Election Anxiety and the Supreme Court

The 2016 presidential race has been described as one of the most contentious, tawdry and angry presidential elections in history. So much so that, according to the the American Psychological Association, that 52% of American adults are coping with high levels of stress brought on by the election.  Therapists around the country say that clients are making appointments to address their fears, anger and anxieties about the election.

Whether Democrat or Republican, this election is making people feel less safe. All kinds of issues are being presented by — national security, terrorism, hacking threats, gun rights and sexual assault — are playing into the deepest fears and anxieties of the American people. 

I’ve avoided watching the debates, commentators and news reports of the accusations and claims of the candidates because I don’t want to get caught up in the negativity and toxicity of the energies tat are being broadcast throughout the country (and around the world).

In my younger days as an attorney I was a devout constitutional scholar, devouring the Bill of Rights and applauding the then continual expansion of those rights to various and diverse circumstances in which individual liberties were put at risk for one reason or another.  There was a dignity and eloquence about the manner in which the constitution was examined and applied. Political party affiliation was not a component of the lens through which such scholarly explorations were conducted. That has all changed.

For the over 20 years, the Supreme Court has been divided by conservative vs. liberal factions with large numbers of cases being decided by a 5-4 vote based on political ideology. Corporations exercise substantial influence on government activities and play a major role in shaping the beliefs and values in our society. More and more they seek to influence the decisions of the judiciary, both at the federal and state levels. They have already won the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which allowed corporations to make financial contributions to candidates for federal office, thus creating a huge imbalance in the ability to influence the outcome of federal elections. The platform of the conservative Republican agenda promotes conservative judiciary, one that will view the decision-making process through the prism of corporate favoritism. 

Most people have no idea how powerful the Supreme Court is in its ability to influence the pulse of our country’s social conduct and the course of our history. Decisions the Supreme Court makes today will exert an influence for generations beyond the term of the president who makes the appointment(s) of its members. It is extremely important that we maintain a liberal judiciary that will protect the health and safety of the public and that will not yield to the pressures of the corporate agenda that pollutes the environment, conceals from the citizenry the harmful effects of food additives, allows for runaway medical costs, and continues to export the means of the production of goods to foreign countries that in turn deprive Americans of job opportunities.

The Supreme Court is now divided 4-4 in political ideology, there being one vacancy on the Court. Because so many of us are conflicted about whom to vote for in this coming election, we must look beyond the candidates, beyond the term of office of the POTUS and to future generations of Americans who will be influenced, for better or for worse, by the results of this election. Only one of the presidential candidates will promote the Supreme Court’s liberal ideology that will protect our health and the health of our environment.