Radical Reactionaries - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1932829

Radical Reactionaries

Words have meaning. Words have clout. When misused, words can defeat truth.

Take the word “conservative.” The dictionary describes this adjective as meaning someone who is “averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values.”

Most Republicans like to describe themselves as conservative, especially since that word has an aura of virtue around it, implying support for the cherished traditional values of our country. But, along with the concept of “my country, right or wrong,” by avoiding accountability, conservatism constitutes a virtually insurmountable obstacle to correcting past mistakes.

Have you checked the meaning of the word “reactionary” lately, with its political symbiosis to fascist and autocratic governments of the European 1920s and 1930s? Those dictators also claimed to preserve national values against an enemy from within.

The legal parallel to the adjective “conservative” is “stare decisis,” the U.S. Supreme Court doctrine and practice of honoring past decisions of earlier U.S. Supreme Courts, especially if these have become part of American lives, and leaving such decisions intact. Is that what the Roberts court — or the Trump court — has done, or envisions in the short-term future?

Less than a decade ago, the Roberts court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s, making it possible for the radicalized Republican Party to weaponize redistricting, thus effectively knocking minority voter rights back to the unfair 1950s and earlier racially biased times. And, just in case gerrymandering was insufficient, it also made it possible for right-wing local governments to throw out perfectly legitimate votes if they did not please that national political party, today’s Republican Party.

What else? After nearly 100 years of slow, painstaking progress to limit or eliminate the undemocratic role of money in elections, the Roberts court made the absurd decision in the Citizens United case that corporations were persons and had a right to express their political preferences in dollar donations and support, behind a curtain of secrecy.

What’s ahead for our country, now that the old Roberts court looks like a middle-of-the-road decider compared to the Gorsuch-Thomas-Alito, et al., court?

Well, it looks as if the hard-fought right of women to have jurisdiction over their own health and bodies is about to be tossed out with another weakening or total discard of the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, which has overwhelming support by the citizens of this country, male and female alike.

And so I ask you: Why do Democrats continue to refer to radical, reactionary, anti-progress Republicans, whether in the Congress or on the court, as “conservative”? Isn’t it time to label them as what they truly are? They’re reactionaries, looking to our flawed past for solutions to today’s problems.

Evelyn Konrad

Attorney at law

Southampton Village