Remember back when the so-called "Tea Party" was manufactured, and a common rallying cry from it's "members" was "We want to take our country back"? And remember how many of us asked "take our country back to what, exactly?"
Yeah, well I think we're getting the answer to our questions right now.
It's bad enough that in November of 2008, the Republican Party made the decision to ignore the voters by blocking anything and everything that the President and Democrats tried to do, while repeating ad nauseum that they were doing so because "It was what Americans wanted." Never mind every other trick they've pulled out of their hats the last five years. Rather, let's just look at the most recent examples.
In the space of just a few weeks, the U. S. Supreme Court, which "formally" ended its history as an apolitical body when they ignored our votes and forced George W. Bush on us in 2000, has now become another wing of the Tea Party, thanks to their wing nut majority of justices, and took it upon themselves to butcher the Voting Rights Act. Worse, they did so while one member said that allowing black people to vote was a "racial entitlement" and another justified the ruling by saying racism no longer exists in this country, hence, no need for the now "quaint" Voting Rights Act. One would assume no one could actually pull that argument off when racism personified is but a chair or two away sitting on that same Court. But no, John Roberts is an ace at hypocrisy: Racism no longer exists because we have a black President, and because racism no longer exists, Republicans can now feel free to move about the country and prevent those "entitled ones" from voting.
This is what now constitutes logic in the highest court in the land.
Then of course, the abortion police in the states proceeded to pass more egregious abortion bills in the space of a couple weeks, adding to record numbers of legislation since the 2010 mid-terms, when gerrymandering Republicans took the House promising jobs, jobs, jobs.
That went well.
We've seen a Texas Democrat illustrate what an actual filibuster looks like when the GOP sought to force a bill through there. We saw elderly women protesters dragged away by police, and tampons, yes, tampons, confiscated from protesters out of fear they would be used as a weapon. In Texas. Where guns are not only carried and welcomed everywhere, but are also a fashion accessory. We saw lawmakers say it was OK to ban abortions, one reason being they would no longer be necessary because rape kits take care of all the pesky results and "particulars" down there afterwards. We heard the reasoning that eliminating women's health clinics in the name of abortion actually benefits a woman's health overall, in that there's no access to that health care..... and we've seen abortion provisions added to motorcycle safety bills, or any other legislation they could find.
The right would have you believe that a politician guarding and regulating one's uterus is in no way an intrusion by "big government" which they loathe. Nor is having to consult your local politician rather than your doctor to make health care decisions for yourself. And while guns should be available to all, (owning several, or a complete arsenal is even better!) a tampon becomes a weapon should it enter any venue where women dare to speak their minds about not wanting to wear a state-sanctioned chastity belt.
Then we come to the trial of a wannabe cop and self-proclaimed neighborhood watch superhero with a gun who "protected the neighborhood" by gunning down the son of a resident's girlfriend, and hence, one of the people he was supposed to be protecting. We are now actually told by those on the right that this is acceptable, because the victim was black.
When President Obama was elected, the white right proclaimed that we were now even. Racism was erased because "those people" scored themselves a President. And then they set about proving otherwise. There were many who felt free to let loose, and just went ahead and let their racist flags fly. Now, with the Trayvon Martin killing, eventual arrest of George Zimmerman, and the subsequent verdict of not innocent guilty, it's as if those same people and more are not only letting their racist flags fly, but they're saying "We're going to need a bigger, taller flagpole, and a flag large enough to see from space."
A teenager was gunned down because he was in a place he had every right to be, doing nothing more than walking home. He was black, wearing a hoodie, and walking on a dark night in the rain, in an area that had seen an uptick of burglaries. Enter the armed Neighborhood Watch vigilante who disobeyed the rules because he alone came to the conclusion that with the elements above combined, this child was black, and therefore must have been the responsible party. Trayvon Martin was targeted as the "a**hole" that wouldn't get away. So said George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was found "not innocent guilty" by a jury of his peers, because it's Florida. And peers they were. (Don't just take my word for it. Go listen to the interview of one of them on CNN, or read her comments here.) This juror was not only his "peer" but sounds like the President of the George Zimmerman fan club. She calls Zimmerman George, but refers to Trayvon Martin as the "boy". To hear her speak is to assume that she believes the real victim in all this was poor George, who has learned his lesson. George, she says, indeed profiled Martin, but race had nothing to do with it. George went too far, but she would totally be comfortable having him on her Neighborhood Watch as long as he didn't go too far again. George, who she feels was "egged on" by the 911 operator who told him to stay in his car.
How she used this profound wisdom to find Zimmerman not guilty is beyond my comprehension.
Basically, Zimmerman's peers found that, though there was that whole inconvenience of the "killed Trayvon Martin" part, Martin was black, so one cancels the other out. Even Steven.
As if that weren't bad enough, it gets worse. It isn't only the jury, but those on the right who have made him their new best friend. They have seen him get away with killing an unarmed black teenager and that makes him a hero! Why, FOX made him one long ago with an exclusive interview where he told Sean Hannity that killing Martin was "all part of God's plan." (The jury must bust believe that too, as it was in evidence at trial.) Right wing radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh said basically, due to so many political wins by Democrats he's seen via hallucination, finally, FINALLY the right has a "win" in their corner for once. You read that right: A dead black child, not to mention a future ""racially entitled voter, goes into the record books as a win for him and his Republican-Tea-Party-Conservative-Bircher pals. Not to be outdone, professional troll Ann Coulter summed up that "win" by Tweeting "Hallelujah!" Saturday when the verdict was announced. (Book soon to be published on the topic no doubt.) Not to be left out, even left leaning journalist Jonathan Alter actually invoked the now common "both sides analogy" while explaining his views to Joy Reid on MSNBC this afternoon. (Joy didn't let that one go, however, and I can't be the only one who took satisfaction in watching her do so.) This is of course, a false equivalence, as always. There is no "both sides" to this one. There are none on the left who celebrate anything as egregious as the circumstances surrounding the death of a child. None.
In the farce that the right has turned America into, Zimmerman emerges the hero, he'll probably have no shortages of offers for book deals and movie rights, perhaps a position alongside that other right wing celebrity nut-bag and professional victim Sarah Palin over at FOX. Count me as unsurprised if there isn't some sort of reality TV deal coming down the road. Something in a how-to self defense, martial arts, vigilante justice kind of thing like "George Zimmerman Stands His Ground."
Then there are the jurors, the one above, who within just days of the verdict, sought out and signed on with a literary agent for a possible book deal. Sadly for her, in under 24 hours, she announced this, went on national television and did enough damage by opening her mouth that outrage ensued, and through Twitter activism, the agent dropped the juror as a client. One could take that to say there is still just a smidgen of justice left in the world. Conventional wisdom and pundits tell us we mustn't criticize the jury. They also say we must accept the verdict.
Really? I don't think so. Not this time.
As George Zimmerman's attorneys gloated and bragged on camera after the verdict, so too did Florida's Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, for reasons that still boggle my mind. Her loss was a win for the right, as well as for right wing Florida politicians, like Rick Scott who appointed her.
How did we get here?
Florida is the state where common sense, logic, and consequences for immoral actions and ethics go to die. For a majority of bad decisions, outcomes, and head-scratching stories that define the saying "truth is stranger than fiction" chances are that all roads will lead back to Florida. The 2000 election, electing a governor who was previously best known for running a company that scored the biggest Medicare fraud fine in history, and now has a state sanctioned, "shoot first, ask questions and fill in the blanks later" law that allowed George Zimmerman to profile, pursue and admittedly kill a black child, and walk away not only a free man, but one who may well live out his days profiting from it.
Only in Florida can you profile and stalk a child, and then claim you shot him in self defense when he did what children are told to do by their parents when strangers are coming after them: Get away. Run. Because this child was black, Zimmerman's defense said it was justified. Said their client was the victim, not Trayvon Martin. The defense turned the tables and when it was over, the outcome was as if Martin was tried and found guilty, and Zimmerman was the wrongful victim. The deceased Martin was demonized, the responsible party walked away, and he, his defense team, and many on the right from reporters, radio race baiters and bloggers, to the very Republican politicians who made this legal outcome possible, are now dancing on this child's grave.
This law that allows you to get away with murder as long as you kill the only witness was written by ALEC, and handed down to the good old boys in Tallahassee who were only to eager to enact it. Thank Jeb Bush who was governor at the time. Thank its proud sponsor Dennis Baxley, a funeral home owner who also conveniently walks hand in hand with the NRA. Thank Republicans who hold the majority in the legislature who allow it to remain law. Thank Rick Scott, who appointed the Special Prosecutor who acted as though she were accepting an award when she lost her case, also the one who sent a black woman to jail for firing a warning shot in the air under the same Stand Your Ground law. Thank Scott a second time for reluctantly, under pressure, finally calling for a task force to "investigate" the SYG law, which he filled with Baxley, and an entire group of gun friendly, NRA owned lawmakers. What did they find after their so-called investigation? Surprise! The law is just dandy the way it is!
Case closed. Move along.
Even after the verdict, Baxley stood by his SYG baby like a proud father. Why wouldn't he? Because the law allows just exactly what it was intended to. Having made guns more readily available than birth control, and easier to get than it is to vote in Florida, they wrote a law that protects someone like Zimmerman. Protects the sacred right of the gun owner. After all, if you put him in prison, he can't buy more guns, which means less campaign checks from the gun companies. That's the way they roll in Tallahassee. If a child or any other innocent victim happens to find themselves on the wrong end of a gun, so be it. Collateral damage.
This is what we've come to. This is what the right wants to "take the country back to." This is their idea of freedom and liberty. Guns for all, votes for whites only, and exerting power and control over minorities, women, taking away choice, protecting those in the womb, only to be cast aside as slackers and takers after they're born, forced to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." Bootstraps they've legislated out of reach.
My heart aches for the loss of Trayvon Martin. It aches for his family. While we can't bring him back, we can change. We have to change. This is insanity. If there are those who seek to prevent a change for the better, they need to get out of the way.
We are better than this. Please tell me we are better than this.