May 19, 2024

of touch means out of power

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Out of touch means out of power
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON — A special election to fill a House seat in upstate New York is fresh evidence that Democrats are poised to confound conventional wisdom and exceed expectations in the November midterm elections. Typically, the party in power loses seats, but recent polls show Democrats ahead in key Senate races along with a fighting chance to keep their House majority.
          Democrat Pat Ryan, a West Point grad and former Army officer, crushed his Republican opponent in a newly drawn district. The surprise result in the newly drawn district has analysts rethinking their assumption that the Republicans would win control of the House.
          The reason for the recalibration is the abortion issue and how it has energized voters. The GOP has run against abortion rights for decades, with many voters assuming it was a futile fight, believing the Supreme Court would never overturn Roe, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.
          Even if the Court acted, many Republicans said, the issue would simply be returned to the states. No big deal.
          But then it happened, and it turns out to be a very big deal. Republicans in red states, and Republican legislatures in blue states, are doubling down and tripling down to make access to abortion almost impossible, even for rape and incest victims, and girls too young to safely give birth.
          There is talk of a nationwide ban on the procedure if Republicans gain more power in Congress, and GOP candidates auditioning for the 2024 presidential election are outdoing each other over how far they can crack down on women seeking an abortion, and on providers still willing and able to perform this service.
          It is a nightmare scenario that could sink Republicans at the ballot box in November. More than 70 percent of the public support abortion rights with appropriate restrictions. A political party whose policies directly contradict such public sentiment on this scale cannot long survive.
          What happened in Kansas in early August can happen again. If voters in deeply red Kansas went to the polls to voice their support for abortion remaining legal, is there any reason to think that voters in Florida will behave any differently?
          Democrat Charlie Crist, who will face Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the November election, is betting his come-from-behind bid will succeed due to voter anger over the GOP’s abortion ban crusade. Crist, who governed Florida as a Republican before changing parties, vetoed an anti-choice bill when he held the office and is making the issue a centerpiece of his campaign.
          And if Florida proves to be another Kansas, it would be an earthquake for 2024, stopping DeSantis and other Republicans now eyeing the presidency.
          Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with their rhetoric on abortion. They can’t reverse themselves, and the Supreme Court with its current 6 to 3 balance favoring conservatives isn’t about to step in.
          Reproductive choice is not just a woman’s issue. It is central to how we build families and communities, and how we regard and value each other. Anti-abortion activists have taken their beliefs to such an extreme that in the end they may force a reckoning in Congress.
          That reckoning is underway, beginning with Kansas and circling through that upstate New York district. What twists and turns it takes will become evident in November with Florida potentially the cornerstone of an election that will demonstrate what happens when a political party takes away a constitutional freedom that was in place for almost 50 years.
          A political party so out of touch with mainstream public opinion cannot long survive.
          See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2022 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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