Republicans, moderation and dissent

Republican opposition to the right not to get pregnant has been a disaster for them. It’s the reason they didn’t have a red wave last year; it put a pro-choice judge on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court last week (this is a big deal both for abortion rights and voting rights in the state). Even some Republicans are admitting forced-birth policies are a loser for them.

The results? Talking about it less and the judge who just banned mifepristone may have delayed his decision to avoid influencing the Wisconsin election. But no moderation in their policies. Instead we have Wisconsin Republicans raising the possibility of impeaching the new justice — they have the votes in the legislature — while the Republican-dominated Tennessee House expelled two black representatives for participating in an anti-gun protest (the white Democrat who participated was not expelled). One represents Memphis, which is considering simply reappointing him, so the GOP is threatening punishment if they do that. In Florida, cops jailed three Democrats who participated in a peaceful abortion protest (if you click through to the source article, Tallahassee city government debates the circumstances).

God knows what the NC Legislature might do now that Dem Tricia Cotham has switched parties, giving them the votes to override the governor’s vetoes (Cotham has been mum on whether this means a change in her solidly pro-choice voting history). When it became obvious a Dem was going to win the governorship a few years ago, the legislature immediately reduced the governor’s powers. Over in Montana, Republicans are considering rule changes to make it harder for a Democrat to win a Senate seat in 2024 — after which the rules will expire.

That’s their solution to embracing wildly unpopular positions: fight democracy and become more extreme. As discussed in comments at that link, maybe it’s because the big money doesn’t want to change or that voters feel oppressed coexisting with liberals. Or that believing their enemies are monsters makes it easy to feel virtuous. Either way, change is mostly cosmetic — focus on hurting trans people rather than gays, frame anti-gay measures as protecting children (spoiler: they aren’t).

In addition to fighting democracy, they’re also punching down at dissenters, e.g. Tennessee).  As I’ve said before, dissent horrifies people in power who claim they have the only truth.  The left is saying gay people are not pedophiles, trans people are not pedophiles, gun control is good, Putin is not our friend, Ron DeSantis is not a good leader — heresy! And nobody likes heresy. “Right wing ideas have lost out, because those ideas are generally both empirically wrong and normatively disgusting” but that’s not an acceptable conclusion. Stamping out the other side and their ideas? That’s cool.  Hence right winger Edward Szall celebrating North Korea and the Taliban for limiting free thought — why can’t the U.S. be that effective in repressing heresy?

Charlie Kirk grumbles he’s not a fan of democracy because each community should be able to set its own rules without interference from the federal government. Of course that’s not an issue with democracy — is each community going to elect a king? — and it stinks like week-old mackerel: in my lifetime local control was mostly used to invoke the rights of communities to segregation and such. Human rights shouldn’t depend on where you live if there’s an alternative — and Brown v. Board of Education and 1960s civil-rights laws offered that.

So, for example, Florida wants to make it easier for people outside a community to run for school board seats, and make the elections partisan (officially they aren’t). A Catholic minister in Wisconsin prior to their court election directed his congregation to vote Republican for the sake of their souls, though churches picking sides violates the law.

Part of their outrage is that liberal ideas work: there are benefits to diversity, equality and tolerance. The covid vaccine works. Gays are not any more pedophile than straights. It’s not “woke” to admit them and the American banking and business community is not “woke” because it accepts such basic facts (SVB Bank didn’t collapse because it was woke — faced with bad financial projections, the board changed the projection model.) Businesses don’t run LGBTQ promotions because they’re “woke,” they run them because there’s money in the LGBTQ demographic, more than in appeasing the haters. But that very fact freaks the right-wing out: they aren’t a big enough demographic to stop gay-friendly businesses and the majority of the country is fine with that. Just as very few people outside the right-wing bubble buy into the Woke Is Evil rant. While the Republican Party remains a threat to democracy, their victory isn’t the slam-dunk I feared it would be during the Trump years.

To leave on an up note, the Justice Department has appealed the mifepristone ruling. A Washington State judge has ruled the opposite from the Texas judge. And growing numbers of people see Republicans for what they are. It’s not a slam-dunk for democracy either, but hope is not dead.

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