America Needs a “Leave People Alone” Movement
The Supreme Court is on the verge of empowering the most extreme culture warriors in America. We need a “leave people alone” countermovement to stop them.
Justice Samuel Alito has apparently decided for a majority of the Supreme Court that 50 years of settled law on legal abortion should now be returned to the states for “democratic deliberation”. This means that states like Texas and Oklahoma will be free to enact laws criminalizing abortion in the most extreme manner. Texas law post-Roe would completely ban abortion and enforce up to life in prison and massive financial penalties on any doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the law, on top of the current $10,000 bounties the state offers to people who successfully rat out anyone who helps a woman procure an abortion after six weeks. Oklahoma’s new law banning abortion after six weeks doesn’t allow any exceptions if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Gone are the days of the decent anti-abortion types who took to heart the religious and moral wisdom of not punishing women facing unwanted pregnancies by running the crisis pregnancy centers, counseling women, and offering alternative means for mostly young and poor women to access adoption options or other family care provisions. In contrast, the punitive moral tyrants of the anti-abortion right in state legislatures today are about to get their lifelong wish of criminalizing abortion—with a lot more power granted to them by the Supreme Court.
In response, the blue state culture warriors who won’t stomach any restrictions on abortion whatsoever at any point will push to enact the most liberalized abortion regimes in the country. Both political parties in turn will face internal pressure to only support candidates who take the most extreme ideologically prescribed positions on abortion going forward. The American public, with a majority position of keeping abortion legal early in a pregnancy with more restrictions or prohibitions possible later in a pregnancy, will not be well represented in this debate.
The stage will be set for the ultimate culture war on abortion in the coming decade. Which ideological vision on abortion will be imposed on the entire nation through congressional legislation and Court backing: the ban all abortions in all cases one or the allow all abortions in all cases one? There will be no center ground.
Welcome to America in 2022. The culture wars are about to infect every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, this is not just about the issue of abortion which is the most intractable of the bunch. Culture war logic will now be inescapable in our politics. Alito in his draft opinion, and now the right in in its various media formats, goes to great lengths to say that the constitutional logic in overturning Roe v. Wade will only apply to the issue of abortion. Good luck with that. If this ruling comes down as written, every extremist state in the country, on either side, will seek Court redress to allow whatever imposition it wants on people’s rights using Alito-style logic that state sovereignty reigns supreme on controversial moral issues and that any right not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution is a “phony right”.
Self-determination and freedom to live how you want without having someone else’s moral views foisted on you by legislatures and the courts? That’s for the old liberal America. This is the post-liberal future.
America used to be a place of live and let live but it is no longer the bastion of freedom that has inspired people across the world for generations. Culture warriors are now poised to use state legislatures and the courts to force their views on others: e.g., what kids should or should not learn in school; how people should or should not think about gender, race, or sexuality; and what individuals should or should not do with their own bodies, minds, loved ones, and family decisions.
The only way to stop this coming wave of illiberal moralism is for good-hearted and sensible Americans on both sides of the aisle and in the middle to stand up a new “leave people alone” movement.
This is not the typical libertarian belief in no taxes or regulations plus legal weed.
Properly understood, it means leaving people alone to believe and do what they want with their lives provided they don’t interfere in other people’s ability to live their lives as they see fit. There will still be regulations of businesses, taxes, and basic social requirements to ensure that government, society, and the economy function properly. But a new “leave people alone” movement would oppose any effort by those on the ideological left and right to dictate to others how to think and how to live in their personal spheres.
“Leave people alone” as a concept is about protecting genuine rights to self-determination and freedom of thought and belief for all people. If a political party or leader doesn’t want to leave people alone, they won’t get our votes or support. Beyond this minimal action, a “leave people alone” movement will need to create a new intellectual and political infrastructure to strategically and legally fight the culture warriors seeking to create a post-liberal future.
It won’t be fun, of course, and we’d all rather do something else with our time. But if patriotic citizens want to preserve America as a true land of freedom and self-determination for everyone, then “leave people alone” Americans will need to stand up and defend this vision in the political arena.