23 GOP-controlled states are becoming increasingly extreme with their 'conservative social agenda': report

23 GOP-controlled states are becoming increasingly extreme with their 'conservative social agenda': report
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Following the Trump era, Democrats control the White House and both branches of Congress — where they have a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate and a majority that shrunk in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 election. However, many state governments are still controlled by Republicans. And journalist Joan E. Greve, in an article published by The Guardian on June 15, examines the type of damage Republicans are inflicting at the state level.

"In 23 U.S. states, Republicans hold the governorship and the legislature, giving the party near total control to advance its policies," Greve explains. "This year, Republicans have used that power to aggressively push their conservative social agenda — taking aim at abortion access, transgender rights and gun safety, as well as voting laws."

Much has been written about all the voter suppression bills coming from Republicans in state legislatures, but voting rights aren't the only thing far-right Republicans have been going after with a vengeance. Greve notes that in Texas, South Carolina, Idaho and Oklahoma — all red states — Republicans have passed severe anti-abortion bills. The one in Texas bans abortion after about six weeks into a pregnancy.

Greve explains, "This trend of states approving increasingly extreme laws on issues like abortion and trans rights is alarming Democrats, who accuse Republicans of using their legislative power to target vulnerable communities…. Republican legislators' focus on social issues marks a shift from previous decades, when the party was more concentrated on economic priorities like small government and fiscal responsibility."

Under the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, states cannot legally have an outright abortion ban — and the Republican strategy has been to restrict abortion as much as possible at the state level. But with the High Court having moved more and more to the right, it is entirely possible that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. If Roe is overturned, many red states would no doubt pass statewide abortion bans — creating, for example, a scenario in which abortion might be illegal throughout Texas but legal across the state line in New Mexico, or legal in Illinois but illegal in neighboring Indiana.

One of the things that is encouraging Republicans to move even more to the right, Greve notes, is the fear of primary challenges. Greve points out that far-right Allen West has threatened a Republican gubernatorial primary challenge to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is up for reelection in 2022.

Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action, told The Guardian, "We know that the GOP is scared of primaries from fringe gun extremists. We're watching the politics play out as opposed to true policy beliefs."

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