Monday, May 30, 2022

"My Hope Has Had Its Ass Kicked"

The stakes couldn't be any higher.

  • The former Republican president attempted a coup to overturn the last election and continues to claim that it was rigged.
  • Followers of that president stormed the Capitol in an attempt to violently disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
  • The racist great replacement theory has become a GOP talking point.
  • Conservatives are openly patterning themselves after the fascism implemented by Viktor Orban in Hungary.
  • Republican-appointed  Supreme Court justices are about to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Twenty-six red states are certain or likely to institute abortion bans once Roe is overturned.
  • Republicans are openly talking about overturning Supreme Court rulings on access to contraception and marriage equality.
  • Red states continue to pass laws to suppress the vote, while Republicans in Congress refuse to fix the Voting Rights Act.
  • Even as guns have become the number one cause of death for children, Republicans continue to reject any kind of common sense gun safety reform. 
  • Republicans have no plan to address climate change, with many of them calling the science a hoax.
That is what the Republican Party stands for as we head into the midterm elections this November. Frankly, I am shocked that the projected outcome is even close. Regardless of what you think about Democratic proposals, at least they're not in the business of trying to destroy our democracy.

I've read (and written) articles that attempt to explain what is happening. But to be honest, I don't think that any of us have really grappled with what is going on with voters these days. No matter how radical the Republican Party gets, their supporters don't just remain loyal, but seem to be salivating for even more extremism. 

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about the idea of collective insanity. Back in 2017, renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton told Bill Moyers that Donald Trump was spreading a kind of "malignant normality."
What we put forward as self-evident and normal may be deeply dangerous and destructive...For example, Donald Trump lies repeatedly. We may come to see a president as liar as normal. He also makes bombastic statements about nuclear weapons, for instance, which can then be seen as somehow normal. In other words, his behavior as president, with all those who defend his behavior in the administration, becomes a norm. We have to contest it, because it is malignant normality.

That interview took place years before the bulleted events above. Do you want to see how much worse malignancy normality has become? Here's a sitting member of Congress who is all but guaranteed to win re-election in November. 

Or how about the guy who has been endorsed for the Georgia Senate seat by both the establishment and insurgent wings of the Republican Party?

That's what passes for "normal" in Republican politics these days. And yet, according to the generic ballot polling aggregate at FiveThirtyEight, Republicans lead Democrats by almost two points. 

Something is seriously wrong with our country right now. Unlike malignant cancer, this disease doesn't seem to be spreading, which is what counts for good news. But it has a grip on a large portion of the electorate and is burrowing deeper as it gets even more deadly. Forgive me if I sound cynical, but as Cory Booker said recently, "My hope has had its ass kicked." 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

How the Radical Right's Embrace of the Great Replacement Theory Is Tied to Overturning Roe v. Wade

There is a lot of important news coming at us pretty fast these days. But David Roberts nailed it!

The CPAC conference in Hungary comes on the heels of the two biggest stories of the last month: (1) the leak of Alito's draft demonstrating that the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, and (2) the shooting in Buffalo, NY by an adherent of the great replacement theory. Speaking from Hungary, Matt Schlapp (head of CPAC) tied the two stories together.

The GOP has come up with a solution for the “great replacement” it fears is threatening to replace traditional white Republican voters with immigrants: an abortion ban...

“Roe v. Wade is being adjudicated at the Supreme Court right now, for people that believe that we somehow need to replace populations or bring in new workers, I think it is an appropriate first step to give the…enshrinement in law the right to life for our own unborn children,” [Schlapp] said...

“If you say there is a population problem in a country, but you’re killing millions of your own people through legalized abortion every year, if that were to be reduced, some of that problem is solved,” Schlapp said. 

Hungary is the European country where "the great replacement theory reigns supreme." Viktor Orban's response has been to promote "procreation not immigration." So he's been tying the two together for years now. That is the basic idea behind "The Handmaid's Tale" taking root in the 21st Century.

A lot of the stories I've seen lately tie this fascination with Orban's policies in Hungary to the fact that Tucker Carlson took his talk show on the road there last fall. Sometimes those stories acknowledge that it was one of the thought leaders of the new right - Rod Dreher - who talked Carlson into the idea. But this melding of the radical right with Orban's great replacement policies started long before that.

In March 2019, the Hungarian Embassy hosted a "Make Families Great Again" conference at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Attendees at this invitation-only even included White House special assistant Katy Talento, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp (Matt Schlapp's wife) and several members of Congress.

The Trump Administration sent representatives to the International Conference on Family Policy that was held in Budapest in September 2019. There, Trump officials lauded Hungary’s “procreation, not immigration” policies.

But the Trump administration didn't just participate in conferences. HHS provided $5.1 million Title X family-planning funds to an organization called Obria, which aims to be a pro-life alternative to Planned Parenthood.

In 2015, Obria’s founder and current chief executive explained, “When [Europe’s] nations accepted contraception and abortion, they stopped replacing their population. Christianity began to die out. And, with Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them, and now the culture of Europe is changing.” She warned that America is “on the same track as Europe” and that “[i]n only two of the past 40 years have we replaced our population.”

After leaving office, former Vice President Pence got in on the action by attending the Budapest Demographic Summit last September.

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that he is hopeful the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court created during his and President Donald Trump's administration will soon overturn abortion rights in the United States.

Pence spoke at a forum devoted to demographics and family values in Budapest, Hungary, where conservative leaders from central Europe expressed their anxieties about falling birthrates in the Western world and discussed ways to reverse the trend.

“We see a crisis that brings us here today, a crisis that strikes at the very heart of civilization itself. The erosion of the nuclear family marked by declining marriage rates, rising divorce, widespread abortion and plummeting birth rates,” Pence said.
As I've written before, this is the tie that binds the radical right's Christian nationalism, racism, and misogyny. They are making it very clear by saying it out loud and demonstrating that they're willing to destroy democracy (and, at minimum, justify violence) in their quest to implement their goals. Anyone who ignores the threat simply isn't paying attention. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Lie Embedded in Carlson's Great Replacement Theory

Following the terrorist shooting in Buffalo on Saturday, Tucker Carlson initially distanced himself from the great replacement theory that obviously motivated the shooter. But then on Tuesday night, he actually tried to turn the tables and suggest that it was Democrats who embraced the theme of replacement - I kid you not!

Here's Carlson's opening:
You've heard a lot about the great replacement theory recently. It is everywhere in the last two days and we are still not sure exactly what it is. Here's what we do know for a fact. There is a strong political component to the Democratic Party's immigration policy. We are not guessing this. We know this. And we know it because they have said so. They have said it again and again and again. 

It's almost amusing to hear him say that he's not sure exactly what the great replacement theory is all about - especially since he's talked about it over 400 times on his show. But then he claimed that the Democratic Party's immigration policy is all about replacement. Carlson goes on to provide video clips and references to articles, claiming that they make his point. 

One example will suffice to demonstrate the lie that is embedded in Carlson's claim. He points to an article by Ana Navarro from back in 2013 titled "Old, White, Straight, Male Voters Ain't What They Used to Be." Here's what she wrote:

The evidence is everywhere and starkly undeniable after the 2012 presidential race: old, white, straight, male voters just aren’t enough to win elections anymore. Mitt Romney got the highest ever percentage of these voters, and the lowest ever percentage of the minority vote. He lost. The demographic trends show that the minority vote in the United States will continue to grow in numbers and influence. Unless you are under the influence of hallucinogens, it is hard to imagine future scenarios were the Republican Party can win national elections if we do not succeed in attracting more than just the “usual suspects” to the Republican tent.

Of course, Navarro is a Republican political consultant and her take was echoed by Senator Lindsey Graham who said, "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” But it was Jeb Bush who was the first one to sound the alarm during a 2012 interview with Joe Hagan.

Sitting down across from me, he assumes his role as party Cassandra, warning of the day when the Republicans’ failure to tap an exploding Hispanic population will cripple its chances at reclaiming power—starting in Texas, the family seat of the House of Bush.

“It’s a math question,” he tells me. “Four years from now, Texas is going to be a so-called blue state. Imagine Texas as a blue state, how hard it would be to carry the presidency or gain control of the Senate.”

Following Romney's loss to Obama in 2012, that was the prevailing "wisdom" among Republicans, as was outlined in their autopsy

In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming...As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, "You can't call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We've chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home."

In other words, almost a decade ago it was Republicans who were noticing that, unless they did a better job of reaching out to Hispanics and other "minority groups," their party was doomed. 

Contrary to what Carlson suggested, the math on that is not dependent on Democrats bringing in illegal foreigners to replace white people, as the Washington Post reported back in 2018 (emphasis mine).

Experts say the main driver of diversification in the United States is the native-born Hispanic population, which grew by about 5 million from 2010 to 2016, just as the native-born white population shrank by about 400,000 over the same period, according to Census Bureau data...

“You can shut the door to everyone in the world and that won’t change,” said Roberto Suro, an immigration and demography expert at the University of Southern California...“If your primary concern is that the American population is becoming less white, it’s already too late.”

According to Pew Research, the Asian-American population is growing even faster.

Asian Americans recorded the fastest population growth rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States between 2000 and 2019. The Asian population in the U.S. grew 81% during that span, from roughly 10.5 million to a record 18.9 million, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, the last before 2020 census figures are released. Furthermore, by 2060, the number of U.S. Asians is projected to rise to 35.8 million, more than triple their 2000 population.

Most demographers predict that non-Hispanic white people will no longer be a majority in the U.S. in about 20 years. That cake has already been baked - regardless of what happens with immigration reform. 

Those are the facts. And short of deporting U.S. citizens (or suppressing their votes) there's nothing Tucker Carlson and his white supremacist allies can do about it. So they conjured up a lie about hordes of brown immigrants invading our country from across the southern border as a way to gin up the kind of fear that leads to violence.

On a somewhat related note, Simon Rosenberg does an excellent job of debunking the idea that Democrats are losing the Hispanic vote. He points to the fact that the Hispanic vote went from 6 million in 2000 to 16.5 million in 2020. With that, the Democratic margin went from 1.6 million more votes in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2020. As Simon suggests, "A slightly smaller slice of a bigger pie means you still have more pie. In this case lots more pie." Results in the four heavily Hispanic states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico tell the tale.

In 16 years (2004-2020) Dems have picked up 31 Electoral College votes, 6 Senate seats, 8 House seats and 3 governorships in these 4 southwestern states. These Congressional gains are the reason Dems have majorities today in the Senate and House.

With so much political commentary focused on white working class voters in the Rust Belt, that story has been almost completely overlooked, but it speaks volumes about why Republicans are so afraid of "the browning of America." 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Can Democrats Work With the "New Right" on Anti-Trust Issues?

During the 2020 presidential primary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren focused on the need to break up big tech companies. During a CNN town hall, she provided a helpful explanation for how a move like that would benefit people who shopped online at Amazon. 

As Warren talked about the need to break up Amazon, Google and Facebook, another presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, provided an important qualification.

“I don’t care if it’s Facebook, the pharma industry, even the agricultural industry. We’ve had a problem in America with corporate consolidation that is having really ill effects,” Booker said on ABC News’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

But, Booker added, “I don’t think that a president should be running around pointing at companies and saying breaking them up without any kind of process here. It’s not me and my own personal opinion about going after folks."

That distinction is gaining even more importance as the so-called "New Right" are in the process of using government power to attack specific companies as part of their culture wars. 

For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis specifically targeted DisneyWorld because they spoke out against his "don't say gay" bill. He did so by passing legislation that attempts to remove their special district status. While some liberals might applaud the end result, the democratic (as opposed to fascist) approach would have been to decouple the move from the culture wars and eliminate all of Florida's 1,844 special districts - like the one covering The Villages in central Florida. 

Two of my former colleagues at the Washington Monthly recently approached the possibility of Democrats being able to work with the New Right on issues like anti-trust.

The group includes many younger conservatives who combine contempt for the usual targets of conservative bile (the media, Hollywood, universities) with a brief against the great monopolies of surveillance capitalism (Facebook, Google, Twitter), all while embracing, in many instances, a kind of white Christian identity politics. After hearing presentations from Rachel Bovard, Amanda Milius, Christopher Rufo, and other Millennials at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, David Brooks wrote about witnessing, in the new conservative movement, a “fusing of the culture war and the class war into one epic Marxist Götterdämmerung,” and pronounced himself terrified.

Should we also be terrified? Emphatically, yes! But there are still startling points of actual and potential overlap emerging between today’s New Right and New Left.

One of those areas of potential overlap is, indeed, anti-trust legislation. But the authors failed to mention the important distinction made by Booker. To the extent that the "New Right" wants to use government to target specific institutions/corporations that don't comply with their racist, sexist, homophobic agenda, that is nothing short of fascism and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

Senator Josh Hawley is an odious example of the threat posed by the "New Right." In an attempt to keep pace with DeSantis, the senator from Missouri has introduced a bill to strip Disney of its copyrights in a move that has been called "blatantly unconstitutional." While Hawley tried to avoid language that made it obvious he was targeting Disney, "the retroactive provision of the bill applies to any entertainment company with a market capitalization above $150 billion. Disney’s market cap is $196 billion." Hawley's public statements also make his intentions perfectly clear.

“Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists,” said Hawley, who once clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts. “It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”

On the other hand, Hawley signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (yes, you read that right). The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would address the issue identified by Warren in the video above.

The bill prohibits dominant platforms, defined by criteria including how many users they have and their market cap, from discriminating against other businesses that rely on its services, in what’s sometimes referred to as self-preferencing.

That means, for example, Amazon could not simply decide to list its own private label products higher in its search ranking than third-party rivals’ listings. And, similarly, Apple and Google could not unfairly rank their own apps higher than rivals in their own mobile app stores. The same principle would apply to results from Google’s general search engine.

Twelve senators have signed on to co-sponsor the legislation - including six Democrats and six Republicans. It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 16-6, with five Republicans (Grassley, Graham, Cruz, Hawley and Kennedy) voting in favor of the bill. The committee’s House counterpart has advanced a similar bill, while the Biden administration has offered support from both the Commerce and Justice Departments. With mainstream media practically salivating over the need for bipartisanship, it is unfathomable to me why this piece of legislation is being almost completely ignored. It's a pretty BFD (as POTUS might say).

What Klobuchar's bill demonstrates is that there are places where the so-called "New Right and New Left" can work together. As odious as some of those Republican senators might be, if they want to sign on to legislation drafted by Democrats to address anti-trust issues...fine by me. 

But make no mistake - we'll fight them every step of the way on their attempts to manipulate this issue in order to "Orbanize" our democracy.  

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Alito's Embrace of Junk Science Will Make Several Forms of Contraception Illegal

The potential that Roe vs Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court in a few weeks has led to a lot of speculation about what comes next. All of the possibilities need to be taken seriously, but when it comes to the radical right going after contraceptives, that move is actually already underway - and the path was laid by Justice Samuel Alito's embrace of junk science in the Hobby Lobby case. 

If you remember, Hobby Lobby claimed a religious exemption to the Obamacare mandate that companies provide coverage of birth control in their health care plans. But it wasn't all forms of birth control they objected to.

The Affordable Care Act says that employer-provided insurance must include essential health benefits, including all medically authorized forms of contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to this requirement, because they believe that four common forms of birth control—two versions of the “morning-after pill” and two kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs)—are “abortifacients.” In other words, the owners of Hobby Lobby think these contraceptives end pregnancies rather than prevent them. And they believe that is tantamount to ending a life.

To understand what's going on with that it is important to know that, for many on the radical right, "life" begins at the moment an egg is fertilized. It takes about a week for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus, which is when the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) says that pregnancy begins. That is because most fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant in the uterus on their own.

The owners of Hobby Lobby claimed that the four forms of birth control they didn't want to cover (Plan B, Ella, hormonal IUDs, and copper IUDs) are abortifacients because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. That is a perfect example of junk science

[B]oth Plan B and ella work primarily by preventing ovulation; they can work for up to five days after sex, because sperm can survive in a woman’s body for that long. Both the hormonal and copper IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Of all these methods, only the copper IUD, when used as an emergency contraceptive, appears capable of preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. However, even then it would not be considered an abortion under standard medical and legal definitions.
Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, which included this statement:
[W]e must decide whether the challenged…regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do. The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.
Alito went on to write that these four contraceptive methods “may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus." Alito didn't reach that conclusion out of ignorance of the science because, in a footnote, he acknowledged that Hobby Lobby’s religious-based assertions are contradicted by science-based findings. Nevertheless, in a conflict between religion and science, Alito went with religion.

Since Alito's draft overturning Roe was leaked, red states all over the country are resurrecting or passing legislation to outlaw abortions. It is important to note that many of them claim that life begins at fertilization - after which abortion will be illegal. And since Alito embraced junk science, he set a Supreme Court precedent that these four forms of birth control are abortifacients. So in many states, they will be illegal too. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Biden: "This Is No Longer Your Father's Republican Party"

For quite a while now, one of my takes on what's been happening with the Republican Party over the last few years is that things reached an inflection point for the GOP when Barack Obama was elected president. That is because, by the end of George W. Bush's two terms, their entire agenda - both foreign and domestic - was in shambles as a result of things like the Great Recession, two wars in the Middle East, and the debacle of the response to Hurricane Katrina. 

As a result, when Bush left office, his approval rating was historically low at 27.8. Of the previous 12 presidents, the only one who even came close was Richard Nixon, whose approval rating was 24.8 when he resigned over the whole Watergate scandal. In other words, by 2008, the Republican brand was toast.

At that point, it would have made sense for Republicans to step back and re-examine their policy priorities, just as Democrats had done after the 1972 election. But it probably wouldn't have surprised anyone if the GOP had simply doubled-down on their policy priorities with new messaging (ie, continue to be the post-truth party). They did neither. Michael Grunwald explained what they DID do:
[They held] secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor (in December 2008) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (in early January 2009) in which they laid out their daring (though cynical and political) no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency. “If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.”

The calculation GOP leaders made was that they didn't need an agenda. They would simply obstruct and fan the flames of xenophobia to discredit the country's first African American president. That's what led to Trump and the whole MAGA era. 

It's been clear for a while now that Mitch McConnell still wants to avoid adopting an actual Republican agenda. But there are two sides that are rising up in protest to put one forward. 

One the one hand, there is Senator Rick Scott's agenda that - for the most part - reasserts the failed Republican policies of trickle-down economics, destruction of the social safety net, and dog-whistle racism. Scott probably thinks that enough time has passed that voters will have forgotten what a disaster that agenda turned out to be. 

But the other Republican agenda is even worse. It is being put forward by people like Senator Josh Hawley, J.D. Vance, Tucker Carlson, and Governor Ron DeSantis. While they won't say so openly, their approach is to completely abandon the Ronald Reagan mantra about government being the problem. As I've pointed out before, they want to use government to fight the culture wars. 

Over at The Federalist, Christopher Bedford has written that J.D. Vance's victory in the Ohio Republican senate primary is a sign that what he calls "the new right" is winning against "the establishment" in the battle for control of the Republican agenda. 

[T]here are signs that together, we’re beginning to earn wins: that the rock of the permanent, institutional left-wing-revolution is showing cracks. In the past month alone, we’ve seen a bellwether American state choose an outspent New Right candidate [Vance] to run for Senate, adding a young face and new voice to conservative leadership.

We’ve seen elected politicians in Florida stand up and say, no, you won’t get corporate carve-outs and perks, and use those to attack the parents and children of our state without consequence...

And we’ve seen Senate leaders sit silently, or chuckle along with reporters, as they anticipate the New Right’s failings. We’ve seen columnists like Stephens complain that curtailing one of the world’s most barbarous abortion regimes “would be a radical, not conservative, choice.”

That’s not surprising, though. These men aren’t actually conservatives: they’re simple institutionalists. And in an age where America’s institutions — her colleges and universities, corporate media, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, hospitals and medical associations, Pentagon, Hollywood, children’s entertainment — are dominated by the left, their acquiescing makes them what M. Stanton Evans derisively called “silent partners in the work of destruction”; “silent partners” in the left’s permanent revolution.

I suspect that Bedford is right - the "new right" is winning this battle. And while, as a Democrat I don't have a dog in this fight, it is important to keep in mind that our democracy is threatened by the side that is openly embracing the tactics used by Viktor Orban in Hungary.

When President Biden said that this is no longer your father's Republican Party, he was absolutely right. So was David Frum when he wrote that "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy." That is the path the GOP is choosing we speak.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Only Way to Fight Back Against a Radicalized Supreme Court

My head is swirling with reactions to the leaked draft of Justice Samuel Alito's ruling that, if legitimate, with overturn Roe vs. Wade. While it's likely that some of the wording might get changed before a final version is released by the court, I don't think there's much doubt that four justices are prepared to join Alito's draft. 

One of my reactions is to note that a lot of people are suggesting that those of us who are pro-choice must organize to protect women's reproductive freedom. But if Alito's draft - which specifically sends this issue back to the states - is legitimate, it's too late for that, as the Guttmacher Institute previously pointed out.

If Roe were overturned or fundamentally weakened, 22 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible...

By the time the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Mississippi case, there will be nine states in this group with an abortion ban still on the books from before Roe v. Wade, 13 states with a trigger ban tied to Roe being overturned, five states with a near-total abortion ban enacted after Roe, 11 states with a six-week ban that is not in effect and one state (Texas) with a six-week ban that is in effect, one state with an eight-week ban that is not in effect and four states whose constitutions specifically bar a right to abortion. Some states have multiple types of bans in place.

In those 22 states, it would take affirmative legislation to strike down those bans in order to protect a woman's right to chose. Given that they are all either red or swing states, that isn't going to happen. So if you live in one of them, women's reproductive rights will be gone once Alito's opinion is released. There are an additional four states that, given their political composition and history, are likely to ban abortion as soon as possible.

So to be completely clear, we will NOT be in a position to "protect" women's reproductive rights, but to fight to get them back. That is a monumental shift that we all have to grapple with. 

Given the current make-up of the Supreme Court with its lifetime appointments, the place to fight back won't be in the courts. That is why this part of President Biden's reaction to the leaked draft is so important:
[I]f the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.

To bolster that argument, it is important to remember how we got here. Ever since Barack Obama was elected president, Mitch McConnell's plan has been to abuse the filibuster to obstruct the passage of legislation. Even when Republicans were in the majority and Trump was president, McConnell was content to neuter congress on pretty much everything other than tax cuts for his wealthy donors.

Meanwhile, the Republican leader of the senate set out to stack the courts. We all watched as he cynically refused to even hold hearings (much less a vote) on Obama's nominee. That wasn't because of some issue with Merrick Garland. Republicans like the late Senator Orrin Hatch had previously claimed that Garland would be a consensus nominee before Obama chose him. Instead, it was a blatant attempt to stack the court with extremist conservatives, which McConnell went on to claim as his "most consequential political accomplishment."

What we're now faced with is a neutered congress and an empowered Supreme Court. That is exactly what McConnell's plan was all about and we're now experiencing the disastrous consequences of that strategy.

Given that it will takes years (and possibly even decades) to rebalance the court, the one way to fight back is to ensure that pro-choice Democrats keep their majority in the House and make significant gains in the Senate. Since gaining a 67-seat majority is unlikely, the goal should be to elect Democrats who are willing to overturn the filibuster and pass legislation that restores women's reproductive freedom. 

The fact is that every election in every state will be critical, including those for governor and state legislators. That is because Alito's draft makes it clear that overturning Roe is just the beginning of what this Supreme Court will attempt to do. He claims that, while the Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment (on which the Roe decision was based) might guarantee some rights that aren't mentioned explicitly in Constitution, such rights have to be "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." That is a terrifying position.

In other words, all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been spilled over the years in order to build "a more perfect union" could be sent down the drain by this group of extremists on the Supreme Court. That is the gauntlet that has been thrown down by the radical right at this moment in time. It is what will be on the ballot in every election going forward - starting with this November - as long as they hold a solid majority on the Supreme Court.

The Republican reaction to this news provides a slight glimmer of hope. Rather than celebrating the seeming demise of Roe, they are entirely focused on ginning up outrage over the leak of Alito's draft. In other words, they're signaling that, coming six months prior to the midterms, this ruling is very likely to upset the dynamics that had them counting the days until they won majorities. It is now incumbent on us to ensure that their newly-found concern is justified.

The root of the problem is a theology that enables sexual abuse

As someone who was raised in a white evangelical Christian family and church, it deeply saddens me every time we hear that another leader o...