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The fragility of democracy

“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.

Then, they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then, they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.



Then, they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

— Pastor Martin Niemöller, Germany, about 1936. The Nazis put him in jail.




The United States Supreme Court is now on a path to rescind many of the rights that people have battled for decades to obtain. In flawed, self-serving reasoning, the court plans to overrule Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a right. Justice Samuel Alito claims there is no right to abortion because it was not in the Constitution. Yet the Ninth Amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

There are many dangers from the court striking down Roe’s decision and precedent. Women’s vote, citizenship for African and Native Americans. Religious freedom when white Christian Protestant worship becomes the norm. And with that, freedom of expression when the rulers eliminate dissenting voices.

We take “democracy” for granted. We should know that democracy is not self-sustaining. Many democracies were short-lived. We face many challenges: climate change, rogue rulers like Vladimir Putin, price gouging from too-powerful corporations, critical supply chains, strategic disinformation and a military-industrial complex that is out of control.

I thought we should ask this question: What have each of us, as individuals, done to preserve our democracy? What has been given can just as easily be taken away.

Patrick Hunter

Carbondale


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