Democrats control Washington — but the GOP is pushing a Trumpified agenda in the states
Republicans who control state legislatures in red states and swing states have been drawing vehement criticism from Democrats for the countless voter suppression bills that they have been promoting. Journalist Ronald Brownstein, in an article published by The Atlantic this week, agrees that voter suppression in those states is a problem. But he argues that when it comes to making the quality of life worse in red states and swing states, voter suppression bills are only the tip of the iceberg.
"It's not just voting rights," Brownstein explains. "Though this year's proliferation of bills restricting ballot access in red states has commanded national attention, it represents just one stream in a torrent of conservative legislation poised to remake the country. GOP-controlled states — including Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Iowa and Montana — have advanced their most conservative agenda in years, and one that reflects Donald Trump's present stamp on the Republican Party."
Brownstein continues, "Across these states and others, Republican legislators and governors have operated as if they were programming a prime-time lineup at Fox News. They have focused far less on the small-government, limited-spending and anti-tax policies that once defined the GOP than on an array of hot-button social issues — such as abortion, guns and limits on public protest — that reflect the cultural and racial priorities of Trump's base."
The "lurch right in Republican-controlled states," according to Brownstein, includes some "economic issues" but is, on the whole, reflected by culture-war battles.
"Half a dozen states — including Tennessee, Montana, Iowa, and Texas — have passed legislation allowing gun owners to carry their weapons without a permit," Brownstein observes. "Texas, South Carolina, Idaho and Oklahoma have passed legislation banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, after about six weeks of pregnancy — before women typically even know they are pregnant. Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas also passed virtually complete bans on abortion. Arizona approved an extremely restrictive bill that includes barring abortions for certain genetic conditions."
Brownstein adds, "Ten states have adopted about two dozen laws in total targeting transgender individuals, including legislation in seven states that bars transgender athletes from competing in school sports."
Democrats presently control the White House and have majorities in both branches of Congress — the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives — and according to Brownstein, Republicans are responding at the state level by moving even more to the right.
"The other pattern evident in the surge of conservative legislation is the continuing separation of red and blue America," Brownstein observes. "As (President Joe) Biden and the Democrats controlling Congress are advancing an ambitious progressive agenda at the national level, almost all of the red states are responding with what amounts to a collective cry of defiance. On a lengthening list of issues, the rules that govern daily life in red and blue states are diverging — and at an accelerating pace."
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