Turns out that the Supreme Court’s action to eliminate a woman’s constitutional right to abortion was merely the “canary in the coal mine”. The passionate and persistent desires of the conservative political community in the US, some dreams stretching back to FDR, were suddenly possible. Abruptly, John Robert’s moderation was overshadowed by the enthusiasm of the new Justices joining those who had longed for this hyper-conservative majority. Moderation be damned! We had actions that appeared to open the door to more support for fossil fuels, more constraint on federal government regulation, more confinement of individual state’s efforts to curtail gun violence, and the threat of future constraints on gay marriage and birth control, …it felt a bit like a damn had burst. Any illusion of an apolitical Supreme Court was demolished.
When I started this blog, I was focused on and exploring the numerous deconstructions that appeared to be developing as our experiences of a pandemic shaped us. These deconstructions seemed to me to be often triggered by sudden overwhelming evidence of dysfunction. We were emerging from our Covid caves and confronting dysfunction everywhere and discovering deconstructions everywhere, with little insight into their meaning, impact or potential. One of the sites of observable dysfunction and deconstruction was the federal government of the US.
I picture the US federal government as a three-legged stool: the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches creating the three legs. The intent was balance of power and influence and historically this often was the outcome. Emerging from our Covid caves, however, with almost extreme clarity, the dysfunctions of the executive and legislative branches were apparent and their deconstruction hovered in our awareness. Various judges within the judicial branch seemed hell bent on trying to keep the ship of state from sinking. Many took comfort in this. Then the end-of-session decisions of the Supreme Court were announced. Now all three legs looked dysfunctional and the deconstructions could be documented. A federal government trifecta!!
Now there is always hope and possibility available if you can find it. Mine hovers in the space of deconstruction. As a student of complex adaptive systems, I recognize that deconstruction is a necessary precursor to creating a whole new possibility. As long as some structure “holds” a space, it is difficult for the totally new, creative and imaginative to displace it. But if it falls apart, the opportunity for change expands.
The wary warn: deconstruction also creates a vacuum where far more destructive forces can claim dominance. This is the fretful position of those concerned about the global rise of authoritarianism and the local decline and distortion of democracy. I have no easy panacea for this concern. It is real and realistic.
However, so also is faith in the human spirit, the thousands of human efforts both globally and nationally to create a better world. These are rarely the focus of “the news”, so we know too little of them. The “news” is essentially negative in character: what is bad, awful, harmful, defeating, dishonest, etc. And this version of the “news” has something of a strangle hold on our various types of information media. One has to go in search of the “good” news, but it does exist.
So, if the Supreme Court can go off the rails this completely, I reason, and show serious signs of dysfunction as it alters its purpose, practices and outcomes, seemingly uninformed about or indifferent to the majority views in this democracy, then deconstruction is looming. And that for me is a reason to hope.
I have to admit that I wish I knew the timeline on all of this. I wish I knew what would replace the corroding structures. I wish I could name the courageous leaders who will emerge, and the creative impulses they would manifest. I have none of this. I do have, however, the wide-angle lens of centuries of human history. Increasingly, destructive forces do not perdure. They cause a great deal of suffering, but they do not perdure. Possibility and hope hover…
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
~Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia