TRUE OPINION: The battle over abortion in the United States is the latest symbol of a failing state at war with itself, writes Kieran Butler.
I was staying at an upmarket backpackers in Sanur, Bali when Donald Trump was elected US President in 2016.
A few days prior to the election an American showed up. A US passport must surely come with these instructions: Let everyone know when you’ve arrived everywhere by being loud, brash and self-absorbed. If so, as he launched himself into the communal pool, this guy was nailing each and every one of these requirements.
James Comey had just notified Congress that the FBI were looking into newly discovered emails on Hillary Clinton’s private server, so I was curious to ask a genuine US citizen whether this would materially affect the result. I proffered my opinion that Trump could win it. American guy admitted that Clinton was not well liked, and most people he knew preferred Bernie Sanders. Notwithstanding, he confidently assured me that: “America is pretty fucked up, but it’s not that fucked up”.
A few days later, as results rolled in, American guy was slumped against a wall in the foetal position, rocking back and forth chanting “what is wrong with my f*cking country?” I mercilessly heckled him by chiming in with “what’s right with it? Make it a shorter list”.
The Divided States of America have been headed for civil war ever since. For the past few weeks a House Select Committee has been broadcasting hearings that record in minute detail the actions of Donald Trump and his armed militia, who physically intimidated members of Congress on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Trump seemed happy to watch Vice President, Mike Pence, be executed that day. Trump said that Pence “deserved it”. For once, I agree with him. For four years, Pence had been cheering on the insanity of Trump’s presidency like the Christian fundmentalist cuckold that he is. Watching Pence plead for his life as the noose slipped around his neck would have been priceless. Whenever a spineless turd hitches their wagon to a populist lunatic, they never envisage it backfiring on them.
The mob got within forty feet of Pence. One assumes that as they dragged him to their makeshift gallows, a good guy with a gun would have tried to stop them. However, recent school shootings in America indicate that many cops are prone to wait outside for a bit, just to see how bad it might get.
The execution of Pence should have been the catalyst for the civil war America is destined for. It would have been an assassination broadcast in real time, defining the Trump presidency in a way that a hypothetical description of it happening simply cannot.
Trump and his armed militia would have dug in to fight to the death. With the certification of the 2020 election result by Congress delayed indefinitely, America could act out the pantomime of being shocked that it had come to this.
“Women Unite”: More than 50% of White Women voters selected Donald Trump as US President in 2016 (Image: Supplied)
While footage of Pence being hanged played on a loop, and pundits apportioned the blame wherever it best suited them, Pence’s fellow Republicans would have failed to unanimously condemn his execution, laying bare exactly how bereft of morality the GOP had become.
Republicans like Majorie Taylor Greene would have declared: “I believe in America, and the inalienable right to life and liberty, but a Democratic presidency must be stopped at all costs. Mike Pence paid the ultimate price for his treasonous defiance of President Trump”.
Similarly, Pence’s execution might have been just enough for Democrats to realise that the battle for American democracy will be drenched in blood, instead of naively believing it is possible to heal the Divided States of America with hope and homilies. Besides, starting a civil war by lynching a Vice President is what the rest of world has come to expect from America.
The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the precedent handed down by Roe vs Wade is a result of Trump’s presidency; on account of the three judges he expressly appointed to do just that – no matter how much they all lied about it during their Senate confirmation hearings.
White women can take a lot of credit for this. 52% of them voted for Trump in 2016. This is despite the fact they benefited from the great strides that feminism made stemming from decisions like Roe vs Wade in the early 1970s.
If women, once liberated, make such flagrantly irresponsible decisions with their hard won rights, one wonders if there is any point in fighting to get them back. Especially when they say shit like this: “I never liked Hillary Clinton. I always felt like she was dishonest and opportunistic … Her main reason for wanting to be president was so that she could be the first woman president … I just didn’t like her.”
It is women in poorer and disadvantaged communities who benefit from things like access to abortion. Nonetheless, the 2016 election proved that with increased equality and opportunity comes the freedom to turn a blind eye to the blatant misogyny and racism of a bloke like Donald Trump, not vote for a woman because you don’t like her, and mistake new found privilege for believing the status quo comes with unfettered permanency.
It wasn’t that long ago that Amber Heard confidently told Johnny Depp she could fabricate whatever allegations she liked on the grounds nobody would believe a word he said, as he was an abuser. The relentless swinging of the pendulum means equilibrium eludes us all.
Amongst other inequities, America is now divided perilously between one side that wants more abortions and less guns, and the another that wants less abortions and more guns.
Pence’s escape from execution was a missed opportunity for America. The ensuing civil war may have delayed the overturning of Roe vs Wade, thus proving that Tim Rice’s Jesus sang it best: “To conquer death you only have to die”. Ironically, Christian fundamentalists like Pence attempted to have Jesus Christ Superstar banned.
I prefer Russell Crowe quoting Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator: “Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back”. I doubt Pence would have smiled at his own death, but Trump would have been laughing all the way to an American civil war.