Monday, June 07, 2021

GOP-run states push back at national Democratic control with bills reflecting values, priorities of rural Trump voters

Republican governors and state legislatures are advancing one of the most conservative agendas seen in years, apparently in response to Democratic control of Congress and the White House, Ron Brownstein reports for The Atlantic. The fallout is not only changing the daily lives of red-state residents, but widening the partisan gulf (or at least illustrating the trend).

"Republican legislators and governors have operated as if they were programming a prime-time lineup at Fox News," Brownstein writes. "They have focused far less on the small-government, limited-spending, and anti-tax policies that once defined the GOP than on an array of hot-button social issues, such as abortion, guns, and limits on public protest, that reflect the cultural and racial priorities of Trump’s base. GOP legislators appear to be operating more out of fear that Trump’s base of non-college-educated, rural, and evangelical white voters will punish them in primaries if they fail to pursue maximum confrontation against Democrats and liberal constituencies, particularly on issues revolving around culture and race."

Recent high-profile issues include allowing guns to be carried without a permit, banning "critical race theory" from classrooms and abortion restrictions such as protecting fetuses with a heartbeat.

"The other pattern evident in the surge of conservative legislation is the continuing separation of red and blue America," Brownstein writes. "As Biden and the Democrats controlling Congress are advancing an ambitious progressive agenda at the national level, almost all of the red states are responding with what amounts to a collective cry of defiance. On a lengthening list of issues, the rules that govern daily life in red and blue states are diverging—and at an accelerating pace. The chasms are deepening not only between states, but within them, as GOP legislators centered in preponderantly white rural and exurban areas more aggressively annul the policy choices of racially diverse, Democratic-controlled metro centers. Bill by bill, this year’s red-state offensive is measuring the continued unraveling of a country that appears to be unrelentingly pulling apart."

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