So What Are You Going to Do About It?

On action and inaction in a post-Roe world

So What Are You Going to Do About It?
(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Literally, I mean. What, specifically, are you planning to do – what actions will you take, today or in the future – now that it is clear beyond all doubt that an autocratic rule is being imposed upon the people of this country and that the pieces of a fascist state are snapping into place? Before you accuse me of being paranoid, I would remind you that it’s the people who have been the most paranoid since 2016 who have been right. Consistently. And here we are. A radical Supreme Court – five of whose members were installed by Presidents who lost the popular vote, three of whom lied to get their jobs, two of whom have been credibly accused of sexual assault or impropriety, and one of whom is married to an active insurrectionist – has just stripped the women of this country of control over their own bodies. A justice has signaled in his concurring opinion that gay marriage and birth control, among other settled matters, will soon be on the chopping block. Anti-abortion partisans will say that the matter has simply been returned to the states, and I would respond by saying that only a fool would think a federal ban isn’t in the cards should the Republicans regain the majority in November. (Also: Please explain to me the hypocrisy of a court which decrees that states have the right to make their own laws concerning reproductive rights but not the right to restrict guns in any meaningful manner.)

So what are you going to do about it? I’m not asking you to tell me or anyone reading this how you plan to protest or to whom you intend to donate – although the comments are open to all. I’m simply advising you to start articulating for yourself and maybe your loved ones what steps you will reasonably (or maybe even unreasonably) take in the current situation and, more crucially, what you might be prepared to do in the (perhaps likely) event of the worst-case scenario: The Republicans retaking control of the legislative wing in November, impeaching Joe Biden on some Hunter-related nonsense, and ending the American experiment as we have known it for the last 245 years. Imagine that America. Imagine living in it. Now imagine what you would do, what actions you would take or not take. Would you keep your head down, watch a lot of binge TV, post more dog pictures on Facebook? (I’m basically glaring at myself in the mirror here.) Would you give money to the right causes or go to a protest or two? Would you be willing to break laws involving assembly or assistance, either ones that currently exist or may be put into place in the future? Where’s your personal line? How far out of your comfort zone would you be willing to go, especially if it wasn’t your personal autonomy at risk – at least not today, or tomorrow? What would you do to resist – or not resist – if or when the country goes the full Orwell? Because I guarantee you that that is the country Samuel Alito, the NRA, Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, and Ron DeSantis want.

I know, I know, the January 6 hearings are promising. But listen, forget about Trump. He’s toast, at least while a Democrat’s still president and overseeing the Department of Justice. He has already served Mitch McConnell’s purpose as a useful idiot to pack the court, and he exists now solely to be punished and to entertain the rubes and the crazies. The only way is forward. The front lines are many. The November midterms alone are poised to be a nightmare of gerrymandered returns, voter disenfranchisement, and high fuckery on the part of partisan election officials in red states. (If you really want something to do, consider volunteering as a poll watcher in your state or elsewhere: Here’s a good place to get information.)

Our Democratic leaders, with a few exceptions, are not rising to the moment. Either they’re ancient and think the old rules of engagement still apply, or they believe singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol is an appropriate response to the destruction of our civil liberties. Get mad at them. Get very mad. Demand a plan; ask for specifics or they can forget about a $6 donation. Kyrsten Sinema tweeted that the Court’s decision to overturn Roe was just terrible; she and Joe Manchin alone have the power to abolish the filibuster and enact meaningful changes. Let her know what you think about that. Loudly.

Make the case to expand the Supreme Court. Actively push back against right-wing distortions on Facebook, Twitter, and in the real world; the Murdoch press was going wild Friday night with predictions of left-wing riots while social media teemed with fake “progressives” calling for violence. Educate your neighbors and family members who fall for the lies. The Right is brilliant at sowing disinformation. Get better at counteracting it.

On the reproductive rights front, donate and become active both locally and via targeted efforts in other states. Give to abortion funds that help pregnant women pay for procedures and to practical support organizations that help with travel and childcare. Share accurate information. There are lots of good ideas at this regularly updated Google Document:

If you want a little fire in your belly, I heartily suggest you watch “The Janes” (2022), a fantastic documentary about the underground network of women who helped provide abortions in the Chicago area in the days before Roe v. Wade. It’s currently available on HBO Max. Consider if you might have the nerve they did. Consider how far you would be willing to go for your beliefs, up to and including jail.

Don’t be naïve. Don’t say it can’t happen here. It is happening here. Four years ago, I was having conversations with people who thought Brett Kavanaugh would never, ever vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Yesterday I spoke with someone who was sure that even if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, existing gay marriages would never be declared illegal and nullified. They would if the people who want it so had the power. And they desperately want the power.

Who’s going to stop them? You and me. No one else. So start playing that worst-case scenario mind game. If it all goes to hell, if all of our rights of privacy, of assembly, of redress get rolled back and the country is ruled by an evangelical theocratic minority that will do anything to remain in charge, what would you do in response? Specifically. Don’t tell me. Tell yourself.

Be honest. But also dare to be brave.

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