Opinion | Conservatives Try to Lock In Power

Lastly, the percentage of Americans with college degrees keeps rising, moving from 4.6 percent in 1940 to 36 percent in 2019.

Conservatives see all of these trends, and they are alarmed. So, they want to freeze time, or even turn it back. Their reading of the Constitution is stuck in the understanding of it when it was written. It is the same for religious texts. They want to return to a pre-1960s era, before the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement and the gay rights movement, before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and Roe v. Wade, before the Affordable Care Act and gay marriage, before there was a Black president and a browning country.

This is why they happily cheer Trump’s attack on immigrants — both legal and undocumented. It is why they encourage efforts to disenfranchise voters. It is why Trump’s attacks on cities resonate, as does his MAGA mantra.

And this is why they will move heaven and earth to fill Ginsburg’s seat.

Controlling the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, is the surest way for these conservatives to continue to wield power even as their ranks thin.

And the rest of us have to be prepared to live in a world where the minority of the people can have most of the power. We have to come to grips with the ways in which the system is broken. A president who lost the popular vote will have nominated a third of the Supreme Court. A Senate Republican majority, which as Vox’s Ian Millhiser pointed out last year, “represents 15 million fewer people than the Democratic ‘minority,’” will likely vote to confirm that nominee.

What most Americans believe or want will be of little consideration. A 6-to-3 conservative advantage on the Supreme Court could be an almost impossible hurdle to clear and could lead to a turning back of the clock on many liberties we now take for granted.

Social progress is now on the chopping block. In this way, for many of us, Donald Trump’s legacy will likely be with us for the rest of our lives.

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