Leonard Pitts Jr.: This is what happens when you stay home on Election Day
Polling shows that the political left represents the majority opinion on every social issue, including abortion. But having the majority means nothing if you lack the will or the wit to wield it.
"Maybe we need to blow this b--ch up."
Five years ago, that was the considered opinion of comedian Mike Yard, a panelist on Larry Wilmore's old Comedy Central program, "The Nightly Show." It came as candidate Bernie Sanders absorbed a crushing primary defeat in New York and it was becoming clear he would not be the Democratic nominee for president.
Panelist Rory Albanese had suggested that, faced with a blindingly obvious choice in the fall -- Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump -- Sanders supporters would, "for humanity," now switch their allegiance to Clinton. But Yard, echoed by fellow Sanders diehard Susan Sarandon, declared to howls of approval from the audience that he wasn't buying it.
"People that supported Bernie are not people that play the game," he said with just a soupcon of sanctimony. "They're not afraid to blow s--- up."
It felt self-righteous and immature in the moment. Given all this country has since endured, it simply feels tragic. Especially now.
Meaning of course, Monday's stunning leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. If the document, which was first reported by Politico, indeed represents the court's final word on the matter -- which seems likely, albeit not certain -- then we are witness to the end of a woman's constitutional right to abortion, which is to say, to chart her own reproductive future.
Had Trump never been president, he would never have been in position to name three justices to the high court -- one of them to a seat blatantly stolen from President Obama. So this travesty bears the fingerprints of all those people who, for whatever reason -- her perceived mendacity, her ambition, her failure to be Bernie Sanders or, heaven help us, her emails -- could not bring themselves to support Clinton. Not to mention those who simply stayed home on Election Day in the blithe assurance that there was no way Trump could win.
One hopes they're all satisfied.
It is axiomatic that Republicans fall in line, while Democrats fall in love. And love is a lovely thing. But there are times pragmatism must carry the day.
Yes, the Democratic Party is often frustrating, its timorousness exceeded only by its ineptitude. But until and unless our political system evolves a viable third option, it is the only party that is not actively crusading to repeal the last 70 years. And that's not nothing.
This ruling, if it holds, will require women to have babies they cannot care for and do not want. Some woman will give birth to her rapist's child because of it. Some child will give birth to her own sister because of it. Women will die because of it.
That's the price you pay when you're "not afraid to blow s--- up." Part of it, at least. After all, it's not just the curtailment of reproductive rights we're facing. It's also the curtailment of African-American and LGBTQ rights. It is books pulled from library shelves and the imposition of Christian prayer in public schools.
It is, in other words, the infliction of 1950s values upon 2020s America.
And the vexing thing is, it didn't have to be this way; this was avoidable. As has been previously noted in this space, polling shows that the political left represents the majority opinion on every social issue, including abortion. But having the majority means nothing if you lack the will or the wit to wield it.
Maybe the left will finally understand that now. Lord knows they've paid dearly for the lesson.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.
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