Welcome to 2022 Kentucky, where our Super Majority Legislature has made it so that abortions are illegal, guns are in the hands of anyone who wants one, publicly funded private schools in larger cities will be allowed to suck the life out of rural public schools, and public school teachers are a dying breed. In creating this world, the Republicans ignored health care, looming environmental catastrophes, and our children slipping back into poverty.
In our 2022 Kentucky, life is getting to be much like reading a dystopian novel:
The alarm roused Carrie Ann from a sweet dream where she was sitting by a babbling brook, just listening to the birds and wind in the high trees. “…This morning, Russia has launched an attack against Ukraine…” Wiping sleep from her eyes and sitting up on the side of bed, she mumbled “Alexa, shut up!” “…bomb cyclone is heading toward the northeast this weekend, time to batten down those hatches…” Shaking her head to clear the morning cobwebs, Carrie Anne shouted “ALEXA, CANCEL!!”
Walking into the bathroom, she called “Alexa, play WNKR.” The electronic voice stated “playing station WNKR” and the radio again blared out the morning news as she started brushing her teeth.
Dressed and ready, Carrie Ann checked the chamber and clip of her 32 Keltec as she dropped it into her backpack. She walked out the door, locking it securely behind her, listening for the electronic alarm “doors locked, away” to signal her house was, indeed, secure. She would be notified on her phone should anyone try to get into the house without her permission.
Driving to work, she frowned at the heavy traffic with its layer of dirty fog hovering overhead as the distant industrial complex freely belched out its dark, chemical-laden smoke. She didn’t like it, but at least it meant she would have an affordable vehicle to drive and a job to go to each day so she could eat and have a place to live. She worried some days that she would never be able to retire, but that would be later; now she just needed to make it paycheck to paycheck, praying she would not get sick.
As traffic slowed to a crawl and then to a stop, her mind wandered to Lily. Her friend since grade school had found out she was pregnant. Carrie Ann had warned her old friend against messing around with that lothario she’d found. But, obviously, Lil had her own mind, and once he found out she was in the family way, the “love of her life” was like the old book “Gone With the Wind,” leaving her to pick up the pieces.
Carrie Ann remembered Lil’s frantic calls and then the silence. Lil had decided on an abortion based on her age, income, the missing father, and her doctor’s recommendations that she never try to have a child due to her weakened heart and immune system. Yet, she couldn’t find a clinic, indeed, no doctor — not even the ones who told her not to try — would help her, because no one wanted to go to jail. She’d wound up going to an illegal clinic.
Carrie Ann had gone to her apartment after being unable to contact her. As traffic started moving forward, she remembered finding her friend alone and dying, blood flowing freely from her body as an infection wracked her with pain. She thought of the terrifying ambulance ride to the hospital, the agonizing wait, and the final few moments of her friend’s life as the heart monitor flatlined, the tone echoing into silence … Lily had never regained consciousness.
The heart monitor tone fading to silence in her memory, Carrie Ann walked to her miniscule office, the loud line machines drowning out her memories. As always, she glanced at the workers shoving widgets under the stampers; marveling at the dexterity that kept them from having smashed fingers and hands. She briefly considered the ever-widening age of those employees, seeing at least two or three of them in their early teens and several nearing 80. She remembered her teen years spent in a public school, and how her grandparents had retired in their 50’s to tour the world.
How times had changed in just those few years.
The most unsettling part of all of this is it does not have to be this way. We can write a different story for 2023 and beyond. But to do so, we need to shift our view from the past to the future, and vote in folks who will work for the people — all the people — and move our state forward instead of racing to the bottom of the stack.
The first step is holding the runaway, power-mad, supermajority legislature responsible for the damage they have caused. The second is to put in place true civil servants: folks who, instead of pushing personal agendas and working only to stay in office, want the best for the Commonwealth and her people.
And by all means, take them at their word. Damon Thayer summed up the attitude of the supermajority when he said he knew his constituents were for a certain bill, but he was against it. With his characteristic serpentine grin he said if his constituents did not like it: “let them vote me out.”
So be it. Unlike Carrie Anne, we will not be able to simply close a book or watch the credits of an action-packed dystopian movie. We will be living in that dystopia, day after dreary day. The only hope we have is to stand up to them, tell them every chance we can that we do not want this race to the past, to the bottom. They work for us, not the other way around. Let them know in the only voice they hear: our VOTE.
Written by Debby Lucas Angel, candidate for House District 61.