Voices: Who should you blame if Roe gets overturned: Susan Collins, Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Mitch McConnell?

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Congress Intensifying Politics (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Congress Intensifying Politics (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The Supreme Court appears to be making plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, based on reporting in Politico, and scores of infuriated people are looking for someone to blame.

The most logical culprits are the justices themselves, and the decades of right-wing activism that elevated them to these positions for this very purpose. But it is a more interesting take to blame those who claim to support the right to abortion but have failed to protect that right. Susan Collins, for voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. The late justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, for failing to retire during Barack Obama’s presidency. Susan Sarandon and her cohort of leftist activists, for failing to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Congressional Democrats at large, for failing to do anything at all. President Joe Biden, for failing to follow through on his campaign pledge to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

Truthfully, each of these bodies probably does bear some of the responsibility – but I have to wonder at the actual purpose of pointing the finger at those who have acted in good faith rather than those who have so clearly operated in bad. Justices Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Gorsuch lied and obfuscated about their position on Roe v. Wade in their confirmation hearings. Mitch McConnell schemed and manipulated the Senate in order to block Merrick Garland’s confirmation and shove through Amy Coney Barrett’s with flagrant disregard for rules, norms, and public opinion. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have stymied their fellow Democrats’ every effort to abolish the filibuster and pass legislation while House Democrats passed a bill to codify Roe v. Wade into law in September, the day after the Supreme Court failed to block Texas’s abortion ban in violation of the ruling.

Conservatives have already found liberals to blame for the document leak while Democrats turn on each other (and Susan Collins). A lot seem more concerned with the idea that somebody might allow the public to see the inner workings of the Supreme Court than the idea that American women’s rights to bodily autonomy could be swept away with one ruling made by nine individuals (indeed, most likely fewer than nine if and when it comes down to a vote.)

It’s right for the public to hold elected Democrats accountable and demand action. There’s little point in expecting action from Republicans, after all. But rather than blaming a dead woman for McConnell’s actions, why not blame McConnell himself and the Senators he leads? Donald Trump wasn’t elected because of one Hollywood socialist’s tweets, and two obstructionist Senators are not representative of the rest of Congressional Democrats.

The fact is that overturning Roe v. Wade is deeply unpopular across the country. A CNN poll from January of this year found that 69 percent of the country are opposed to overturning the landmark ruling, and in fact CNN’s polling has never shown public support for overturning Roe v. Wade higher than 36 percent since they began polling on the issue in 1989. If government is supposed to reflect the will of its people, shouldn’t the public be focusing its anger on those who are acting in opposition to the will of the people?

Democratic infighting is a trope of political punditry, as the party often fails to get its ideologically diverse members to align. But even on an issue where there is hardly any ideological diversity, even nationwide — like the legal right to an abortion — the political left wing can’t seem to stop squabbling amongst themselves. Except it’s not just the elected representatives; it’s the commentariat.

People want to know why Democrats keep asking them to simply vote, when voting hasn’t stopped Republicans from stripping away their rights. The answer is because without Democrats, Republicans gain more ground, and more power to strip away even more rights. The answer isn’t to stop voting for Democrats. The answer is to stop voting for Republicans. In a midterm election year, when Democrats’ razor-thin Senate majority is on the brink of slipping away, there should be no question that it is the Republican party who is betraying the will of their constituents.

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