Wednesday, November 8, 2023

What happened last night.

Ohio voters put abortion rights into the state constitution. 

Yes: 56.6%  No:  43.4%

Voters took the issue out of the hands of Republican politicians, who kept attempting to pass abortion bans in Ohio. 

The amendment re-established the Roe v. Wade standard for the right to an abortion up to the time of fetal viability.

Republican officeholders and candidates have a problem, and they know it. Republican politicians trained the GOP primary electorate to demand a total ban on abortion. They let the justification for this be that the fertilized human egg was a person. The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision allowed Republican policy to grow in a hothouse of desire, without the constraint of real world consequences. GOP candidates saying they are "pro-life" became near universal. The GOP primary electorate pushed candidates to an absolute view. Then the Dobbs decision unlocked the gate to the promised land of abortion bans. 



Post-Dobbs election results sent an unmistakable message that abortion bans are unpopular. These warring lawn-signs show that Republicans were attempting to change the issue. The sign on the left does not say "Abortion is murder. Save babies." This man, standing at an intersection in Medford, shares the traditional message that justifies the Republican position on abortion. 
Day after day, out in the rain and cold.

Ohio Republicans pivoted their message from abortion bans to parental rights. The amendment said nothing about parental rights, but there was an angle to insert it. The amendment gave the right to each individual to seek an abortion. Nothing surprising there. But what if the pregnant individual were under age 18? If the right belongs to the pregnant individual, then a pregnant teen would not be required to consult with a parent. Ah-ha! A loophole! So this isn't about taking away a right, it is about protecting one, the right of a parent to consent to a teen daughter's abortion.

A second item on the ballot was one legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. It, too, passed, and with slightly higher numbers. This referendum, too, was about the right to body autonomy. 

I draw some lessons from the Ohio experience.

1. Thinking one has free rein not to consider the other side of a controversy leads policy into dangerous territory. Republicans developed extreme policy, which is backfiring.  Pre-Dobbs, Democrats made a similar mistake, taking the right to abortion for granted, not prioritizing the Supreme Court as an election issue. Nor did Democratic policy consider articulating limits on very late term abortions, which is now the point of vulnerability in GOP messaging.

2. Voters are protecting their freedom to do as they want against government compulsion. Republicans realized they were 180 degrees backward. Their problem was that pretending this was really about protecting a parental right wasn't credible. Parental meddling is meddling, and the real right at risk was a ban on abortion. Voters saw through that.

3. There is a caution here for Democrats who advocated mandatory public health interventions regarding Covid and new ones going forward. The don't-tread-on-me body autonomy issue cuts both ways. I hear more and more people deciding to refuse the new Covid shots. I happily got mine, but people have their reasons. Their body, their risks, their choice.

4. There is a second caution for Democrats as regards gun control. Even people well past childbearing age voted to keep abortion rights. People hate loss, be it of money or freedoms, and an abortion ban was a taking. Insofar as Democrats position gun control measures as taking away freedoms, they will run into the same headwind as Republicans faced.

Democrats can learn from that. They need to position gun regulation as a way to enable gun ownership for responsible people using guns in responsible ways. That may be a hard lesson to learn for Democrats who fear and dislike guns per se. But remember, for decades the NRA was all about gun safety. Gun safety is a positive. Gun prohibition is negative. It takes something away. 

Better to win elections with the right message than to be out in the rain and cold with the wrong one.


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6 comments:

Mike said...

The election must have been rigged. Those left-wing cultural elites were supposed to sink the Democrats. Conspiracy theorists need better ways of luring the gullible into their paranoid fantasies. Claims of anti-white, anti-male prejudice failed to bring them out in great enough numbers to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

Ed Cooper said...

I wonder if any of the plurality of Republican supporters in Congress of a Total Nationwide Ban of a Woman's Rght to Bodily Autonomy will pay heed to the Ohio results ? Specifically, the Theocratic RWNJ now holding the Speakers Gavel ?

Michael Trigoboff said...

I think the Republicans will definitely pay heed to today’s election results.

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
— Samuel Johnson

The 2024 election is coming right up.

Peter C. said...

I think it's a good thing that Johnson was elected Speaker of the House. He will bring his views into legislation for Republicans to pass. His ideas boil down to this: Jefferson was wrong. The separation of Church and State was a bad idea. So, he'll try to infuse his views and look to the Bible for answers. That will turn off a lot of people. That helps Democrats.

The people of the Middle East use their Bible as their Constitution. How did that turn out?

Ed Cooper said...

Nit as much attention being paid the fact that Ohio also kegalized Canbabis usage yesterday. A double whammy for Regressives. Maybe now Ohio can do do something about the extreme gerrymandering that sends bags of useless manure like pervert enabler Gymshorts Jordan to Congress time after time.

Mike said...

Republicans oppose government involvement in healthcare for fear it will compromise the patient-physician relationship – except in the case of women. They just don’t feel women and their physicians can make competent decisions about their care without input from politicians, particularly White male Republicans.

They pretend it’s a moral issue. They’d abandon the self-righteous fa├žade as quickly as they did their commitment to the principles of democracy if it were expedient, but then they'd lose the large segment of their base that wants the U.S. to be a Christian theocracy. It’s their cross to bear.