Tuesday, November 15, 2022

In News: GOP Lackluster Performance and Effects of Covid; Limits of Abortion Extremism; Gerrymandering; Jericho March in Arizona; International Ramifications of U.S. Elections; Clarence Thomas

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan V. Last offers an intriguing reason Republicans are now underperforming politically, one I haven't seen elsewhere: quite simply, their approach to the pandemic killed off a lot of their voters. One reason the Republicans underperformed this election cycle: they killed off a lot of their own voters during Covid. As he says, "Republicans accounted for about 80 percent more of the excess deaths than Democrats."

As Kate Riga points out in "How Republicans Tipped The House Scales Long Before Votes Were Cast," what looks like Republican strength in the closely contested races for control of the House of Representatives has everything to do with racially gerrymandered maps approved by courts from the Supremes on down — though their legality is questionable:

If Republicans do win back the House by a handful of seats, it’ll be thanks to maps crafted months ago, in courtrooms and hearing rooms, before any voter cast a ballot.

Melissa Deckman, "The GOP may have reached the political limit of abortion extremism," comments on how the Republican party's stated goal of banning abortion nationwide is likely to become more and more of a drag on its appeal to voters in coming elections:

A majority of current House Republicans have backed legislation that defines fetal life at conception — a bill that experts believe would result in a national ban on abortion. While the chances of such legislation passing the Senate or surviving what is certainly a presidential veto by Joe Biden are slim to none, if House Republicans choose to introduce such a measure again in the next session of Congress, it sends a message to voters in 2024 that making abortion completely illegal remains a GOP priority

Such a move would certainly spell more political liability for the GOP in the years ahead. We find at PRRI that Americans are becoming more supportive — not less — of abortion rights over time, especially younger voters. Gen Z women, in particular, are trending far more pro-choice, and show up to vote at higher rates than their male counterparts. Many analysts credit strong midterm election turnout among Gen Z — who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats — as helping to stave off big Republican gains. It is important to remember as well that Generation Z will become nearly 30 percent of the electorate by 2032.

Simply put, as Americans confront the policy reality that abortion is no longer a national constitutional right, as opposed to a theoretical possibility strongly sought by abortion opponents within the Republican Party, its salience as a political issue is clearly shaping the voices of many voters today in a direction that some GOP leaders may not have anticipated.

Annika Brockschmidt and Thomas Lecaque, "So Close Yet Shofar," note the continuing strength of MAGA among Republicans, because it's all about belief — as illustrated by protest marches recently in Maricopa County, Arizona, where marchers are carrying crucifixes, blowing shofars, singing songs about the walls of Jericho tumbling down, and calling for the military to overturn the election:

[T]he gathering turned into something much more interesting, and much more clearly reminiscent of January 6th: The rally Wendy Rogers called for engaged in a “Jericho March.” You may remember the organization named Jericho March and its role in laying the groundwork for the January 6th insurrection. As God instructed the Israelites to walk seven times around Jericho and blow the shofar (horn) so that the walls would fall and everyone within the city would be slaughtered in God’s name, so believers have taken up the mantle of spiritual warfare and continued Jericho Marches in Maricopa County. The target that they are currently circling, which holds their enemies, is the center in which votes are being counted.  ...

A major reason MAGA is unlikely to just dissipate with electoral loss is that for many true believers it is linked to beliefs—religious and/or conspiratorial—that run far deeper than politics.

Heather Cox Richardson, "Letters from an American, November 14, 2022," notes the international implications of the strong Democratic showing in the recent elections: 

While many of us have been focusing on events here at home, the outcome of the election had huge implications for foreign policy. As today’s column by conservative columnist Max Boot of the Washington Post notes, “Republicans lost the election—and so did [Russian president Vladimir] Putin, MBS [Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman], and [former/incoming Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. 

Autocrats and hard-right leaders liked Trump at the head of the U.S. government, for he was far more inclined to operate transactionally on the basis of financial benefits, while Biden and his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, have advanced a foreign policy based on democratic values. ...

Indeed, Russia put its bots and trolls back to work before the election to weaken Biden in the hope that a Republican Congress would cut aid to Ukraine, as Republican leaders had suggested they would. 

In "Clarence Thomas Voted to Stop Congress from Looking at Kelli Ward's Phone," Charles Pierce takes a look at the … curious … vote of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas to shield the phone records of GOP Arizona state chair Kelli Ward from an inquiry of the Congressional January 6 committee regarding calls made by and to her about the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election:

It would be interesting indeed if, while examining Ward’s phone records, a number turned up belonging to the wife of a Supreme Court justice who had just voted to conceal said phone records from a legitimate congressional inquiry. It’s the little things that make the big things shine.

Corruption, thy name is Clarence. 

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