Backsliding of Our Democracy: Time for Americans to Wake Up

When I first came to the U.S. nearly 20 years ago, I remember having a conversation with colleagues about Roe v. Wade. If I’m being honest, at the time I had no idea what they were referring to. Back in the UK, abortion had been legalized nearly a decade before Roe v. Wade—and quite frankly, people weren’t debating about the ruling anymore; abortion was indeed considered a right. Fast forward to today, numerous civil rights rulings, like Roe v. Wade, are resurfacing here in the U.S. How did we get back to this place?

Critical point in our democracy

Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the world has looked to the U.S. as a leader and example of a true democracy. Modeled after the once powerful republic of the Roman Empire, the U.S. government was established by the people and for the people—but have we lost our way? Today, a small number of individuals are making decisions for the many, completely neglecting the voices and concerns of the people. Their agendas are fueled by monetary gains and hypocritical religious beliefs, and they no longer represent the majority of the population.

Roe v. Wade is a clear example. A recent poll found that 6 out of 10 Americans support abortion rights, and 64% did not want to see the country’s highest court overturn the ruling. This backsliding of democracy is troubling at least, and I fear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization won’t be the end. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has already alluded to a trio of watershed civil rights rulings that could be challenged next, including:

  • Griswold v. Connecticut — which ruled banning the use of contraceptives in marital relationships violated the right to marital privacy
  • Lawrence v. Texas — which legalized same-sex sexual activity in every state and U.S. territory
  • Obergefell v. Hodges —which ruled same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional and that same-sex marriage is protected under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment

Additionally, this week the Supreme Court announced they are taking up the Moore v. Harper case. Moore v. Harper centers around congressional maps drawn by Republican lawmakers in North Carolina. The court will decide whether the North Carolina Supreme Court can strike down a redistricting map because of partisan gerrymandering and whether state legislatures can draw voting districts independent of the courts. Depending on the decision, this interpretation could make it easier for state legislators to suppress votes, draw unfair election districts and enable partisan interference in ballot counting. All this can have a tremendous impact on the 2024 presidential election.

Issues like voting rights, gay marriage, healthcare and gun control should be table stakes, yet we keep going back on our word and promises for the American people.

Political parties gone wrong

Politicians should be asking themselves, “How do we make government work for the people again?” Change doesn’t happen overnight, as we know. It took nearly 100 years for civil rights legislation after slavery ended. But we had a point in history where we were trying to make actual change, trying to create a better country than the Founding Fathers left. We’re slipping backwards because of the framework of our political system and people’s ability to only vote on issues on the ballot that affect their pockets.

Our two-party system (Democrats and Republicans) is an outdated ideology that no longer works. With this system in place, there are usually 2 extremes sitting on either side of the spectrum. There is no compromise, nothing in the middle. And the people all the way to the right and all the way to the left can’t seem to come together. For them, it’s an all or nothing mentality: “You don’t accept my full agenda; I’m not budging and finding ways to compromise on what’s on your agenda.” This negatively impacts American citizens, and we’ve seen it most recently with gun control. It's time for politicians on both sides to find common ground and pass common sense laws that protect the rights of all the people and keep Americans safe.

How I’m finding ways to make a positive impact

I am a believer that media, if done authentically and with fact-based information, can create positive change in our communities by educating individuals on important issues and spreading the word about their democracy and constitutional rights. A passion project of mine, Atomic Whale Studios, is a content engine that operates independently of Spectrum and is focused on the truth and producing stories that matter. We’ve created a podcast—The Control Variable—specifically aimed to educate using fact-based reporting, with our first 5-part series focused on the insurrection that occurred January 6, 2021.

I’m also proud to see a greater emphasis companies are placing on ethical consumerism. At Spectrum, we’ve established a Social Impact knowledge center to help support our clients, and our agency, with environmental, social, governance (ESG) initiatives—this is a great start for us to bring positive change to the communities we serve. As a purpose-driven organization, we’ll continue to find ways, in addition to our commitment to corporate social responsibility and DE+I, to set an example for the future.

All the critical, life-changing work we’ve done towards equality is being erased. Overturning Roe v. Wade was just the beginning, but if that ruling can happen, what else can? People are sleepwalking past these very important issues, but I’m hoping that someday something will wake them up.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Jonathan Wilson, Owner and CEO.

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