Friday, September 03, 2021


Today, as part of his "New York Times Pitchbot" Twitter feed, DougJ of Balloon Juice posted a link to this Politico opinion piece:

Based on the headline, I anticipated that the piece (which is from 2019) would be too-clever-by-half contrarianism. But the author, Robin Marty, makes an intelligent argument that seems relevant now.
So why am I so happy the United States’ strongest abortion protection is hanging in the balance? Because if Roe v. Wade’s fate really comes before the Supreme Court, then for the first time in decades, the abortion rights movement will understand that the threat it is facing is not theoretical, and supporters will stop fighting like it is.... If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the decision will finally force the ideological zeal typical of a political opposition—the force that has long powered the anti-abortion movement—onto the abortion rights movement. And liberal complacency on the issue of abortion could end for good....

If Roe is overturned, abortion will be a criminal offense in at least 15 states where there is either already a trigger law waiting to put a total abortion ban in place automatically or where the state has signaled a desire to do so once Roe is gone. Until now, encroaching restrictions on abortion have tended to affect more marginalized communities while bypassing those of privilege, but full-scale state abortion bans will put everyone on a much more level playing field. The stakes would suddenly be much higher for Democrats who have kept quiet as abortion rights have been chipped away, and who will finally have to be either opponents or allies. And at the same time, a court decision striking down Roe could open the door for new allies in the moderate Republican voters—especially women—who support abortion rights but have consistently voted Republican because legal abortion appeared to still be safe.
It's an intelligent argument, but it's wrong.

"Ideological zeal" hasn't been enough to create a backlash against Republican gun laws in most states, even in the wake of mass shootings in Sandy Hook, Parkland, and elsewhere. It hasn't been enough to stop GOP voter suppression. It hasn't raised the minimum wage nationwide or in many red states. It hasn't led to a serious national commitment to slowing climate change.

All of these are areas in which there's no equivalent to Roe conveying the illusion that everything is all right. On all these issues, despite some victories by progressives, the right dominates.

Once Roe is truly dead, progressives will simply be overmatched in at least those 15 or so states where abortion will become fully illegal -- they're mostly very, very red states. Some pro-choice moderate Republican voters might rethink their party affiliation, but most will stick with the party that scares them every election season with the specter of socialism, Nancy Pelosi, and AOC.

The upholding of the new Texas law will probably have some impact on the next election cycle or two. Maybe it will be enough to save at least one house of Congress for the Democrats in 2022. But in the long run, it won't convert red states, or even some purple states, into havens for abortion rights. Only a massive, all-out nationwide campaign to discredit the Republican Party as evil and toxic stands any chance of changing the balance of power on abortion (and many other issues). And I don't see that coming anytime soon.

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