The Daily Commercial-Kathy Weaver: Stand up for democracy

Kathy Weaver Guest Columnist

Voters in Florida and all across our country must take a stand if our democracy is to survive. It’s not just the rights of women, but the rights of everyone to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that are at stake. Unfortunately, at the time those words were written, only white, property owning men were allowed full rights.

History is now being repeated, thanks to long-range planning by the Republican Party, returning to a time when rights of women, immigrants, Blacks, gays and minority religions were restricted. The GOP, joined by fundamentalist Christians, corporate America and the NRA, began this plan under Reagan with his cowboy image of male leadership, anti-union, antigovernment, pro-business and anti-women’s rights, and his racist depiction of people on welfare.

We’ve seen the demise of unions and the expansion of right-to-work (no union membership required) states. This has resulted in states with lower wages, higher poverty, lack of health care, higher infant mortality rates and a poorer education, which perfectly describes Florida. 

Reagan’s plan for tax cuts benefited the wealthy and corporations, resulting in the huge economic inequality our country is now experiencing. Anti-government underfunding of programs and political appointments gave us a dysfunctional, corrupt government. Judicial appointments from the conservative Libertarian Federalist Society based on their fundamentalist Christian beliefs, not upholding established laws or our Constitution, makes our justice system not blind but beholden to the Republican Party and conservative funding groups.

Lower-wage and middle class workers have a legitimate complaint — wages did not keep up with the cost of living, and many jobs were shipped overseas while higher education costs have left them with huge debts. But it’s not the fault of immigrants, women, communists or socialists. In order for the wealthy elite GOP to stay in power, they require an uneducated, servile working class supporting them with the belief that corporations will spread their wealth through growth (trickle-down economics); they will not. 

We’ve seen the American carnage brought by former President Trump with his support of antigovernment and hate groups — neo-Nazis, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Q-Anon, White Christian Nationalists — whom he lead in their attempted insurrection of our Capitol on Jan. 6. They still hope to overthrow our government through violence or as part of the voting base of the Republican Party. They’ve blanketed many Florida communities with their anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-immigration propaganda to spread their hateful message in hopes of terrorizing minorities and recruiting new members. 

The Federalist Society Supreme Court is attacking our individual freedoms; Justice John Roberts’ court ruling on Citizens United v. FEC gave U.S. corporations unlimited ability to fund political candidates’ campaigns but limited individual taxpayers. Restricting the people’s right to free and fair elections became “laws can be bought and sold.”

The ruling of Kennedy v. Bremerton School District allows Coach Joseph Kennedy to use a loudspeaker system for his “private prayer” on the school’s football field 50-yard line with parents in the stands and players attending. This is in violation of our First Amendment rights; public schools must remain free from government-enforced religion.

Justice Samuel Alito cited 17th century English jurist Matthew Hale, who believed men should have control over women, when overturning Roe v. Wade, giving states the right to control women by ending their right to choose an abortion. Under Roe, no one was forced to have an abortion. Under Dobbs v. Jackson, while the U.S. regularly ranks among the worst countries for maternal and infant health outcomes, Florida and other states can require forced childbirth while restricting birth control and limiting sex education in our schools. 

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency limited the ability of the EPA to regulate emissions of the power sector, restricting it from protecting our environment and health from carbon dioxide emissions.

The ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen struck down New York’s state law that restricted carrying guns outside of the home, limiting a state’s ability to regulate guns. Justice Clarence Thomas, while placing importance on historical context, left out these important words from the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia.” This is not the old west. Our country needs strong gun control laws, and our daily lives shouldn’t be restricted with threats of massacres by weapons of war. 

This brings us to those in our new Republican Party who are crude-speaking bullies who demean women while promoting total government control by one white, male, autocratic ruler, not our constitutional democracy of checks and balances. No matter your political affiliation, if you still believe in our Constitution, vote to save our democracy. 


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