03 August 2022

Ding, dong.....

Traditionally, Kansas has been as ruby-red as the slippers sported by its most iconic fictional inhabitant -- but the state is looking a little more Munchkin-blue right now, with its voters dropping a house on an effort to facilitate banning abortion.

At issue, ultimately, was a 2019 ruling by the state supreme court that the state constitution protected abortion rights.  This year, forced-birthers placed an initiative on the ballot which would have amended the state constitution to allow the Republican-dominated legislature to ban abortion.  Yesterday, voters massively rejected the amendment -- votes are still being counted, but it looks like the margin will be about 60% to 40%.  This in a state that went for Trump by 56% to 42% in 2020.  Turnout was high for a non-presidential primary election day, at least 830,000, compared to 470,000 for primary election day in 2018.

This is the first time since the fall of Roe that abortion rights have been put to a vote in a popular referendum as opposed to a legislature.  The results, especially in such a conservative state, can't be encouraging for the party which has been falling all over itself to pass more and more draconian abortion restrictions.

Republicans may be in the process of achieving the most stupendous feat of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in living memory.  A few months ago, everything looked in place for a major "red wave" in this year's election and probably several elections to come.  Voters were alarmed about inflation and gas prices, while the Democrats (thanks mainly to Manchin and Sinema) appeared dithering and ineffectual.  As if that weren't bad enough, the Democrats had managed to position themselves as the party of identity politics, defunding the police, gun-grabbing, men using the girls' bathroom and muscling in on women's sports teams, and negativity about "whiteness" in the schools.  If a more comprehensive program for political suicide is possible, I can hardly imagine what it might look like.

And then, suddenly, the Republican dog caught the car it had been chasing for 49 years.  The federal Supreme Court, thanks to judges chosen by a president installed via vote suppression and Russian meddling, finally delivered the prize the party's Christianist* base had single-mindedly sought for decades -- the overturn of Roe v Wade.  Red-state legislatures vied with each other to pass the most extreme bans and restrictions, and there has even been talk about limiting interstate commerce in abortion pills, as well as interstate travel, to prevent women in red states from accessing abortion services based elsewhere.

Almost overnight the Republicans have re-branded themselves from a bulwark against urban anarchy, gender lunacy, and anti-white racism, to the party of forcing ten-year-old girls to serve as breeding stock for rapists.

Now, they can change course when they realize they're about to march over a cliff.  Just yesterday, having shrewdly figured out that blocking a veterans' health-care bill they themselves had approved mere weeks before, out of pique about the Schumer-Manchin tax-and-climate deal, (and fist-bumping with glee about it) wasn't a good look, they reversed themselves and let it pass.

But abortion isn't like that.  There's no serious constituency for shitting on veterans, but to the Christianist voting base that now dominates the party from below, banning abortion is the lodestar, the holy grail, the one ring to rule them all.  It's what has kept them voting, year after year, for Republican candidates they would otherwise have found dubious, up to and including Trump -- the hope that, at long last, Roe would be swept away and state power would act to enforce their most fanatically-held taboo.  They won't tolerate any reversal by politicians.

And so now the mainstream American mass public mind has suddenly awakened to the fact that, no, all this religion and anti-abortion and anti-gay stuff isn't just a smoke-screen for the old agenda of tax cuts and racism -- it is the actual agenda now.  This is no longer the party of Goldwater and Reagan and the Bushes.  The Christianists now hold the whip, and they're deadly serious about forcing women and even young girls to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

This is not at all grounds for Democrats to get complacent about this November, much less 2024.  Their leaders and activists could still blow it by doubling down on all the nonsense that was driving voters away before.  But after yesterday's referendum, no one can deny that the fall of Roe and its aftermath are a game-changer.  Even in Kansas, it feels like we're not in Kansas any more.

[*A term analogous to "Islamist", referring to fundamentalists and hard-line traditionalist Catholics, not all Christians.]


Blogger Mike said...

Kansas City residents now will not have to drive across Missouri to get to Illinois for abortion access.

03 August, 2022 02:25  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Separation of church and state is intended to prevent corruption of either against the other.

The 1st Amendment says government must not infringe on "the church", which Republicans rail about, BUT ALSO, and more important, the church has no role in government. Religion in America has no role in governing.

To emphasize that last statement, consider the many differences between religions and even between sects within the same religion. If a religion becomes involved in government, it leads to discrimination and even persecution of those deemed not adhering to certain religious tenets.

There is no role for religion in governance. We must not decide our laws on the laws of a particular religion -- which is exactly what has happened in the SCOTUS's ruling on June 24.

03 August, 2022 06:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mike: Indeed, Kansas should be getting a lot of visitors from several nearby states.

Shaw: I've always said that even Christians should fear a theocracy in the US, because it would end up persecuting those who are the "wrong" kind of Christian.

The Christianist movement of today is exactly what the Founders were trying to prevent when they wrote a firmly secular Constitution. It's a direct attack on the fundamental nature of the American system.

Anon: Sorry, but your "long" (as you said) comment had almost nothing to do with the main topic of the post, and was also very hard to understand.

03 August, 2022 06:49  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Terrific essay, and the metaphors are excellent! I hope this is the sleeping giant we need for November and 2024. (I need to work the word "Christianist" into my rants about religion.)

03 August, 2022 09:50  
Blogger run75441 said...


I finally found what I wanted to say or submit here:

"The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated."

to give the second part greater emphasis, I split the sentences above from the following.

"The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments." Alexander Hamilton "The Federalist Papers: No. 78"

The last sentence certainly smacks of Andrew Jackson's response to John Marshall. ~"He decided, now let him enforce it."

Justices Sotomayer and Kagan offered excellent rebuttals as well as Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean of the School of Law UCLA.

I can not be certain yet whether the Republican led state of Kansas is a sign for us of how upset people are. I certainly is a marker of state legislators exceeding their authority. Now if only Democratic state constituents can get as angry? We may then have a stronger Senate and House to do more things rather than just discuss.

Side note. It appears Sinema is seeking to preserve a tax break for investment managers and narrow a levy hike on large corporations in the economic package. Sigh . . . nothing is clean.

I would like to post this tomorrow, if ok?

03 August, 2022 20:08  
Blogger Bohemian said...

Like the 'Christianist' Label for Religious extremism, might start using that one myself when describing them now. *LOL* I'm not getting the least bit complacent about the Election, too much is at stake. I did find it mildly Interesting, that as Moderate Independents, the Primary Voting mailed to us was exclusively Democrats... guess the ReTrumplican Party already knows they will not sway any of the Independents and No-Party Voters. I also found it Interesting that some Positions had NO Candidate... guess the Death Threats, Intimidation Tactics and such that the Radicalized Right have used, paid off some, a lot of potentially good Candidates are too afraid to run now.

03 August, 2022 20:11  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ricko: Thanks! If I recall correctly, "Christianist" was coined by Andrew Sullivan as a direct analogy with "Islamist". A useful word, but I'm not sure how widely understood it is, which is why I usually include the definition somewhere if I use it.

Run: What Roberts understands, but the five Christianists on the Court apparently don't, is that the Court's power depends on its gravitas and the respect people have for it. By ignoring precedent, ruling based on ideology, and basically making shit up, they're throwing that away.

There's no shortage of anger among voters. The problem is the lack of candidates and options to enable them to vote in a way to do something about the issues making them angry.

An effective Senate requires a bigger majority, to neuter Manchin and Sinema. Fortunately, that seems quite possible, given the dud candidates the Republicans are choosing.

Bohemian: It's wise to not get complacent about the election. There are still four months to go, and a lot can happen in that time.

I always find that some positions on the ballot have only one candidate. There's often not much interest for obscure or low-prestige offices.

04 August, 2022 00:25  
Blogger Jack said...

It will be interesting to see whether overturning Roe turns out to be the sort of over-reach by the Christian right that could hurt them. I hope so!

04 August, 2022 04:24  
Blogger Tommykey said...

The outcome of the vote in Kansas does appear to support a theory of mine. There are Republican and unaffiliated voters who support abortion rights, but they take a back seat to other issues where they are more conservative, so that they end up voting for the Republican over the Democrat because of crime, immigration, taxes, etc. Therefore, it leads to a paradox of an increase in abortion restrictions even though a majority of people support abortion rights because it just falls lower on the list of voter priorities for voters who aren't Democrats.

04 August, 2022 13:56  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Jack: It's beginning to look that way -- although I would say it's more the wave of draconian state laws, more than the overturn of Roe itself, that are doing the damage.

Tommykey: I'm sure that's true. Christianists who are fanatically against abortion are more likely to be single-issue voters on the subject, whereas those who support abortion rights typically aren't. I think, though, that a big part of the reason for that is that pro-choicers who are otherwise conservative haven't felt that abortion rights were in much danger, because of Roe. Now that Roe is gone and all there ghastly laws are being enacted, it's clear that those rights are indeed in danger -- so the abortion issue becomes a higher priority for pro-choice voters of whatever political stripe.

04 August, 2022 14:17  
Blogger Ami said...

I'm happy the vote turned out the way it did.
I found it more than a little horrifying that a NO vote was voting FOR abortions while a yes vote was voting against it. My understanding was that the wording was done that way on purpose to confuse people.

I read on more than one right wing site afterward that 'people were confused, so voted wrong'.
But since the republiKKKans were the ones who wrote it...

I keep hearing how the Democrats are going to lose in the midterms, but you know what? I don't believe that this time. The christians and their horrible racist, homophobic asshole friends have crossed so many lines that I can't imagine people not being sick and tired of it and voting against all the crazy.

05 August, 2022 00:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The wording may have been deliberately confusing, but there were also efforts by the campaigns to clarify it -- "vote NO to protect abortion rights" and suchlike. I doubt many people voted the wrong way by mistake. The forced-birthers are just clutching at straws.

The polling has shifted 14 points in the Democrats' favor (generic Congressional ballot poll) since the overturning of Roe. People are becoming aware that there's a real threat to their rights here.

05 August, 2022 17:42  
Blogger Daal said...

I hadn't heard about this, too upset to keep up with news -- thanks for the glimmer of light. I'm truly hoping this motivates people to get off their butts & vote

07 August, 2022 18:16  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It certainly motivated them in Kansas. The actual turnout was 908,000, incredibly high for a non-presidential primary election. People are energized about this.

07 August, 2022 19:05  
Anonymous Larry Lennhoff said...

I'm happy that the referendum was defeated. We need to keep working towards the midterms. It seems to me that the trend is that when policies are directly on the ballot in the form of initiatives, policies Democrats favor tend to win. But when it come to electing politicians, tribal loyalty overrides policy preferences. Thus we see states voting to expand Medicaid while simultaneously electing politician who promptly repeal the expansion. So let's all donate the time, money and so forth that we can afford so we can hold the House and render Manchin and Sinema powerless.

08 August, 2022 10:17  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Larry: We'll see. The Republicans have made it very clear that voting for them will lead to attacks on abortion rights. Kansas showed that a lot of people who are basically conservative don't want abortion banned. People like that in other red states are going to face a choice they didn't face before, when Roe limited what elected officials could do.

08 August, 2022 23:40  

Post a Comment

<< Home