Like most Democrats, and indeed most Americans, I'm a strong supporter of abortion rights. The recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case which ruled that the Constitution protects a woman's right to choose an abortion, deeply irritates me.
So does the weak response of Democratic leaders in Washington, especially since the leaked draft Supreme Court decision gave Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer plenty of time to formulate plans for protecting abortion rights after the court gave a green light to about half the states banning abortion entirely.
Telling people, vote in November, is pretty much useless until that platitude is fleshed out with specifics.
Like, vote for these Democratic Senate candidates, because we need at least 52 Senators who are willing to do away with the filibuster, and vote for these Democratic House candidates, because they are the key to keeping control of both houses of Congress -- which is needed to pass a law making abortion legal in all 50 states.
Here's the thing, though.
The best laid plans of politicians and political junkies like me usually are less powerful than a fundamental law of nature, chaos theory. Now, I readily admit that strictly speaking, chaos theory probably isn't exactly what I'm talking about here.
Maybe chance is a better word. However, chance implies randomness. Chaos theory is deterministic. Causes and effects rule the roost.
But with chaos, a small cause can have a large effect. Often this is termed the butterfly effect, as in a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can kick off atmospheric changes that multiply over time and can create a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
Currently there's lots of talk about how Republicans played the long game in pursuing their anti-abortion crusade. After decades of diligent hard work, now they're reaping the reward of their labors with the 5-4 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the three liberal justices and Roberts being in the minority against Thomas, Gorsuch, Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett.
One vote on the Supreme Court did away with abortion rights.
Let's take a plausible look at how different the makeup of the Supreme Court would be today if a few people had made different small decisions in the past that ended up, in a chaos theory fashion, causing a seismic shift in not only abortion rights, but other issues the conservative majority has been deciding, like gun control.
In 2000 George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 543 votes in Florida. Bush appointed two conservatives to the Supreme Court, Alito and Roberts. If any one of a number of things had happened differently in Florida, including the famous "butterfly ballot" that likely took lots of votes away from Gore, we would have had a Democratic president who could have appointed two liberals to the court.
Barack Obama appointed two liberals to the court, Kagan and Sotomayor. But if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had decided to retire from the court during the time Obama was president and Democrats controlled the Senate, Obama could have appointed three liberals.
Donald Trump appointed three conservatives to the court, Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch, after narrowly defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. If Clinton hadn't decided to have her own email server while Secretary of State under Obama, "her emails" wouldn't have been a campaign issue, and Comey wouldn't have been able to make his infamous Justice Department pronouncement about new messages being found, shortly before the election.
So a few small events and choices led to the conservative Supreme Court majority that overturned Roe v. Wade. Of course, no one knew this at the time. It is only looking back that we can discern the hand of unpredictable chaos in today's news.
Which means that at this moment we aren't able to know what chaotic forces are going to impact the 2022 midterms, 2024 presidential election, the war in Ukraine, how the debate over abortion plays out next, and so many other things that pundits pretend to be able to forecast, yet actually defy prediction.