Nel's New Day

September 17, 2022

Loss of Democracy on Constitution Day

September 17, 2022 is the little noticed Constitution Day. The U.S. Constitution was signed in Philadelphia 235 years ago, and leaders swore to uphold this framework for democracy. In the beginning, it protected only white men; almost 200 years were required to give women and minorities more equal rights.

Meant to be limits and protection for the government power, the Constitution divides the rule of the government into three parts to block a monarch or a tyrant. Congress writes laws, levies taxes, borrows money, declares war, pays debts, establishes courts, sets up a postal service, and provides for “the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” The president can veto laws, but Congress can override the veto. The judicial branch settles disputes between states and guarantees a jury trial.

A major problem after 235 years is the continued belief of some states’ governments that, although they cannot strip people of the right to vote, they can stop citizens from this right, preferably the low-income and minorities who are feared by conservatives to support their rights. At this time, Republicans use threats and violence to destroy the ability of people to participate in the voting process, both in going to the polls and in working to help people carry out their constitutional right to vote.

These attempts to prohibit voting go beyond the 400+ voter suppression bills introduced in 48 states creating barriers to register, vote by mail, and vote along with redistricting, gerrymandering, and mass purges of voter rolls. Repeated requirements of “citizenship papers” intimidate naturalized citizens, and threats of violence against election workers drive them away from what they see as their civic duty. Inside the polling places, watchers can frighten voters by standing close to them, challenging ballots, or brandishing weapons. Outside, bullies can wear military-style garb when confronting voters, write down voters’ license plate numbers, block the polling entrance, aggressive question voter, and follow them.

After the election, Republicans who lose spread the lie that they actually won but the election was rigged—even if they lose to another Republican.

Recent events are threatening U.S. democracy and its foundations:

A judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to declare DDT above the law because he was elected to the presidency in 2016. She also ignores the importance of national security documents by delaying any resolution to the ones found lying around during the summer break at Mar-a-Lago. Having named DDT’s choice as “special master,” Judge Aileen Cannon denied the DOJ request to pursue an investigation into classified documents while the master looks through the 11,000 records taken with a search warrant. His deadline is November 30, but no earlier deadline was set for the classified documents.

The DOJ asked an appeals court, comprised of six DDT-apppointed judges out of 11, to permit criminal investigators to examine the seized classified materials while the master works on the other records. Its filing wants those “causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public.” It argues that classified documents are by definition the property of the government, not a former president or a private club and not subject to personal attorney-client privilege. DDT has not cited no legal authority to executive privilege keeping the executive branch, to which the DOJ belongs, from reviewing its own records. Cannon was skeptical that these highly classified documents could cause any harm to national security and indicated a lack of “unquestioning trust in the determinations of the Department of Justice.”

DDT has until Tuesday to respond to the DOJ’s filing. He may have a decent lawyer this time. Using private donations to his PAC Save America, DDT paid Chris Klise $3 million up front. DDT also used mob-like innuendo for violence when he told far-right conservative Hugh Hewett in an interview that people would not “stand for it” if he were indicted.  

DDT constantly lies about the documents he stole and stored at Mar-a-Lago, the reason that a search warrant was needed after a DDT lawyer signed an official document lying about all documents being submitted to the DOJ by June 2022. This lie followed DDT’s lie to the National Archives that none of the documents was sensitive or classified. Instead, Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the archives that DDT had only 12 boxes of “news clippings.” Since Meadows’ claim, officials have recovered 42 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago, including top-secret U.S. operations and information about a foreign government’s nuclear-defense readiness. Some of the documents had been torn up.

Far right states use parental rights as an excuse to strip bookshelves of books that don’t support heterosexual white supremacism and eliminate all non-white supremacism from the curriculum, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has removed the rights of parents who support their trans children. With the help of his AG Ken Paxton, who is scheduled to be deposed for his fraud indictment soon after the November election, Abbott has orchestrated a regulation that identifies any medical care for trans youth as child abuse. Texas has no legal restrictions against trans care.  

Because of Abbott’s and Paxton’s regulation, a 13-year-old trans boy was taken from his class at school and interrogated for an hour about intimate personal details without any parents present. Before he received puberty blockers, he had suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty attending classes. The questioning caused him to have a “meltdown,” according to his mother, and he has started missing school and has anxiety attacks because he no longer sees school as a safe place. State child services is investigating the mother for physical child abuse, calling the boy’s testosterone treatment “illegal.” The boy’s treatment is under the guidance of a pediatrician, endocrinologist, and two therapists. Medical experts widely agree that gender-affirming care is medically necessary, and puberty delay can be reversed.

A state court already ruled against Abbott in the case of one family, but he continued to persecute other families for months. An injunction from a state judge last Friday shielded a group of families because such investigations could cause “probable, imminent and irreparable injury” to the families, including “gross invasions of privacy in the home and school, and the resulting trauma felt” by the family, as well as an increased risk of depression and suicide. The state made an immediate appeal to overrule the judge, and the mother of an 18-year-old trans boy is afraid she’ll lose her job with a child abuse charge.

Montana officials plan to defy a judge’s order to permit trans person’s gender changes on birth certificates, and Virginia now requires transgender students to use school programs and facilities according to sex assigned at birth.  

Abbott sent two more busloads of migrants to the home of VP Kamala Harris, and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis is trying to cover his use of Florida money to fly Venezuelan and Colombian migrants out of San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard. He claims that all the migrants planned to go to Florida. He also said they knew their destination, but they thought they would be going to cities, close to public transportation, instead of to an island of 20,000 people. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre compared DeSantis’ actions to those of other traffickers:

“These are the kinds of tactics we see from smugglers in places like Mexico and Guatemala. And for what, a photo op? Because these governors care about creating political theater.”

The GOP has bragged that Hispanics are leaving the Democratic party, but DeSantis may have reversed that trend. The Cuban community, identifying with Venezuelans fleeing communism, compared the move to that of deceased Cuban dictator who relocated Cubans in the early 1960s.

On Constitution Day, U.S. knowledge of basic facts about government declined for the first time in six years:

  • Only 47 percent could name all three branches of government, down from 56 percent last year and the first decline since 2016.
  • One-fourth (25 percent) could not name one single branch of the government.
  • 26 percent could not name any First Amendment freedoms. 
  • Only 24 percent could name freedom of religion, down from 56 percent last year.
  • Only 20 percent could name freedom of the press, down from 50 percent last year.
  • 63 percent cited freedom of speech, down from 74 percent last year; right to assembly 16 percent, down from 30 percent; and right to petition 6 percent, down from 20 percent.
  • 9 percent, tripled from 3 percent last year, put the right to bear arms in the First Amendment instead of the Second Amendment, but 82 percent know the Supreme Court upheld the right to own guns.
  • 78 percent know that the Bill of Rights protects people from illegal searches and seizures.
  • Only 55 percent know that a 5-4 ruling in the Supreme Court makes the decision law, down from 61 percent last year.
  • 76 percent the federal government cannot establish an official religion, and 88 percent know atheists have the same rights as other citizens.

Now if only the Supreme Court would learn these rights.

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