocide.
Democracy is on attack from within. Vote into office people who are not self serving, but intend, selflessly, to serve.