The Republican Party’s activities are sort of like waves that erode the shoreline slowly, but inexorably. They are trying to win the national dialogue by acting locally and they have very powerful allies who fight for them. Conservative groups of wealthy supporters are working behind the scenes to push the Conservative agenda wherever possible in the hopes that small actions will snowball into major policy changes.
We see this in the actions of the anti-abortion groups in North Dakota who are testing the limits of Roe v Wade by trying to pass laws that make it impossible to get an abortion. Since a fetal heartbeat is first heard at six weeks into a pregnancy, they have passed a law that makes abortion illegal after 6 weeks. This may have to travel to the Supreme Court before it is either upheld (which would essentially mean the end of Roe v. Wade) or tossed.
In a few key states the Republican Party is trying to change the way these states count their electoral votes. Instead of giving these votes in one bloc to the winner, they would be given proportionally to each candidate according to the number of votes received, a tactic that has been shown to favor the Republican Party.
Michigan has been in the vanguard of a war on labor unions and we are seeing an increasing number of right-to-work states who bypass unions.
Thomas B Edsall wrote about this “underground movement” of the Republican Party while also discussing whether the Republican Party is turning left. (NYT, March 27, 2013, A Republican Left Turn?) He suggests that even though some Republicans may be talking about becoming more inclusive, extremely conservative positions still hold sway in the party.
”The party, Kohut warned,
is increasingly dominated by a highly energized bloc of voters with extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues: the size and role of government, foreign policy, social issues, and moral concerns. They stand with the tea party on taxes and spending and with Christian conservatives on key social questions, such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. These staunch conservatives, who emerged with great force in the Obama era, represent 45 percent of the Republican base. According to our 2011 survey, they are demographically and politically distinct from the national electorate. Ninety-two percent are white. They tend to be male, married, Protestant, well off and at least 50 years old.”
He goes on to quote Grover Norquist on the subject:
“Grover Norquist, one of the leading architects, organizers and cheerleaders of what he calls the “leave us alone” coalition, is bubbling with enthusiasm.
Norquist told me in a phone interview that he thinks policies initiated by Republicans at the state and local levels, by breaking the link that joins individuals and families to government, are laying the groundwork for a continuing expansion of the conservative electorate.
Nearly two million children are now home-schooled, Norquist said, and their families have rejected government-run public schools and decided that they can do a better job on their own. Some eight million men and women have concealed-carry handgun permits, with the result that they feel “more self-assured, more independent, not as worried police will draw chalk marks around their body” and certainly less inclined, according to Norquist, to support a pro-gun-control Democratic Party. Along similar lines, Norquist notes, the number of poor students receiving vouchers to attend private schools is rising steadily as the passage of state right-to-work laws is gutting dues-paying membership in public employee unions, a financial mainstay of the Democratic Party.
“I’m reasonably confident that at the state level we are creating more people who want to be part of the ‘leave us alone coalition,’ ” Norquist said. He predicts that within the next decade, Republicans will take control of the Senate and regain the White House.”
Here is the link to Edsall’s article which has more to say and graphs to back it up.
The Republican Party also has the support of the corporations and the financial sector because they defend these groups even when doing so hurts middle class and poor Americans. We see how effective this is especially in the area of health care. Corporations with interests in the health care sector can increase prices of health care until we cry “uncle” and beg to have the Affordable Care Act repealed. These health care entities win two ways by raising prices: they increase their profits and they fight a plan that they perceive as counter to their interests (the people be damned, pre-existing conditions be damned, and no caps on lifetime care be damned).
Doesn’t it make you upset when you see this kind of stealth activity? On one level it can just appear to be strategy for the next election, but on another it can be seen as moving America to the right whether it wants to go there or not.
This is the view from the cheap seats.