by Jim Powers
I was looking today at polling indicating that young adults in the U.S. are losing hope. They are losing hope politically, economically, and culturally. They are watching their rights being taken away and their country being torn apart by old white men, incredibly rich men and corporations, and religious zealots who have gamed the system to usurp control of our government and courts. And are concluding that they have no power to change things.
The fact is, though, that you young adults are the only hope this country has. And that scares those now clinging to power at any cost.
You need to understand that the object of their actions is to make you lose hope. They fear that you will come to understand your real power and take control away from them. They are lying to you, manipulating the government, the economic system, and society, deliberately adding gasoline to a culture war of their own making to distract you from what they are about.
Let’s talk about a few of those lies.
Shocked that the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade, thus allowing numerous state trigger laws outlawing abortion to go into effect in those states? Well, as Justice Thomas pointed out in his concurring opinion, you ain’t seen nothing yet. He noted that protections for gay marriage, contraception, and same-sex consensual relations should also be struck down because they established rights by the same rationale as Roe. Oddly absent from his opinion is the right to interracial marriage, also created by that same rationale. Perhaps because he is in an interracial marriage. Hypocrisy seems to be o.k. with him.
The majority in the Supreme Court insist they are deciding these things as they are because they are originalists, that the words of the constitution as it was created by the founding fathers is the do all and end all its meaning. That the constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding “at the time it was adopted.” You will often hear the argument from anti-abortion advocates that the word “abortion” is not in the constitution, so Roe v Wade should never have been considered by the court.
I don’t think I have to explain that there are many words that are not in the constitution, which is why it is the Supreme Courts job to interpret the constitution. Roe, for example, was derived from the right to privacy granted in the constitution. The Fourth Amendment states, “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Clearly that would include medical privacy and autonomy over your own body.
Many people have the idea from drawings in high school textbooks that the founding fathers were a bunch of old, incredibly wise men wearing white wigs, who in the constitution created a perfect document that they intended to be the beginning and end of the basis for our country forever. That is not true.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, most of the Founding Fathers were under the age of 40. Many were teenagers and young adults. James Madison was 18 years old; John Marshall was 20 years old, Alexander Hamilton 21 years old and James Madison 25 years old. Thomas Jefferson was only 33 years old.
These weren’t old men with wisdom gained from decades of life. They certainly didn’t always agree with each other and, in fact, varied greatly among their opinions. They were acutely aware that they were not creating founding documents that would hold up over all time (many weren’t, in fact, convinced the U.S. could survive at all). They were simply hashing out documents that they understood would have to evolve and change over time.
I’m an old man. Our government institutions are filled with old men. Most of us haven’t gained much wisdom because of living a long time. Many old men in government have been corrupted by conflicts of interest, by the wealth accumulated from voting for the interests of multi-billion-dollar corporations and special interests over decades of serving in office. Many others have theocratic and white nationalist agendas.
We don’t need old men in government who count their wealth while looking back longingly to 100 years ago when white male privilege pampered their feelings of superiority. We need young men and women of vision, and a desire for true freedom. The old men know that. And they are doing everything in their power to make you lose hope, to convince you to give up the fight for a better future and accept defeat.
I can write these columns every day for whatever time a 71-year-old man has left, but I have no stake in the future. You are our only hope for creating a progressive, inclusive country. Don’t listen to the lies. Get involved in government, vote for the future, not the past. Create the country you want to live in. I lived in the middle of the 20th century. You do not want to go back there.