Dem 51
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GOP 49
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...Will Wisconsin Legislature Follow the Same Roadmap?

The Wall Street Journal, as readers will know, is not exactly a bastion of left-wing thought. It is center-right, particularly in its editorials (much of its news coverage is non-political, while its op-eds are all over the spectrum, but are often far-right).

Yesterday, the editorial board published a piece warning Republicans to pay heed to the election results from earlier this week. The opening paragraph:

Progressives had a banner day in the Midwest Tuesday, with victories for Chicago mayor and a swing seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. The results will energize the left within the Democratic Party, and the Badger State results are a five-alarm warning to Republicans about 2024.

In particular, the WSJ board notes that the Republicans have the minority position when it comes to extreme limits on abortion, and that if they don't dial it back, they're going to cost themselves a lot of winnable elections.

It would seem that Republican officeholders do not agree with the WSJ board, and don't care about this week's election results (not to mention last year's election results), because they are moving full-speed ahead on restrictions of various sorts in many states, including Idaho, the Carolinas, the Dakotas, Florida, and even Wisconsin. And the only reason that list isn't longer is because many red states have already gone just about as far as they possibly can in restricting abortion. Or, alternatively, they are still working through puzzles like "How can we ban abortion pills sent via USPS?"

It is not terribly surprising that the folks who speak for the WSJ and the Republicans who hold office in red and purple states (especially highly gerrymandered purple states) are not on the same page. The WSJ folks are basically old-school, northeastern Republicans. That means they're fiscally conservative but socially moderate-to-liberal. On the other hand, the people calling the shots in today's GOP are socially conservative and fiscally populist. These two factions barely belong in the same party anymore. Further, the WSJ editorial board members think about politics strategically and rationally. On the other hand, most new-guard Republican officeholders (i.e., the Trumpers) are guided by emotion and by the general mantra "do what we want today, worry about the consequences later."

There is no doubt that, when it comes to abortion, extremism will be a loser at the ballot box. And if the Republicans aren't willing to make a change in their approach to abortion, then the only real point of attack is... the ballot box. That is to say, if voters are going to punish your party for its extreme politics, then you've got to find a way to nullify those voters' votes. That's what happened in Tennessee yesterday (see above). That's what the voter ID laws and reduced polling hours and "one dropbox in a city of 2 million people" stuff is all about.

And guess what? Wisconsin Republicans, who now enjoy a created-by-gerrymander supermajority in the state House, are pondering an extremely undemocratic way to "correct" for their loss in this week's elections. We wrote that the Democrats would continue to control the state Supreme Court until 2025, barring a death or a resignation. But what we forgot when we wrote that was an impeachment. And so, newly elected judge Janet Protasiewicz might well be impeached and convicted by the state legislature, on the grounds of... um... well... reasons.

What we are seeing in Wisconsin and Tennessee and elsewhere (like, say, Washington D.C. on 1/6) is an entirely predictable consequence of the fact that the Republican Party's base is shrinking. This means that the people who run the Party are getting desperate. And, as everyone knows, desperate times call for desperate measures. Like, for example, behaving as if the results of a lawfully conducted election are a mere curiosity, to be put aside as soon as practicable.

What happens over the next few years is, unfortunately, basically unknowable. The Republicans could collapse completely, the way the Federalists did in 1815. Or, they could do vast damage before the majority says "enough is enough" and sends the GOP into the wilderness for a generation or two, as happened with the Democrats in the 1850s. Or, the Democrats could hold the line right now, starting with next year's presidential elections, leading the Republicans to step back and re-tool, and then to re-emerge as a national force pretty quickly, as they did in the 1960s. Or they could destroy democracy as we know it, which hasn't happened yet, obviously, but will certainly happen one day. Any of these outcomes is within the realm of possibility; all that we can say is that we are inclined to doubt it will be Option 1 (the Republican Party collapses) or Option 4 (democracy collapses). (Z)

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