This is not a happy post. It is a warning, based on my study of governing history. It relates to the reality that across the globe we are seeing a titanic battle play out between two forms of governing: Patriarchy (in any of its many forms: e,g, kingship, dictatorship, tyranny, male-dominated oligarchy) vs. Liberal Democracy [see for example my book “War and Sex and Human Destiny” on my website: judithhand.net.]
With the election of the would be autocrat Donald Trump in 2016, the contemporary world’s oldest democratic republic now is faced with what I believe is the fateful deciding battle between the experiment of democratic government "of the people, by the people and for the people" and one form of patriarchy, viz. male oligarchy best represented by the U.S. Senate. In the USA the nature of the Supreme Court, the final arbiter of the laws of the land, is up for grabs. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a skilled champion of liberal democracy, has died and the battle is on to fill her seat.
Currently a male Christian majority holds an edge of power on the court and in their decisions they are influenced by conservative views. These reflect our patriarchal past rather than progressive views that reflect our ongoing progress into a fully mature liberal democracy.
Many scenarios are in play. And a presidential election will decide who in the future appoints and confirms judges to the court. Imagine if you will, this profoundly worse case scenario. The autocrat Donald Trump wins the next election. The U.S. Senate remains in the hands of his party, led by Mitch McConnell. He is a classically patriarchal senator with no respect for the norms that formerly guided Senate relationships and decision-making. They were norms that supported the democratic approach to decision-making.
So imagine that President Donald Trump, newly reelected, recommends that the size of the Supreme Court be increased to, say, thirteen. There is nothing, no law or even norm, to prevent him from doing this. With the help of Senate Leader McConnell, Trump nominates three extremely conservative judges that have one-way-or-the-other made clear that their loyalty is to the President. They are given lifetime appointments to the court. A man, for example, like Attorney General William Barr. The court thus becomes a powerful tool of a President who wants to change all laws to suit his agendas and whims. If you will, America becomes firmly fixed in perpetuity as one form of patriarchy, perhaps similar to Russia’s: a male oligarchy, a kleptocracy. Patriarchy wins the heart of America.
It can happen. Once a democracy is firmly lost to any of the forms of patriarchy, history teaches that it is not likely to be regained. And the experiment in liberal democracy, with its defining values like freedom of press, freedom of expression, freedom of a assembly, freedom of religion, respect for human rights, will be given a deadly blow.
VOTE! As if the life of the vision of liberal democracy depends on it. Because it does.
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Dr. Judith Hand writes historical fiction, contemporary action/adventure, and screenplays. Hand earned her Ph.D. in biology from UCLA. Her studies included animal behavior and primatology. After completing a Smithsonian Post-doctoral Fellowship at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., she returned to UCLA as a research associate and lecturer. Her undergraduate major was in cultural anthropology. She worked as a technician in neurophysiology laboratories at UCLA and the Max Planck Institute, in Munich, Germany. As a student of animal communication, she has written scientific papers on the subject of social conflict resolution.
Astronomy image credit: NASA: Full Hemisphere Views of Earth at Night.