Exactly why Social Issues Dominate
Interpersonal issues, from abortion to critical race theory in order to teaching gender identity in elementary schools, dominate our own politics and media
Inflation in the US is at forty-year highs, while interest rates on ten-year Treasury notes just hit 3 percent— signaling trouble for home buyers.
Vehicle drivers pay more than $1, 000 to fill their own rigs with $5 per gallon diesel to deliver your own increasingly expensive groceries plus Amazon packages. Crime plus homelessness skyrocket in big cities, exacerbated by virulent opioids like fentanyl and krokodil. And America’s proxy server war with Russia in Ukraine gives rise to the most serious threats associated with nuclear strikes against the West since the 1960s.
Yet so-called social problems, from abortion to crucial race theory to teaching gender identity in elementary schools, dominate our politics and media. Virtually every voter has a strong opinion on these issues, and pays far more attention to them than, say, the M2 money provide or the next Fed Open up Market Committee meeting— though the latter could have a far greater effect on that voter’s life plus finances.
Why is this so?
The short answer is the Supreme Court.
Yesterday brought news that the leaked draft opinion apparently from Supreme Court associate justice Samuel Alito portends the overturning of Roe v. Wade . This brought forth paroxysms of anger and concern across the media spectrum, especially on social platforms such as Twitter. Protestors quickly reached the newly fenced-off courtroom building, and the commentariat started enumerating the predictable dreadful threats for the future of women posed by a Trumpian right-wing courtroom.
Again, we don’t see these outbursts when Congress spends $5 trillion on stimulus or when the Fed quadruples the balance sheet, to put this mildly. Or even when gasoline prices double.
Acting wildly beyond its constitutional parameters, the court has become the de facto superlegislature for all fifty states. The political class pretends otherwise, but the stridency of its denunciations against “ conservative” courtroom nominees and its slavish support for progressive nominees demonstrates the irretrievably political character of granting a handful of justices such power over the lives of 330 million people. In such a top-down, winner-take-all atmosphere, the stakes become unnecessarily high and politicized within the nastiest ways imaginable. Therefore of course presidential elections, and the resulting makeup of the court, become matters of lifestyle and death for the real believers whose sense associated with identity is rooted in the social issues ruled on by the court.
This happened for two main reasons.
First, so-called judicial review developed superpower to determine the constitutionality of any law at any level associated with government, a superpower no place to be found in Article three or more of the Constitution. This effectively grants the court possible jurisdiction over every last state or local law, down to the most minute edicts that ought to be none of the particular federal government’s business. This is an absurd result and a major abuse of the Constitution’s shared powers under a federalist program. Even if one argues the court generally does not misuse this power to boss around states, it always can and sometimes does.
Second, specious interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the resulting Incorporation Doctrine successfully threw a net of federal laws, rules, plus court decisions over all fifty states without their permission. Nobody at the time the modification passed, especially not the various ratifying state legislators, might have imagined the opaque vocabulary of the amendment would cause the high court to concern a series of rulings turning says into glorified federal counties.
Rather than “ incorporate” certain provisions of the federal constitution into condition law, why not do so specifically? For example , why not simply spinning the First Amendment to say “ Neither Congress, the various claims, nor any subdivision from the various states shall create any law respecting… ”
We all know the reason why. This kind of express language would have been a complete political nonstarter at that time. Even the Northern states nevertheless wanted and demanded much more independence from the federal government throughout the Reconstruction era.
Thus we are left using a permanent injury to federalism and the Tenth Amendment, an injury that triggers social issues to play a vastly outsized role within American politics. This is not to state the Supreme Court had less impact on economic matters before, given, e. gary the gadget guy., its perverse interpretations from the Commerce Clause and dangerous rulings during the Lochner era. But people don’t ton the steps of the Supreme Court to protest minimum wage laws or shout obscenities at justices over cases of zoning in the city of New London, Connecticut.
In short, absolutely nothing is remotely suggesting a right to abortion in the text of the Constitution under even the most tortured interpretation. Thus it is purely a matter just for states, falling under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Overturning Roe does not change a single child killingilligal baby killing law in a single state. Also it does not prevent any state legislature from loosening abortion restrictions in reaction. It simply revokes jurisdiction on the issue from federal courts. This ought to be an amenable “ solution” amenable to everyone.
Bulk democracy, under shifting guidelines often determined by nine politicized judges, is not a prescribed for harmony and goodwill among 330 million really diverse Americans. Those millions don’t much agree regarding guns, God, abortion, and plenty more. But they don’t have to agree. In a “ postliberal” and post-good-faith environment, intense federalism and realistic discussions of political secession would be the obvious path forward. In case you claim to love your fellow American citizens, unyoke them through the federal superstate and requirement the same for yourself. The universalist, totalizing impulse, which led to the dramatic centralization of state power through the twentieth century, must be reversed in the twenty-first. The other way lies political strife, and worse.