With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, coming on the heels of the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, it is clear that the America as we have known it for the past 70 years, a time in which the United States attained and maintained its supremacy in the world and achieved unprecedented prosperity for its people, could be coming to an end. That may sound dramatic, but we don’t think it is overstating the case.
In our view, the principal reason why America has prospered since the end of WWII, despite our many missteps (Vietnam, Watergate, and Iraq being the top three) is because we have expanded the rights of all of our citizens and we have welcomed people from all over the world to partake of, and contribute to, our wealth and our democratic ideals.
As regards the latter point, we would note that the majority of the Nobel prizes awarded to Americans in recent years have been won by persons who were immigrants. And let’s not forget that Steve Jobs’s father came from Syria and the parents of one of the founders of Google emigrated from Russia. They came to this country, as immigrants always have and still do, to create a better life for themselves and their families and to contribute to their new country.
However, there should be no doubt that the newly-constituted Supreme Court not merely will take us back to the pre-1930s, but rather will be in the vanguard of a new movement.
The court in recent years already has eviscerated the Voting Rights Act and (via the Citizens United case) has entrenched the ability of the ultra-rich to throw unlimited amounts of cash into our electoral system.
Now, with the ascension of two more conservatives, the Supreme Court may turn back the clock on much of what most Americans have taken for granted for the past three generations in the realms of the rights of women, persons of color, and persons of different sexual orientations.
Hopefully, the Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives in the fall — and we say that not so much because we love Democrats, but because we need at least one house of Congress to act as a check on the White House — but that will not change the direction of the Supreme Court.
So what does that mean for us in Massachusetts and the other states on the coasts (with a few pockets in between)?
In concrete terms, let us be welcoming to all people; let us be the safe harbors for a woman’s right to choose (when the Supreme Court eviscerates Roe v. Wade, as it surely will); let us increase the minimum wage and be supportive of unions; let us prepare for the effects of climate change; let us enforce strict gun laws (to keep crime and mass shootings down); and let us make our states’ educational systems world-class.
We need to be everything they are not
Think of it this way: Let’s build our state’s economy to take advantage of what they are giving up.
This will require two things: Out-of-the-box thinking by our elected leaders and an unprecedented partnership between the state and the business community, which must be convinced to partake of a partnership with the state in order to pursue our common goals.
In short, we must take our future into our own hands as we never before have imagined.
It will require lot of hard work and sacrifice — but given what is happening at the national level, we have no choice.