Madeleine Kunin: This year, there is not much to be happy about

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Leahy Capitol attack
An image from the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, taken by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

It is automatic to greet people I meet in the first few days of January with the words “Happy New Year.” Almost always there is this response:” Happy New Year, to you too.”

The truth is, that this year, there is not much to be happy about. (Warning. This is a downer, but read to the end.)

Covid is rampant. We have no clue — not even from the experts — when this surge is going to end.

Then there is Sen. Manchin. He has just announced what I feared he would: that any change in the filibuster rule must be achieved by a bipartisan vote. That’s a death knell for the bill that would restore democratic voting rights and a bushel of other bills.

Remember the Build Back Better bill and the child tax credit, which just expired? Manchin’s fingerprints are everywhere, chopping away at President Biden’s agenda, including ignoring the doomsday prediction caused by climate change.

But that’s not the whole story. May I remind you of the Supreme Court? If or when Roe v. Wade gets overturned, it will be some middle-class and many poor women who will be punished the most. If women cannot determine when and whether they have children, they will not only lose control over their bodies, they lose control of their LIVES.

This likelihood makes me repeat the outlandish statement, “If only men could get pregnant.”

Then, maybe men would have to reject a scholarship to go to college because of an unexpected pregnancy. Or men, like women, would have to stay out of the workforce for many years because a third, fourth or fifth child was on the way.

Sen. Susan Collins had believed Justice Brett Kavanagh when he agreed that Roe v. Wade was established law, implying that he would not vote to overturn it. So much for promises.

There is much to bemoan. A tired voice speaks to me, “Are you going to give up NOW?”

I find my voice. “NO!”

I will not stop being a citizen activist now. I’ve given speeches, marched in demonstrations, written letters to the editor, served on panels and expressed my opinion on these subjects for much of my adult life. So many of us have done the same.

We have no choice. We must fight back. We still live in a democracy, even if it is somewhat bruised. The 2022 election is critical to the future of our country. Imagine another Trump presidency. That should be enough to wake us up.

If we sink into depression and inaction, that could be the outcome. We must use our tried but true tools to support the president, members of Congress, state legislatures, and local candidates. “Get out the vote” must be our rallying cry in 2022 and 2024. It worked before. It will work again.

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Madeleine May Kunin

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