“Abortion Is Actually Going to Save Democracy”

Having read at various blogs, I found “annieasksyou” to be interesting and covering a topic in economics for which I have limited bandwidth. It is definitely beyond AB’s version of economics and numbers. I think you will also find annie’s words to be interesting. If you visit her site, be polite. Although Annie is also a polite person, she is a no-nonsense person too.

The topic today? Abortion and the right for women to decide. “Abortion Is Actually Going to Save Democracy” – annieasksyou…

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Abortion is actually going to save Democracy.”

Those were the words of Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, announcing that her organization is donating more than $50 million to help elect pro-choice candidates in November.

How far-fetched is Johnson’s assessment? Not nearly as far as it was before the citizens of Kansas defied the polls and prognosticators: they registered and voted in much larger numbers than expected to defeat a state constitutional amendment that threatened the existing right to choose abortion in that oh-so-red state.

The story has been evolving over the past several special elections. People-in-the-know keep their eyes on these elections as indicators.

Some of the most reliable polling in an often unreliable field comes from FiveThirtyEight. Here’s how they describe their modus operandi:

“We at FiveThirtyEight often track the results of special elections (i.e., elections that occur at unusual times because an office unexpectedly becomes vacant) because of the hints they provide to the national mood.

“When a party consistently does well in special elections — defined not by winning or losing, but by outperforming a state or district’s baseline partisanship — it’s often a sign that the national political environment favors that party, and is therefore a good omen for that party in the upcoming regular general election.”

The special elections that have gained attention began in Nebraska and Minnesota. Both reliably Republican Congressional districts yielded “nail-biter” results. The Republicans won, but by much less than anticipated.

And then came Tuesday.

One surprise occurred in New York’s 23rd Congressional district, where the Democrats exceeded expectations by nine points.

The bigger surprise was the win by Democrat Pat Ryan in New York’s 19th District—a swing district that would have been expected to go to the Republican based on historical trends.

While his opponent railed against crime and inflation, Ryan appealed for unity in protecting abortion and other rights and keeping our democracy intact.

In subsequent interviews, Ryan has spoken of the growth of support that propelled him to victory: “positive energy” from people determined to focus their anger on the injustices they want to correct.

The surge of interest began when the leaked Alito memo appeared. Ryan was in a protest march with a woman in her 60s, who—tears streaming—told him: “I can’t believe we’re doing this again.”

FiveThirtyEight takes those special election data points, adds in better-than-expected results in Washington State primaries and the Kansas amendment vote, plus the Democrats’ pulling slightly ahead in the generic House vote, and they conclude that November may be a rare instance in which the President’s party doesn’t take a “shellacking” in the midterms.

“And if so, Democrats may have the Supreme Court to thank…it seems quite likely that the Dobbs decision is responsible for the shift in the political environment. In other words, it could be akin to other major news events that turned midterm elections on their heads: former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, and the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent war on terror in 2002.”

Meanwhile, wily ole Mitch McConnell has been looking pretty grim in interviews, expressing concern that the “quality of candidates” may prevent the Republicans from retaking the Senate. (Rumor has it that this was an inside dig at Senator Rick Scott, who’s a Trump supporter and was responsible for recruiting candidates.)

All of these developments appear to validate the findings of an NBC News poll that more Americans regard threats to democracy as the most important issue we face–greater than the cost of living and jobs and the economy.

As political strategist Matthew Dowd has observed:

“Voters woke up and said ‘No, No, No! You can’t tear up the Constitution and talk about the price of milk.”

Women and men of all political views have seen the devastation already evident since the decimation of Roe. Even a South Carolina Republican state legislator, who voted for his state’s law prohibiting abortions after six weeks, wept as he told his colleagues about a teenager who almost lost her uterus because of the law.

He, at least, though similar to his colleagues in voting on this crucial medical issue based on a total absence of information and comprehension, demonstrated after the fact an awareness of the cruelty and enormous damage done by their actions.

The stories are appalling. Here’s one from a physician on Twitter, describing a patient whose life was in danger–but not in “enough danger”:

Patient 4569: 35 yo comes into clinic. Congrats – pregnant . 8 weeks later- patient short of breath. Uh oh . Cardiac US shows dilated aortic root. HIGH risk. Sorry – not an emergency yet. Monitor. Comes in the ER unconscious. Rhythm – v tach. Shock ! Epi. Chest comp. Shock. Dead— @pelleggi2 MD (@pelleggi2) August 25, 2022

People—women and men, Democrats, Republicans, and independents—are thinking about these outrages. They are also hearing the election denying far-right Republican candidates spew racism, antisemitism, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. They are frightened and angry. And increasingly, they are registering to vote.

It’s a long way between now and November 8. The dark money guys are getting ready to dump their millions. You heard about the 90-year-old billionaire who just gave $1.6 billion to Leonard Leo, the man who designed and financed the Supreme Court majority that’s plaguing us now?

Some of that money is sure to end up in Florida, where Rep. Val Demings has a real chance to unseat the unprincipled Big Lie-endorsing Marco Rubio.

And Charlie Crist seems ready and eager to take on the man I regard as the greatest-threat-apart-from-trump: Governor Ron DeSantis—a dangerous and corrupt demagogue amassing his own militia.

There are and will be voting roadblocks and gerrymandering and all kinds of shenanigans awaiting voters.

But an awakened, angry, highly motivated electorate in more and more places is recognizing that their vote is their voice. If enough of us register and vote, we can elect local, state, and national representatives who’ll help us beat back the extremist forces and save our democracy.

And I, for one, may just send Justice Samuel Alito a letter thanking him for saying the future of abortion should be in the hands of the people.

Then I’ll watch with grateful pleasure as the newly elected Congress votes to protect any number of Americans’ rights—beginning with the codification of Roe.

Annie