Culms: Kansas abortion vote shows populism can work for Democrats too

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. he seemed to enjoy the nasty things he got from the friendly audience abroad when he’s been bullying recently the names of foreign leaders, as well as Prince Harry for criticizing a Supreme Court decision he wrote depriving Americans of their federal constitutional right to abortion.

However, to most Americans, Alito’s antics did not seem funny at all. And now voters in Kansas—Kansas! The red-red state, which has not sent a single Democrat to the US Senate since Franklin Roosevelt was first elected, has given its verdict to Alito’s handiwork: no. At 18 percentage points, they voted this week to keep the right to abortion in their state constitution.

Take it, Sam.

The unelected Alito, however, has a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court and says he doesn’t care about the public reaction to his conservative decisions that go beyond the mainstream. If he wrote in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, judges can’t worry about such “outside influences.”

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Jackie Culms

Jackie Culms brings a critical eye to the national political scene. She has many years of experience in the White House and Congress.

Do you know who is concerned? Republicans who are not in office for life and who are up for election or re-election this fall. They and their curators really should care what the public thinks. And the response of voters in Kansas — the first electoral test of the issue since a 5-4 court ruling in June overturning half a century of abortion right precedents — now suggests a potential breakwater against the red wave that Republicans were counting on in November for their control of Congress and the state’s top offices.

Polls showed that the backlash against Dobbs was emboldening Democrats and the independent left even before Kansas voted. Whether that anger will offset American concerns about inflation and President Biden’s unpopularity is a big question mark. However, according to my report, Democrats have suddenly become more confident that they can maintain a majority in the Senate, and Republicans have become more worried.

Republicans still have a big lead to win a majority in the House of Representatives, but no less than former GOP chairman Michael Steele and George W. Bush political strategist Matthew Dowd. predicted on MSNBCafter Kansas, that Democrats could hold power in both houses.

But few other states are expected to have abortion rights on the ballot this fall to similarly act as a magnet to draw pro-choice voters to the polls. The challenge for Democrats is to get Republican candidates to personify a threat to reproductive freedom either in the states or in Congress, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has joined the call for a nationwide ban. “Republicans make it very easy,” says Democratic pollster Jeff Garin, given the far-right extremism of the candidates they are running.

The Democratic Senate Majority PAC that Garin works for is now broadcasting video advertising attacking Blake Masters, winner of this week’s Arizona Republican primary, to run against a Democratic senator. Mark Kelly for supporting a national anti-abortion law without the exception of rape, incest, or the life of the pregnant woman. Cary Lake, Republican nominee for Governor of Arizona, welcomed Supreme Court for opening “a new chapter in life … where we help women become the mothers they should be.”

A closer look at the Kansas vote reveals why Democrats have a new hope and Republicans a new fear: turnout.

Hundreds of thousands more Kansans voted for abortion than in the primaries of both parties combined. More than 900,000 voters were about twice the total vote in the previous two midterm primary elections in Kansas. Their number has approached the one-million high turnout of the recent general presidential election.

So much for the intrigues of the Republican super-majority in the Kansas Legislature: it scheduled an abortion amendment vote for party primaries that typically have low Democratic turnout and are unfamiliar to three of the 10 politically unaffiliated Kansas voters who normally can’t vote in an election. them. These independents could vote by ballot and they opposed.

Unsurprisingly, urban and suburban areas generated much opposition to the anti-abortion amendment. But that’s the way it was 14 rural districts what overwhelming support for Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020.

This result was a confirmation of the abortion rights party’s strategy of wresting the banner of “freedom” from the Republican Party and declaring that no matter what your view of abortion is, the government should not make people’s medical decisions and prescribe pregnancy. . Populism can work for both sides.

The uneven outcome in Kansas was also a victory for direct democracy in these increasingly anti-democratic times. Contrast the choice of the people with the desire of red state legislatures, such as Indiana, to ban or severely restrict abortion. These legislators are isolated from public opinion by rigged constituencies; their only fear is being challenged by the far-right party if they show moderation.

For this reason, until the 2024 election, Democrats will try to introduce more abortion rights to the public wherever states allow voter initiatives to be on the ballot.

This perspective provides an opportunity to expose Alito’s bluff. In his opinion, he, in fact, dared the supporters of the right to abortion to use the ballot box to get their way in the states. “Women are not deprived of electoral or political power,” he wrote (without explaining why he does not believe that men have a dog in this fight).

It would be especially pleasing for Democrats to retain control of the Senate caused by the backlash against abortion rights. That would deprive Mitch McConnell of his long-awaited return as Majority Leader in January — fitting retribution for a senator who flouted norms to create a supermajority on the Supreme Court that allowed Rowe to vacate his candidacy.

Alito scored a major victory in June thanks to his opinion of Dobbs. But voters can make sure he doesn’t have the last laugh.

@jackiekcalmes