Protection of Women’s Reproductive Rights & The Marginalization of the GOP.
Another important and resounding win for women’s reproductive rights transpired this week in Wisconsin. The state supreme court flipped from a conservative to liberal majority after nearly 60% of its voters – many of them young, women, and independents – spoke at the ballot box refuting the civil rights abuse of American women with the advent of the Supreme Court’s unconstitutional, partisan decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and hand the sovereignty of women’s bodies over to government control. This disaster led to a draconian 1849 trigger law in Wisconsin to make abortion a crime that a conservative court would have codified if victorious. However, the Republican war against women took another wounding this past Tuesday, as liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated conservative Dan Kelly and did so in impressive fashion – outdistancing President Joe Biden’s numbers that barely handed him the state in his 2020 victory and cutting into his opponent Donald Trump’s vote-totals in more Republican-leaning counties.
Protasiewicz won by 11 points. Do you know how much of a stomping that is in a battleground state? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is touting his 2022 re-election victory of 10% as if he is Genghis Khan and the reason he should run or present… and Florida is no longer a purple state. What happened in Wisconsin wasn’t merely an election but a loud, booming, resonant call to action.
This should send shockwaves throughout the Republican Party, but it likely won’t, since they exist in a fantasy media bubble led by the recently indicted conman Trump and fringe lunatics in congress who believe they exist to enact religious vengeance. But it is real, and it is happening at a rate that may decide the fate of the party for a coming generation, one that is rejecting its fascist leanings and might well expunge it to the dustbin of history.
To wit: Since the Dobbs decision, there have been resounding victories to codify women’s reproductive rights in blue states like Vermont and California, as well as the crucial purple state of Michigan, or denying the criminalization of abortion in deep red states like Kansas, Kentucky, Montana. The 2022 midterms were poised to be a “red wave” due to inflation, low approval numbers for President Biden, and the historic nature of a first-term president’s party taking a beating, but dramatically shifted that narrative mostly due to the blowback to Dobbs. Many state legislatures flipped to Democrat as governor’s races moved left. The general rejection of new Republicanism has taken its lumps and it shows no sign of stopping, at least for this (and maybe the next) generation. Then, history shows, people are willing to live in a less free world, because this is what they know. This can never take place.
While the survival of democracy and sensible gun restrictions were also concerns in the Wisconsin election, an overwhelming majority cited the 1849 law and the Dobbs decision as paramount to motivating turnout and eventual victory. This latest blow to fascism is important because it happened in a battleground state that will be crucial for deciding the next president of the United States. This became dire since Republicans showed their hand on how they will govern if given the national majority in 2025, when they unanimously voted in congress two days after taking power to strip women’s rights if given the chance. A chance they must never have. You think your rights are safe in your state? Not if Republicans take all three branches of government backed with a fixed and corrupt SCOTA. Wisconsin was an excellent sign that this is a less likely outcome – that is if we don’t become complacent. Complacency is what led to women being legally relegated to second-class citizenry. The fight and these results are only beginning to rectify this horror.
Since Dobbs, Republicans have taken historic beatings at the ballot box. Red state, blue state; does not matter. Even a majority of Republicans don’t want the government to decide what happens inside the body of American tax-paying citizens, so there is a slow and steady siphoning off of votes for a party that is already hanging by a thread, having only taken less-than-majority wins for the presidency once in two decades, and losing ground in the senate. Only redistricting and the south is keeping the Republican Party relevant. This must be the goal for anyone who wants to give women their sovereign rights back: Marginalize the GOP, as the defunct Whigs Party before them, and force them to realize they can no longer win on the national level if they do not relent on this issue.
In a recent article for The Cook Political Report titled “The Impact of Abortion on 2022 and Beyond,” Amy Walter cited a recent interview with Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg in which she said, “‘the gender gap with independents was huge” in 2022 not because these voters didn’t prioritize inflation but because “being scared about what was gonna happen to the country for the folks who voted Democratic mattered more than inflation.’” Greenberg went onto say, “I think the existential threat of Republicans to Democrats as it was presented in Dobbs drove turnout, drove voting Democratic, drove particularly independent women voting.”
Walter is correct in dissecting the framework of the Democratic argument for women’s reproductive rights as effectively making “the debate on abortion about ‘values,’ not the medical procedure itself.” The parsing of a Republican post 2022 mid-term election analysis found that “for many women, the issue was about much more than abortion. It was about how we [Republicans] view and respect women in America. This sentiment is deeply felt and highly nuanced.”
The vote to reject fascism in the Wisconsin state supreme court this week was a major victory to that end. Legal and systemic protections for 51% percent of our American citizenry is all that should matter now. If Republicans want a voice in our democracy for lesser taxes and international intervention or isolationism or this latest populist fad, then they must give up on fascism. If not, they will be relegated to a regional party that appeals mainly the southern portion of the U.S. Without Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and now trending blue states like Georgia and Arizona, not to mention the slow shift in North Carolina and even Texas, then there is no national political party, only a sad, marginalized philosophical cult. As an independent, I do not want this, but it is up to Republicans now to decide to stand with fascism or relent, and get back to governing in a democracy, not as a theological gang like ISIS.
There is a long road ahead in the fight for women’s civil rights, but so far it appears that the wind is blowing in the right direction.