Imperiled Progress | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Imperiled Progress 

Taking a Gander: Amy Coney Barrett's nomination threatens to reverse America's course

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Contrary to Trump's la-la-land belief that Norwegians are just dying to immigrate to America, even the traditional troll nokkens of that country are avoiding Trump's border-wall waiting lines. They seem totally disinterested in winning U.S. citizenship. Can you believe it! Everyone wants to come to America, don't they?

The truth is, Norway's most capable scholars, scientists, mountain climbers and intrepid sailors have shown no interest in entering our country, so there's been no need to build a formidable barrier along our eastern seaboard—and make them pay for it. Trump, in retrospect, was grossly naive when he wishfully, whimsically suggested that any Norwegian might be jumping-ship—it just ain't a-gonna happen.

It's true that people in many Third World countries wish to immigrate to America. Many societies lag behind ours, and a passel of them are right here in our backyard. Mexico and South and Central America are tragically beset by economic and social pains, so northward immigration is a constant lure.

But, despite the president's belief that everyone who isn't a U.S. citizen wants to become one, residents of better run developed countries aren't rushing to the U.S., nor would they even consider relocating here. What could they possibly gain? They already have their own state-of-the-art affordable medical care, social safety nets and economical secondary education. They've stamped out poverty and hunger and have lower infant and maternal mortality. So, why would a Norwegian botch it by surrendering his passport for a home with the Yankees?

The reality is that the older, more sophisticated countries of Europe and Asia consider America to be a world toddler—one that still has an occasional accident and refuses to eat its vegetables. Time alone won't change that. A progressive outlook and a willingness to acknowledge what has worked for others are the only ways to advance into a more mature, balanced and secure society.

So far, the U.S. has been a poor student of the world. We have some great models—for instance, of affordable healthcare for all—yet we resist adoption of another's proven system. It doesn't have to be an American original. A great example is Japan's health care, where everyone has unlimited access to medical services, and it doesn't cost them an arm and a leg. There, the average family pays around $280 per month, and their medical care is better than ours, particularly when we consider our far sub-standard infant and maternal mortality.

We're not in this alone, but one would never know it. We can solve many of our own problems by employing the time-proven progressive approaches from a brotherhood of nations. There's no reason for us to be floundering in a piecemeal approach to progress, when so many others are leading the way. The experiments have already been done—so that we're not required to reinvent the wheel—and we can be beneficiaries of other's proven solutions to the same problems we now face.

However, an endemic smugness—the notion that no one can do anything better than we—stands in the way of us adopting the successful programs that work elsewhere.

The reality is that the U.S. is not a very old country, so it's going to take time for it to catch up with others more advanced. Sadly, we're not only not catching up—we're slipping backward and risking forfeiture of many of our hard-won gains. The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court justice is a case in point, one that threatens to turn the U.S. into a backward pseudo-theocracy.

Americans have the right to know Barrett's stand on the issues, but her confirmation hearing hasn't provided a glimpse of them, even on Social Security and Medicare. With views that seem unbalanced, fanatical and extreme, Barrett is an enemy of progress. Her confirmation would tilt the balance of court to the right, potentially ushering in the criminalization of IUDs and other forms of birth control, the rejection of the rights of gays to enjoy marital bonds and forcing pregnant rape victims to go full term.

Is this really what America wants? Seventy-four percent of Americans want to retain abortion rights, but the old white men in the Senate—and the re-deification of the courts—are standing in the way of modernization and progress. In Barrett, they seem to have found a bedfellow.

Barrett isn't the picture of a real American nor can she present herself as a patriot. She is the maker of a lifelong religious vow that puts people and country last. The problem isn't Catholicism; it's the extreme cult-like Pentecostal side group to which Barrett has sworn allegiance. As a "handmaid" of the People of Praise, her confirmation threatens a plague on civil rights that could damage our country for years to come and invalidate decades of progress. There's a reason why the People of Praise website immediately erased all mention of her; it should make all of us wary that Barrett has something to hide.

If you want a progressive America; if you find it offensive to think of our country as a church-state; if you are anxious to retain the benefits of a national health care plan; if you think women's choice is an essential freedom and that sexual matters are the private realm of individuals, oppose the Barrett confirmation and make sure your senators know how you feel.

The author is a novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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