John Roberts? We’ve Seen This Movie, And We Need a New Script

by Sunsara Taylor

Revolution #011, August 14, 2005, posted at

On July 19 at 9 p.m. Bush nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Now, the nomination “battle” over Roberts is likely to unfold like the scene in every horror movie. The scene where the kids decide to split up and one-by-one wander around in the dark until they are killed, even while the audience shouts “Don’t go there!”

First, the Roberts nomination is set up by speculation over who will fill the space, and in the process, the terms of what we are supposed to put up with gets pushed further and further to the right. Alberto Gonzales’s name is floated out. But the leading Christian fascists throw a fit, saying that this architect of torture is not fundamentalist enough, not reactionary enough. In the face of this, many progressive people even begin thinking that maybe we need to “be realistic” and lower our sights to hoping that the appointee would be Gonzales.

Then comes the announcement: John Roberts, the Harvard scholar without a paper trail. Behind the scenes, the Bush clique has already spent a full year assuring the Christian fascists that Roberts is “one of them” and the best choice to get (another) “one of them” on the Supreme Court. Roberts spent years working to end abortion, end affirmative action, and take away prisoners rights. He ruled on a key decision that allows the government to proceed with military trials at the notorious Guantánamo torture camp.

Just when people watching this movie are getting angry by what all this means for women, detainees, children, and Black people and itching for a big political throw-down, the Democrats sally forth delivering meek lines about how they will “stick to their guns” to defend some procedural aspect of bourgeois democracy like the filibuster, bi-partisanship, or the consultative role of the Senate. Once again, people get roped into a futile show of opposition around secondary matters, this time as meaningless as “asking tough questions.” In all, the purpose and effect of these characters is to waste people’s time, resources, and energies in a dead end.

So, this time, the twist on the story is that the Democrats claim they don’t yet know fully enough who the real John Roberts is since his record on the bench is so short and besides, it could be worse. Some groups like NARAL and NOW are being allowed to make some statements about what this nomination will mean for women. But Bush is already sure enough about who Roberts is to nominate him, and leading Christian fascists like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Paul Weyrich of Free Congress Foundation are sure enough about who he is to begin praising him and declaring a victory on the very evening of the press conference. And, among all of them, no one is entertaining the idea that Roberts won’t be confirmed.

Finally, in an often rather anti-climactic plot resolution, the Democrats fold, the Republifascists prevail, and society lurches hideously further to the right, leaving millions further demoralized and demobilized.

Barring some unforeseen event, is there anyone who can claim they don’t know how this film will end? That by the time the closing credits stream and the music comes on we won’t be a significant step closer to reproductive slavery for women, the legislation of traditional values (read: tradition’s chains), the stripping of rights of detainees, open racial discrimination, and harsh penal codes for children and others, all set more permanently in place through law?

And, however this particular nomination ends up going down, does anyone really believe that the powerful forces, including the president, who are driving towards a society dictated by a narrow and vengeful brand of Christianity and set on a empire-building “civilizing” mission around the world is going to be deterred or derailed without tremendous fight?

Since the ending has been given away, I won’t feel guilty about divulging the moral of this and every version of this movie. Except that.THE PEOPLE NEED A DIFFERENT MOVIE, WITH A DIFFERENT ENDING.

Yes, the nomination of this anti-woman champion of oppression and repression is an outrage, and should be opposed. But fundamentally, we need to break out of the whole logic and framework that is keeping us essentially paralyzed in the face of a highly dangerous situation.

As the Call for “The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2, 2005” says:

".there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

“To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush’s ”re-election“, we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: ”NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"

“November 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. November 2 will be the beginning—a giant first step in forcing Bush to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so—and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.”