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Where can we move if, God forbid, #45 wins another term as president?
It’s a question I’ve been grappling with for well over a year. Early on when I first started voicing this question, family members rolled their eyes and chuckled, thinking my comments were hyperbole. It took a lot of sit-downs for them to realize I was serious, and that I wanted them to be serious with me because I don’t feel safe here anymore. And if we end up with another four years of #45, I know we will all be much less safe.
(Since our daughter is a French major in college, the thought of a possible move to Europe didn’t make her too sad).
We don’t want to move. The rest of our family most likely would stay put. And while the idea of moving to another country can be an exotic fantasy, usually such thoughts are just that … a fantasy. But we’re not the only Americans who have plans to move somewhere that feels more safe than our increasingly fascist and intolerant America. In light of what history has taught us about fascists, I don’t believe it’s crazy to have a safety plan.
My husband and I both have laid awake at night wondering, “Will the polls be right? Can Joe Biden create enough of a ‘blue wall’ to prevent a realistic challenge from #45? Can the Democrats really take back the Senate?”
If Joe can turn the tide, I thought that would be enough for me. I thought if Biden wins, I could come out of my foxhole. I could carry on with plans for the house, plans for our lives, even if that now has to be done through the prism of our COVID-riddled world. I promised my husband if Joe could do what Hillary Clinton couldn’t (or, more accurately, what Russian hacking and the Electoral College stole), I’d stop talking about finding another country to live in and just turn my fantasy into a nice long vacation.
Then Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and a right wing zealot was confirmed to her Supreme Court seat. The great dissenter was replaced by a handmaid with a lifetime appointment. The champion of women’s rights had her seat given to a woman who belongs to what amounts to a cult that believes women should let husbands make all the decisions (now, Supreme Court decisions?). Now, I fear that with her addition to the court, she and her fellow conservtives have carte blanche to tear apart every social justice case to create a country that is a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984.
They’ve been put on the court for one purpose — to change America. To bring back right-wing thinking and take us back to the 1950s. To do away with reproductive rights and put women back into the Donna Reed mold. To put white men back in charge. To deny gay and transgender Americans their hard won rights. To eliminate Roe v. Wade and declare there is no constitutionally protected right to privacy for women’s health decisions.
One of my fears isn’t just about losing abortion rights. We need to worry for the first time in 55 years about access to birth control.
That’s right. Prescription birth control. When asked at her confirmation hearing, Barrett refused to agree that there is a constitutionally protected right for married couples to have access to birth control — and that’s extreme thinking we haven’t even heard from the super-conservatives who were on the Court before her. She refused to say if the 1965 case of Griswold v Connecticut was correctly decided. I shudder to think what she’d say about Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that held that laws banning interracial marriages are unconstitutional.
It’s not a leap of imagination to say that many privacy rights we’ve come to expect in America will be stripped away through the current Supreme Court within a couple of years, and I’m not prepared to live the rest of my life in fear of when the uber-conservatives and the Supreme Court they’ve created in their own image decide there are no protections for people who aren’t like “them.”
Yes, voting can help change this but not for decades. More lasting change needs to start in the statehouses that draw the electoral districts. We also need the statehouses to be less controlled by the GOP because with the current Supreme Court, that’s the only way we can try to change laws that will protect any privacy rights the high court determines aren’t protected by the Constitution.
Our parents and grandparents lived in an America where that was the case; with a newly formed 6 to 3 conservative Supreme Court, it’s not a stretch to worry about going back to that time.
We’re fortunate. My family and I have a way out to live in another country if and when the COVID pandemic will allow us to do so safely. Most people don’t have the option we do, because trying to live permanently in another country isn’t the easiest thing to do.
Maybe that makes me a bad person for not wanting to stay and fight the good fight. Many of my friends have said we all have to fight on through 2024 and beyond. But after struggling through the last four years, I have no fight left in me.
I take no joy in saying I will now be on the first safe plane out of the U.S. to rebuild my life and my home in a country that won’t roll back the work of the last 50 years that protected rights of people who weren’t white straight men. But it is what I will do.