When Tennessee GOP Congressman, Scott DesJarlais, discovered he’d knocked up one of his patients, there was a simple solution. A drive down to Georgia for an abortion would fix that glitch, same as it had for his wife twice before. His staunchly “pro-life” supporters keep sending him back to Congress without a hint of concern.
When the mistress to GOP Rep Tim Murphy turned up pregnant he recommended the obvious solution. If not for a scathing harassment lawsuit from his office staff he might still be in Congress. We don’t know how many times the former President paid for an abortion because he pointedly refuses to answer the question. Republicans don’t care. Indifference from Republican voters to abortions encouraged and even funded by the white men they elect might seem strange, but it shouldn’t. This is exactly the outcome that anti-abortion politics was meant to produce.
A dirty secret sits beneath Republicans’ muted response to Texas’ new abortion ban. Republican posturing on abortion has always been premised on the fact that Roe was unassailable. Taking the most extreme and unpopular position on reproductive rights was a free ride because that dog could never catch the car. Now a frothing mob of theocrats in the Texas Legislature has wrecked the silent bargain at the root of Republican power. There will be hell to pay.
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade last week without even hearing an argument. Texas Republicans this spring had passed a bizarrely structured abortion ban which everyone, including Republicans, assumed the courts would invalidate. They didn’t.
Texas Republicans woke up to discover that they’d banned all abortions in the state. Because of the breadth of the law’s enforcement mechanisms, no one will be able to get an abortion in Texas for any reason.
Why would Legislators let such an absurd and extreme bill pass? Why not? The only cost of passing an abortion ban should have been the money shelled out by taxpayers and the ACLU to fight over it in court.
The egregiousness of this bill was supposed to be its saving grace. A simple 12-week ban on abortion with a few reasonable exceptions for health and rape would not only have passed the Legislature, but the newly reconstituted SCOTUS might have let it stand. GOP leaders in Texas calculated that they could pacify the dumbest, craziest, most malicious elements of their base by appearing to give them what they wanted. In the end, we all live under the safe-keeping of the black-robed adults on the Supreme Court, so none of this was supposed to matter.
Texas’ abortion ban violates the silent agreement at the heart of Republican power. Predatory, destructive and occasionally insane Republican policy objectives, great for stirring up white yokels, must never touch affluent whites. If you’ve ever wondered why business leaders, investors and Mitt Romney-types tolerate mouth-breathing loons like Louis Gohmert, now you know. The Republican golden rule, “Do only unto others,” is supposed to protect affluent white voters from the rest of the party.
Since Republicans absorbed an influx of white Dixiecrat refugees in the 1980’s and ’90’s, the party has settled into a balance of power among its three often-overlapping interest groups: racists, religious nuts and grifters. All of them are either white, working their way toward whiteness, or are simply willing to cash a check to protect white supremacy.
Each Republican faction is allowed to let their freak flag fly as long as their extremes don’t threaten affluent whites. Religious nuts can rail about abortion as long as white sorority girls can still get one. Racists can scream about closing the border as long as goods and services still flow. Grifters can get permission to sell snake oil cures as long as solid healthcare remains available to the affluent. And both racists and religious nuts can stir up a crime panic as long as they consent to further gutting the IRS and SEC.
Republicans lecture America on the need for stiffer drug penalties while they and their kids light up. Medicare, which white people expect to need, is a sacred right, functioning as well as any European universal health care system. Medicaid, which white people don’t expect to need, is a constant political punching bag, crippled by pointless, punitive restrictions.
Social Security, which whites expect to need, is untouchable. Food and housing aid, which whites don’t expect to need, are constantly underfunded and subject to harassing restrictions.
Observers often puzzle at apparent Republican hypocrisy because they don’t understand the deal. It is perfectly okay for Rep. DesJarlais to secure abortions for his wives and/or mistresses. He’s a white man. He’s supposed to be able to do whatever he wants. White kids are supposed to be able to use whatever drugs they want while Black kids go to prison for it. Prisons are supposed to be incredibly cruel to torment the most minor Black offenders while enforcement of high-dollar crimes fades away.
A lot of conservative white women get abortions. A lot of hyper-conservative, super-religious white men need an abortion for a very special lady, at a very urgent moment. Under the the Republican Golden Rule, these essential services should always be available for whites with money to pay for them. Republican policies are supposed to target the “irresponsible,” you know, people of color and the poor. Trying to apply these rules to white people with money will go over like trying to make them wear a mask.
Republicans count on the secure disinterest that allows millions of affluent whites to treat politics like an irrelevant spectacle. White people often say things like “you should never lose friends over politics,” because the Republican Golden Rule reduces their political exposure to minor questions of tax rates and, well…pretty much just tax rates. None of the unseemly wrangling over this issue or that need distract them, because they’ve cut a deal for immunity from politics. Maybe the GOP can survive this glitch, but now they’ll have to do it without their most crucial advantage.
At the moment when the ’22 campaigns are getting started, Republicans will be descending into an internal knife fight over the party’s future. It won’t be an abstract question of which policies to pretend to pursue to win an election. This time it’s personal. What’s at stake is the very immunity from oversight that white men treasure.
How do Republicans continue to win after the grifters and racists no longer feel safe from the religious nuts? What happens to the Republican Party if the harassing, abusive, often destructive policies they impose on minority communities are equally applied to their own white donors? Thanks to a terrible miscalculation by Texas Legislators, we’re about to find out.
On a « lighter » note – enjoy the pure, unadulterated (uh hum) chutzpah of this woman!
Chris, I’ve got a question for you, given that you are dialed into the GOPe suburban bloc.
It’s obvious that in 2020 many of these voters split their ballots, voting against Mango Mussolini, but for GOPers down ballot. So the GOP gained some House seats. These voters seemed to be operating on the premise that they could vote out Trumpism, and then their GOP reps would go back to “normal” and protect them against all the socialisms.
But when we look at what has happened since Election Day, there are some major faults in that logic. We had the Big Lie, and those GOPers dodged it at best, and aided it at worst. We had the appalling domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol on 1/6, and while in the heat of the moment they expressed shock and outrage, they capitulated pretty quickly. ( My craven Congresscritter, Nehls, jumped on board the “was it really necessary to shoot Ashli Babbit” bandwagon. Yes, yes it was.). The election lies got even more ridiculous with the failed CA recall- not only are they screaming “FRAUD!!” before the votes even get counted, they’re doing it in the biggest Bluest state of all. It’s beyond farcical (but good job CA, in your rebuke of the nonsense).
Also we have the Covid friendly policies of GOP Governors like Abbott and DeSantis, and the not surprising increase in Covid cases and overburdened hospitals.
It’s pretty damn obvious to anyone outside the MAGA cult that the GOP is not interested in governance, in actuality addressing problems. The GOPers are more interested in backing the Big Lie than defeating the pandemic or preparing the infrastructure for increased severe weather events. So now to the question- what do you think about the prospects for GOPers running in the suburban swing districts? Will the soccer moms get fed up with the dangerous lunacy and brazen lies? Could the Dems flip some seats back?
Into which arm should I inject the Hopium this time? I’ve been waiting forever for the Republicans to pay for their hypocrisy, extreme positions, and empty promises. Every time I think ‘Now they’ve gone to far’ or ‘THIS has to be rock bottom’; the same suburban voters and moderate conservatives I keep waiting on to realize that they have finally been had just pull the lever for the Republicans because the Democrats are somehow always worse no matter what the Republicans have or haven’t just done in public for the whole world to see.
These same suburban voters and moderate conservatives have just watched four years of the Trump administration. If they haven’t by now seen something that would move them to vote for Biden or give a moderate/conservative Democrat a chance, I just don’t see how this Texas heart beat law will be the final straw. Call me a Doubting Thomas, but I’ve been burned so much since the Tea Party showed up that I would have to see it to believe it.
I don’t understand why people keep using the term “republicans”. I watched George Will on Bill Maher last night. Mr. Will is a Republican. The insane and stupid that have taken control of that apparatus are not.
I am sure segments of that show are available on YouTube already. Just watch his face when he talks about the death cult. The revulsion and contempt he has for them and their leader says it all. It is only equaled by his revulsion and terror of the woke. As he and Maher stated, The Declaration of Independence now has a trigger warning, because militant snowflakes…..
Democracy, in much of the western world, is being destroyed by simultaneous attacks from the far right and far left. It is just much further along in the u.s., where democracy is a dead man walking.
As Will said last night, there is no bottom.
So you watch Bill Maher regularly? That explains a lot, especially with regards to how you think that the “woke” and “militant snowflakes” are a problem. Maher peddles “political correctness run amok” garbage alongside his usual fare to entertain his aging audience of centrist Democrats.
Have you been watching the same suburban voters I have? The ones that gave Democrats a House majority in ’18 and sustained it in ’20? The same voters that went for Ossoff and Warnock in the Georgia runoffs and helped give us a Senate majority?
I’m grateful to the moderate conservative voters and suburban voters who went for Biden in the 2020 election and the who went for Ossoff and Warnock in the runoff after the temper tantrum Trump and his death cult threw between the election and runoff.
But that said, I recognize that there is still a problem with the electorate. If you remember the Democrats were suppose to be up to 52-55 Senators on election night, not at 48 and praying for an alignment of the stars to get them 2 more seats in the Georgia runoff. The Democrats were also supposed to at worst keep the majority they had in the House and at best expand on it not lose seats to the point that they were at a razor’s edge.
I look at the Biden victory as a defeat for Democrats. Down ballot of Trump, the Democrats got shellacked. Had the Republicans had the spine and balls to impeach Trump after the Ukraine phone call and run Pence for President, Pence would have won and be serving a full term right now. Not that that would have been the worst outcome imaginable. Pence is a mediocre to average politician who would have brought nothing to the office of President but likely not detracted too much from it either. The point being is that the forces that pushed moderate conservative voters and suburban voters into the Democrats’ camp in 2018 weren’t enough to hold those groups in large enough numbers in 2020. That’s why I don’t hold out hope that this Texas abortion bill will move the needle much away from the Republicans. Will the Texas bill affect things at the edges? Sure it will, but those voters who switched in 2018 and stayed in 2020 will see the Texas bill as reason to believe the Republican party is still sick and not return in 2022. Those moderate conservative voters and suburban voters who didn’t switch in 2018 and didn’t vote at least for Biden in 2020 will still keep holding out hope that the Republican Party will come to its senses if said voters just give the leadership a strong enough evil eye.
What I do see making 2022 an exception-to-the-rule year for Democrats and pulling in moderate conservative voters and suburban voters is getting that infrastructure bill passed and Covid-19 under control. No matter what religious affiliation American voters claim, said voters are philosophically Machiavellian when it comes to the ends justifying the means. If Biden can get that infrastructure bill done that Trump never could and get those potholes filled, bridges fixed, etc.; most voters will let most of the Biden Administration’s/Democratic Party’s minor to not-so-minor leadership mistakes and messaging disasters go under the bridge. If Biden can get Covid-19 under control by the early next year whether by carrot and stick or by hook and by crook, most voters will just be relieved to have their 2019 live styles back.
I was so proud of the democrats in 2020. But I think we are in a different situation now. Even though every election is “all about T”, this is an off-year election. Plus, people are tired. Of fighting, of politics and pulling themselves up one more time. Do I hope it will happen? Of course, but if democratic leadership is unable to deliver on the most important and basic issue – voting rights – I think it will have a dampening effect. God do I want to be wrong, but, as crazy as we view the T base, they are engaged and Will vote.
A big “we’ll see”
One wonders how a Molly Ivins or Ann Rice would manage the current situation. Fire and brimstone for sure! Gig ‘em, TX women! Make Molly and Ann proud.
I’ll go one better- haven’t Republicans seen enough over the last four years plus to support a moderate Republican? The answer, obviously, is No. The few moderate conservatives who remain in Congress have been rejected. It’s sickening to watch but what “is” is a feeding frenzy where Republican principles are fodder. They primary one another into oblivion and watch as Republican governors kill off their base – including children – (how low can you go ?) and refuse to set any limit to their acceptance and support of T’s depravity.
As for the suburban women Fly mentioned- the social cult movement is alive and well.
Frankly, I think the real question is – what will Democrats do? Are they so beat down from fighting that they won’t be able to mount a tsunami turn out in 2022? If Biden and Schumer are unable to pass some meaningful versionof HR1, regardless what happens to the infrastructure bill – I don’t see the democratic grassroots stepping up either.
Even with the atrocious abortion bills, it’s really all about HR1. Everything else fails or succeeds in lockstep.
Well Chris, if your logic is to be believed, why have upwards of 6 other states, so far, also run by the american taliban, jumped onto this bandwagon stating they are “crafting legislation” to mimic or even on-up this piece of work? I use the term “crafting legislation” loosely, as the animals in Afghanistan are doing the same thing, but far worse, in that hellhole.
If they were terrified of the outcome, why are these other states not slow-walking this law-making, until they get their butts saved somehow by SCOTUS?
I think you are completely mis-reading the room. The insane have taken over. The sane, but evil. people you knew of are no longer calling the shots. Look at the views of the insane and stupid on vaccinations. It is one thing to say “let er rip” when there is no vaccination available. It is quite another to say “god will protect me”, or “it is a hoax”, when a vaccine is so easily available.
The same white trash religious fanatics that love this abortion insanity are the same ones that don’t believe in getting vaccinated, and the same ones that attacked the capital Jan 6th, and will vote in the equally insane in 2022 and 2024. The minority will control the majority. The gerry-mandered structure set up by the sane, yet evil, affluent white, has been taken over by the taliban.
Frankenstein’s monster has escaped. There is only one way to put it down, and no one here wants to accept that.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. It’s only in Ruby Red ‘Merica where Republicans could conceivably pass Texas-esque abortion bans and suffer little consequence. Virtually everywhere else (including, importantly, the swing states where Republicans need to win next year) amounts to a ticking time bomb if GOP legislators there decide to make this an issue.
Hekk, even my dear home state of Florida has upwards of 60% (!) in favor of abortion rights. Even just a marginal shift could cost DeSantis his re-election chances; which, frankly, is why I’ll believe he’ll do it when he actually does it and not a moment before.
Events are out of control even if republicans come to their senses. Things are in motion that are irrational and bizarre and moving independently. I don’t know how this ends but I am very afraid for our Democracy. I wish I was more hopeful.
Neither do I. I do expect however, if Trump escapes indictment and prosecution and the normal limitations of the human body, he will run again in 2024. He will easily be nominated by the Republicans. The Electoral College will once again give Biden a victory but will be moderately close and Biden will have an even greater margin in the popular vote. However, some state legislatures will step in and attempt to nullify the elections. Very likely the whole affair will be bounced to the House of Representatives, where the Republican Party will control more state delegations. What happens at that point, will be the big question. I do not care to speculate. But that could be the trigger for lots of unpleasant things.
I am also assuming that Biden runs for a second term, which I believe is probable. Even though Harris is the heir apparent, I do not believe much of the nation will accept a woman of mixed race as President. IMO, there continues to be too much misogyny and racism remaining in this country.
Watching the Republican knife fight play out will be interesting. But your description is very apt regarding the current configuration of the Republican Party. The current Republican orientation is very similar to the situation it settled into during mid 1880s, when it fully adopted its white supremacy and oligarchic philosophies. From my current point of view, the takeover of the Republican Party by the South during the 1970s was basically inevitable, given the similarity of the philosophies.
Furthermore, the SCOTUS decision was basically inevitable when the right wing finally achieved its dream of five ideologic justices. Though this decision is basically an interim decision, whether Chief Justice Roberts will be able to convince the five ideologues to back off during the coming term will be very questionable. I somehow doubt that he will be successful. I expect in June 2022, a decision will be handed down that basically overturns Roe. That will be just in time to seriously influence the 2022 elections.
With the increasing indications that Trump will run again in 2024, I am personally becoming very strongly convinced that the U.S. on course for a major existential / constitutional crisis in 2024-2025. In the U.S., matters always drift until there is a major crisis, things get resolved, there are major changes and then matters improve. With the national outcry over the abortion decision, I believe and hope the people and the center will hold, and the historical pattern will be true once again.
“ What happens to the Republican Party if the harassing, abusive, often destructive policies they impose on minority communities are equally applied to their own white donors?”
Will they really do anything? In 2016, they professed to be shocked at Trump’s boorish behavior, but they held their noses and voted for him. In 2020, with evidence of Trump’s malice and incompetence impossible to ignore, a few GOPe said “Enough!” and endorsed Biden, but plenty wouldn’t. A prime example, George W Bush, who threw away his vote writing in Condi Rice, instead of taking an opportunity to repudiate the moral rot in the GOP. These people got their tax cuts and business friendly judges. As Aaron points out, they have the means to go elsewhere if there’s a need for an abortion. Maybe if they got outed on those elicit trips, then they’d care. While in most cases I oppose outing people on stuff pertaining to personal lives, I make one exception: relevant hypocrisy. The closeted gay who promotes homophobic policies and the GOP donor who arranges an abortion for his mistress both deserve to be outed.
The Trumpenproletariat are reveling in their permission to be their worst asshole, even violent selves. All state and local campaigns on the GOP side for the next few years will be a race to the bottom. Are the GOPe really going to vote for a Dem over the likes of Abbott, Paxton, Patrick, DeSantis, Gaetz, Cawthorne, Boebert, Greene, and any other Trumpist trash that survive the primaries?
There is one worry I have.
That wealthy enough white people in Texas are wealthy enough to drive over to New Mexico for an abortion, and thus won’t care.
There might be something to that, but Chris’ larger point still stands. Think of it in the context of how former Dixiecrats felt when Democrats supported major civil rights initiatives and they began moving to the GOP en masse. Dems kept trying, but the damage was done and the not so silent agreement that conditioned their support was broken.
Once you break that kind of conditional trust, you don’t fix it with a hearty “well you can just head on over to NM right next door!” – and when the thought of “if Republicans were willing to screw me over on abortion, what else could happen” plants itself in people’s minds, that’s not something that goes away. Particularly if more and more Republican-led states (like Florida!) pass similar laws very soon.
As always, great article. One statement though I’m wondering if there are any sources you can point to to validate: “Texas Republicans this spring had passed a bizarrely structured abortion ban which everyone, including Republicans, assumed the courts would invalidate.”
Is there actual evidence that the Texas R’s assumed this law would get invalidated?
That’s a great question. It’s tough because Republicans lie about abortion relentlessly. I’ve had some fairly senior GOP strategists and donors tell me to my face that abortion doesn’t matter because Roe will protect them. It’s not something I made up out of speculation.
There’s also just the simple, rational expectation that certain things are unconstitutional. Even if the courts overturned Roe v Wade, no sane constitutional scholar would have expected the court to allow this, which tells you what sane Republican strategists were being told by people who know about this stuff.
South Carolina’s 6 week abortion ban was invalidated within about 24 hours. There was no reason not to expect the same thing this time.
Then you can look at the GOP reaction to the court’s decision, ranging from stunned silence (most), to denial/evasion (Abbott), to actually rushing back to the safe arms of Roe (Sen. Cassidy). Sen Cassidy was basically every Republican with a brain cell when he went on TV to dismiss this law, “If it’s as terrible as people say it is, it‘ll be destroyed by the Supreme Court.” Or in other words “Please please please please Gorsuch save us!!!!”
No Republican is going to come out in public and explain that no one wants a law that would actually impinge on affluent white people’s rights, but that’s what they most desperately want to avoid.
No one has grandstanded on abortion more than Ben Sasse. His office communications are filled with the desperate attempt to keep Afghanistan in the headlines. These people are terrified.
” I’ve had some fairly senior GOP strategists and donors tell me to my face that abortion doesn’t matter because Roe will protect them. It’s not something I made up out of speculation.”
Right, but how many of those ‘senior’ strategists have not gotten kicked out or, if still involved, even have sway?
The problem may be you’re expecting the liars who were relying on institutions to freak out and change course, but those liars may no longer be in control of the course at all. If not purged from the ranks, they may have, like you, left willingly, thus leaving behind the genuine True Believers who were never lying when they said they wanted this.
And, in your original post, you talk about the richer grifter / racist Republicans no longer ‘feeling safe’ from the religious nuts, but they probably still are. You think that public abortion hotline is ever, ever, ever going to be used on a white woman from a household making north of six figures a year? They’ll still get their safe, secure, private, medically supervised abortions.
It’s the impoverished and the people of color who will get the double Scarlet Letters of kids they can’t raise and jail time. That suits the grifters and the racists fine.
I see things the same way. In Florida you have love bugs. The male and female attach each other at their rear ends. They fly in opposite directions but the female much larger wins out and drags the poor male into an oncoming car with her. That is an analogy of what you wrote about.
The fact that Trump and his family are not in jail shows how uneven the laws are applied. The fact that ignoramus Trump with a loud hate filled mouth, completely incompetent in governance won over Hillary which regardless if you agree with her politics or not was the most qualified president candidate in my life time won the actual election but by the electoral college Trump won is the star witness of what rich white male privilege is.
This long term is not stable. The majority are not going to tolerate domination forever by a minority . Especially by one as cruel as this. I hope we can resolve this by the ballot instead of by the bullet. That depends on rich white dudes realizing that they have a whole lot to lose in a violent conflict. Compromise and tolerance is better. But my observation has been Joe Martina is as dumb as Joe six pack.
“This long term is not stable. The majority are not going to tolerate domination forever by a minority” I hope we can resolve this by the ballot not the bullet.”
I wish that was true but doubt it. I believe from experience that the only thing that would result in change is if large majorities of American go hungry, And by large I mean hundreds of millions.
People will tolerate a lot (including being dominated by a minority). The only thing they won’t tolerate is hunger.
So I hold out little hope things will change absent a massive drought/food shortage caused by climate change. But then it will be too late.