To Defend Democracy, We Need Mass Action

We can’t sit on our hands waiting for Joe Biden to protect abortion and the climate. Movements for the New Deal and civil rights showed us how to beat the Supreme Court and other reactionary, undemocratic institutions: mass action.

When democracy is under attack, what do we do? Despite holding the presidency, the House, and the Senate, leading Democrats’ answer seems to be: send fundraising emails.

Recent Supreme Court rulings against abortion rights, gun control, and environmental regulations are the latest in a right-wing assault on democracy. And they aren’t finished. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas is suggesting that the court could next go after the right to contraception, gay marriage, and even consensual gay sex.

Among liberals and leftists, faith seems low in the ability and willingness of the Democratic Party to protect democracy — whether that means “packing” the Supreme Court, breaking the Senate filibuster, or organizing any popular movement to defend abortion or the climate. A young woman spoke for many in a video from a protest last month when she said it was “outrageous” that Democrats are sending fundraising appeals which exploit the Supreme Court decision against Roe for donations: “My rights should not be a fundraising point for them. . . . If they’re going to keep campaigning on this point, they should actually do something about it.”

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