Happy 4th – Pressure, Privilege and Pronouns

Every morning that I wake up and they have not repealed the 19th Amendment, I am convinced that we have a chance to turn this thing around. 

Things are going to be alright. But only if we make them right. 

Celebrating Independence Day is a challenge; more so this year than usual. The document written by Jefferson and signed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 has always been a shape-shifter. Language creates reality, but the radical concept of equality is no less radical today than it was then. 

The rulings from the United States Supreme Court in these last weeks have been total lunacy. But I knew from the Dobbs decision that taking away a Constitutional right was only the beginning. 

What makes these men behave as they do? I can only imagine that it’s an absence of humanity. They feel as if they are -somehow – above and beyond the rest of us. That must be very lonely, and alienating, and yes, dehumanizing. Not unlike the madness of George the III, or the arrogance of Napoleon. People who think their exclusive vision is the only correct one are historically disappointed.

And defeated.

There is often a large gap between the people who make laws and the people who have to live with those laws. The idea of America was to make that space smaller, and more bridgeable. We have made great progress, and can continue to do so, but while so many people are so enthused about burning bridges (and books) it will be rough going. 

I often come back to Langston Hughes, who wrote – 

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

That’s not even the entire poem (Please go ahead, look it up and read it.) To my eye, it’s also telling that even Hughes never strays from the assumptive gender (he/him/his.) There’s 51% of the population that are oppressed and dispossessed at a level so constant, most of us just take it for granted. And that’ s without even digging into the consequences of the Dobbs decision. 

It’s also noticeable that in the SCOTUS decision on presidential immunity, Roberts stays with that same pronoun; the president is ‘he’ throughout the document. 

As the great Leslie Knope said, “The right to vote is fundamental in any democracy.” As long as they don’t overturn the 19th Amendment, I think we can make things right again. 

Judith Martin-Straw



The Actors' Gang