Thursday, September 02, 2021


Dana Milbank is right:
Texas this week showed us what a post-democracy America would look like.

Thanks to a series of actions by the Texas legislature and governor, we now see exactly what the Trumpified Republican Party wants: to take us to an America where women cannot get abortions, even in cases of rape and incest; an America where almost everybody can openly carry a gun in public, without license, without permit, without safety training and without fingerprinting; and an America where law-abiding Black and Latino citizens are disproportionately denied the right to vote.

This is where Texas and other red states are going, or have already gone. It is where the rest of America will go, unless those targeted by these new laws — women, people of color and all small “d” democrats — rise up.
As Milbank notes, Texas Republicans just made it harder for Democrats to vote and easier for members of their own party to win elections.
... on Tuesday, the Texas legislature passed the final version of the Republican voting bill that bans drive-through and 24-hour voting, both used disproportionately by voters of color; imposes new limits on voting by mail, blocks election officials from distributing mail-ballot applications unless specifically requested; gives partisan poll watchers more leeway to influence vote counting; and places new rules and paperwork requirements that deter people from helping others to vote or to register. At least 17 states have adopted similar restrictions.
In 2018, when The Atlantic's Adam Serwer wrote about becoming a voter in Texas, the process was already difficult:
Registering to vote was simple enough. The post office had a form I could print out with my personal information and change of address. Because I don’t own a car, I had to Lyft to the Bexar County Elections Department and turn in my registration....

Obtaining an ID was another matter. Texas has one of the strictest voter-ID laws in the country. It is very selective about which IDs are valid—the Republican-controlled state legislature determined that military IDs and gun licenses are fine, but employee and student IDs are not—and to vote I would have to obtain a Texas state ID. I could get a driver’s license if I turned in my license from Washington, D.C., from where I’d recently moved, and as long as I brought proof of citizenship, proof of my Social Security number, proof of identity, and proof of residency. So I brought along my passport, W-2s, bank statement, insurance statement, phone bill, and D.C. driver’s license....

Texas billed me $35 for my new license; with transportation to and from DPS and the Bexar County elections office, the cost of my registering to vote in Texas topped $80. For anyone who is missing any of those documents and would need to obtain them, the price would be far higher. I work from home, so I have the privilege of being able to visit these facilities during working hours, and I can afford both the cost of transportation and the necessary documents. I live in the city, so public facilities are not difficult for me to get to. For people with more traditional jobs or who have less disposable income, these barriers stand much higher.

Moreover, Texas has all but banned voter-registration drives, which is how many low-income and minority voters are registered, through laws that bar anyone but a deputy voter registrar in a particular county from registering voters in that county. If they tried to register a voter in another county, even they would be breaking the law. From trying to register to casting a ballot, it is hard to vote in Texas, maybe harder than in any other state.
These are high barriers for poor people who don't own cars and who have blue-collar jobs. Texas assumes most of those people are Democrats.

Controlling who gets to vote works well for Texas Republicans. But even some members of their own party disagree with what the party's officeholders do with their power. Milbank writes:
On Wednesday, a Texas law went into effect that bans abortions later than six weeks.... Already on the books in Texas is a “trigger” law that automatically bans all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade....

Also Wednesday, a new law went into effect in Texas, over the objections of law enforcement, allowing all Texans otherwise allowed to own guns to carry them in public, without a license and without training....

Texans overwhelmingly object to permitless carry. Fully 57 percent of Texas voters oppose such a law and only 36 percent support it, according to a June poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune....

Texans also oppose banning all abortions if Roe is overturned, with 53 percent against a ban and 37 percent for one. Women oppose the ban, 58 percent to 33 percent. A narrow plurality (46 percent to 44 percent) oppose the six-week ban, too.
According to this poll, 57% of Texans oppose permitless carry -- including 34% of Republicans. The 53% of Texans who oppose a ban on all abortions if Roe is overturned include 28% of Republicans.

But does legislative extremism make more moderate Republicans reconsider their support for their party's politicians? No. A recent Quinnipiac poll said thst 82% of Republican voters think Greg Abbott deserves reelection.

It might just be that they hate Democrats. In a Dallas Morning News/University of Texas survey conducted in June, Abbott beat O'Rourke by 12 points, but he beat actor Matthew McConaughey, who's been talked about as a possible gubernatorial candidate and whose politics are unclear, by only 1 point. So maybe Abbott has the support of people who disagree with what his party is doing because those people have been conditioned to hate Democrats.

Preventing Democrats from voting helps keep Republicans in power, but Republicans also benefit from the support of moderate Republicans who believe that right-wing extremism is a small price to pay for deliverance from the Democratic Menace.

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