Is Texas Undemocratic?

The Lone Star State has enacted some peculiar new laws.

Washington Post opinion columnist Dana Milbank proclaims that “Texas shows us what post-democracy America would look like.” I had heretofore been unaware that sharia law had been imposed in Austin and was intrigued by the boldness of the claim. The actual argument is, well, less interesting.

Thanks to a series of actions by the Texas legislature and governor, we now see exactly what the Trumpified Republican Party wants: to take us to an America where women cannot get abortions, even in cases of rape and incest; an America where almost everybody can openly carry a gun in public, without license, without permit, without safety training and without fingerprinting; and an America where law-abiding Black and Latino citizens are disproportionately denied the right to vote.

This is where Texas and other red states are going, or have already gone. It is where the rest of America will go, unless those targeted by these new laws — women, people of color and all small “d” democrats — rise up.

So, with the glaring exception of the claim that Blacks and Latinos are being “denied the right to vote,” none of this is about democracy. Rather, it’s about outcomes Milbank doesn’t like that arose through representative democracy in a federal system. While “red states” are mostly an illusion—all but a handful are really blue metropolitan areas surrounded by a red sea of quasi-rural voters—it’s not the least bit democratic that Texas and other places with large rural populations have different preferences on things like guns and abortion than do more urban-dominated states. It’s the fundamental construct of our entire system of government.

On Wednesday, a Texas law went into effect that bans abortions later than six weeks, after the Supreme Court let pass a request to block the statute. Because 85 to 90 percent of women get abortions after six weeks, it amounts to a near-total ban. Already on the books in Texas is a “trigger” law that automatically bans all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. At least 10 other states have done likewise.

So, the Texas abortion law strikes me as extreme. And I disagree with the Court’s decision to allow it to go into effect while it gets litigated through the system. Given that a post-Roe consensus remains the governing precedent, the presumption should have been that the law is unconstitutional. Regardless, the court allowing the will of the state legislature to into effect notwithstanding precedents set forth by the least democratic branch of government is hardly “undemocratic.”

Also Wednesday, a new law went into effect in Texas, over the objections of law enforcement, allowing all Texans otherwise allowed to own guns to carry them in public, without a license and without training. Now, 20 states have blessed such “permitless carry.”

And on Tuesday, the Texas legislature passed the final version of the Republican voting bill that bans drive-through and 24-hour voting, both used disproportionately by voters of color; imposes new limits on voting by mail, blocks election officials from distributing mail-ballot applications unless specifically requested; gives partisan poll watchers more leeway to influence vote counting; and places new rules and paperwork requirements that deter people from helping others to vote or to register. At least 17 states have adopted similar restrictions.

All three of these actions are deeply antidemocratic.

So, again, the Texas state legislature enacting laws Milbank—or even Texas law enforcement—disagrees with it not undemocratic. Allowing unlicensed, untrained yahoos to carry firearms like something out of an Old West movie strikes me as nuts but, hell, it’s Texas.

Conversely, attempts by the state legislature to rig the game to their advantage are certainly democratically suspect. And, while legislatures controlled by both of our major parties engage in gerrymandering and other tactics to increase the likelihood that they’ll win more seats, the Republican Party has demonstrated over time that it is willing to go further and make it harder for groups likely to vote for the other party to exercise the franchise. They don’t even bother to hide it anymore, with numerous high-level Republicans all but admitting that they can’t win elections where everyone votes.

Whether any or all of these particular provisions are “undemocratic” is a harder call, though. Drive-through voting, 24-hour voting, and the like are relatively recent phenomena and hardly universal. Plenty of Democratic-controlled states lack these features. Making it harder for organizers to distribute ballots and register voters is, again, suspect given that the intent would seem rather obvious. But, again, unless Texas and other “Red states” are the only ones with such restrictive rules, it’s hard to claim they are “undemocratic” and New York and others with similar rules are “democratic.”

Still, I tend to agree with my colleague Steven Taylor that, in judging these issues, we should look at intent. While I’m skeptical of arguments that states have a duty to maintain all of the emergency voting provisions put in place during COVID in perpetuity, changes to the law that make it harder to vote should be viewed differently than much older laws that had similar provisions but were written in a different era. I don’t know that Texas is “undemocratic.” But they’re clearly moving in a less democratic direction. Further, to the extent that many “blue states” also have restrictive voting laws, it’s not an argument for red states to emulate that but rather for a more uniform system that makes voting easier across the country.

Milbank then shifts to an odd argument:

Texans overwhelmingly object to permitless carry. Fully 57 percent of Texas voters oppose such a law and only 36 percent support it, according to a June poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune. The partnership’s April poll found that, by 46 percent to 20 percent, Texans want stricter gun laws — and support for tougher laws is 54 percent among women, 55 percent among Latinos and 65 percent among Black voters.

Texans also oppose banning all abortions if Roe is overturned, with 53 percent against a ban and 37 percent for one. Women oppose the ban, 58 percent to 33 percent. A narrow plurality (46 percent to 44 percent) oppose the six-week ban, too.

Furthermore, pluralities of Texans opposed the ban on drive-through voting and restrictions on early voting hours. The drive-through ban was particularly objectionable to Black voters (52 percent opposed to 30 percent in the April poll) and Latino voters (44 percent to 36 percent), as were the limits on early voting hours, opposed 52 percent to 28 percent among Black voters and 46 percent to 31 percent among Latino voters.

“Democracy” does not mean that legislative outcomes will always align with public opinion polls. Most issues are more salient to some people than others. Pro-gun people and anti-abortion people are quite likely to be enthusiastic, single-issue voters. Further, even apart from underhanded attempts at voter suppression, Blacks, Hispanics, the young, and the poor are less likely to show up at the polls and have been since time immemorial.

Still, I largely agree with Milbank’s conclusion:

And that’s the whole point of such voter-suppression laws. Texas became a “majority minority” state more than 15 years ago — and the country as a whole will follow in about two decades. But White voters still dominate the electorate. Latinos are about 40 percent of the Texas population, but only 20 to 25 percent of the electorate.

Texas legislators aren’t answering to the people but rather to the White, male voters that put the Republicans in power. The new voting law, by suppressing non-White votes, aims to keep White voters dominant. As demographics turn more and more against Republicans in Texas, their antidemocratic actions will only get worse.

It doesn’t particularly bother me that some groups are more inclined to vote. It’s only natural that older, wealthier voters will perceive themselves as having a greater stake in public policy. But it’s quite another thing entirely for politicians to intentionally make it harder for people to vote. That‘s undemocratic.

More fundamentally, while there are perfectly good reasons for opinion polls and public policy to be unaligned on occasion, it’s undemocratic for this misalignment to consistently be in the direction of rural, white voters. But that’s more a function of our larger system than it is of the peculiarities of the Lone Star State.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Democratic Theory, Supreme Court, US Politics, Voter Suppression
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Basic fundamental truth: when a society both makes itself non-responsive to majority opinion *and* impinges on freedoms and rights of the citizenry, it raises the chances of violence as a solution.

    The GOP is playing a very dangerous game through its extreme gerrymandering in places like Wisconsin and North Carolina. When 66+% can vote for one party and that can result in the other party with total control of the legislature, the appeal to the ballot box doesn’t work as a viable alternative.

    Combine that with SCOTUS and its recent shameful use of the “Shadow Docket” and someone is going to conclude that the only way to protect what they view as fundamental rights is through violence… and I’m not sure they will be wrong.

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  2. KM says:

    @SKI:
    It’s the same with peaceful protesting. If you can’t use the tools of democracy, non-violence and reasoned arguments because someone’s perverted the law and society badly enough to neuter them….. all that’s left is the brick.

    When you cheat to maintain power, don’t be surprised someone cheats back to remove you from it one way or the other. The only thing holding our system together right now is faith in it and it’s righteousness. That faith is remarkable fragile and all the repeated stompings on it lately aren’t going to do any good.

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  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    There was a time when I would have disagreed with the appropriate endpoint being violence, but like you, I’m not sure that I do any longer. Maybe its come from living among the French (who’ll have a riot over just about anything …)

    A republic, if you can keep it. Indeed …

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  4. drj says:

    it’s not the least bit undemocratic that Texas and other places with large rural populations have different preferences on things like guns and abortion than do more urban-dominated states.

    I find willfully blind statements like this absolutely infuriating.

    Let’s focus on just one aspect of Texas’s new anti-abortion legislation. This piece of legislation allows anyone who is opposed to abortion to sue anyone else who supposedly abetted an “illegal” abortion for a $10k reward plus attorney’s fees.

    However, if the defendant prevails, they cannot recover these costs, which means that they are financially on the hook regardless.

    In practice, this means that anti-abortion activists – especially if they are backed by right-wing money or legal assistance – carry zero risk, while anyone who is even suspected of having abetted an abortion is at risk of incurring significant legal fees.

    This is a fundamental inequality that is specifically designed to give certain people more rights than others.

    That is obviously not democratic, if “democracy” means anything more than lawless majority rule.

    But, of course, it gets worse. Because of voter suppression and gerrymandering, it is far from obvious that this is what the majority wants.

    Thus, this piece of legislation (that, to add insult to injury, is being kept on the books by a corrupt SCOTUS that is dominated by judges who were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote) deliberately encourages an advantaged minority to control the behavior of the majority through clearly biased legislation.

    It’s the fundamental construct of our entire system of government.

    This is almost funny if it weren’t so fucking sad.

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  5. Scott says:

    The anti-democratic actions in Texas boils down to the extreme gerrymandering that goes on to entrench a minority in control. Texas is primarily urban but the urban areas’ electoral powers are split up and diluted.

    We brag about being a low regulatory state; however, it makes people jump through hoops to get registered and then to vote. It is not about election security but job security.

    There are two particularly troublesome “innovations” in this last legislative session: 1)The right of private citizens to sue abortion providers and 2) Increased authorities for poll watchers to intimidate poll workers.

    The deputation of private citizens would allow members of the general public to sue those who might have violated the restrictions, which providers call a bounty hunting scheme.

    It would allow people such “as a partner, parent, nosy neighbor, random stranger, or anti-abortion protester” across the country to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion after six weeks in Texas — including doctors, partners, friends, family members, or abortion fund volunteers.

    It offers a $10,000 minimum reward for every successful lawsuit.

    There is no recoupment of costs by defendants if unsuccessful.

    As for poll watchers.

    The legislation includes language to strengthen the autonomy of partisan poll watchers at polling places by granting them “free movement” within a polling place, except for being present at a voting station when a voter is filling out their ballot. SB 1 would also make it a criminal offense to obstruct their view or distance the watcher “in a manner that would make observation not reasonably effective.”

    Currently, poll watchers are entitled to sit or stand “conveniently near” election workers, and it is a criminal offense to prevent them from observing.

    Basically, it is enlisting vigilantes to intimidate private citizens. Blast from the past. Can tar and feathering be far behind.

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  6. Scott F. says:

    More fundamentally, while there are perfectly good reasons for opinion polls and public policy to be unaligned on occasion, it’s undemocratic for this misalignment to consistently be in the direction of rural, white voters.

    Interestingly, you seem to have convinced yourself of Milbank’s anti-democracy argument by your closing paragraphs.

    Because Texas is a microcosm of the US when it comes to policy and the popular will being misaligned “in the direction of rural, white voters,” it’s not that hard to see these recent Texas laws as harbingers of what the US can look forward to as more rural states cement their anti-majoritarian advantages through voter suppression laws and post-Census gerrymandering.

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  7. Not the IT Dept. says:

    James finds a columnist he disagrees with and filters his view of the legislation under discussion through his dislike of that particular columnist.

    News flash: there is a lot of commentary out there about the impact of what just happened in Texas and some of the commenters here are already reflecting that.

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  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    I can agree with every comment to this point, but at the end of the day, if citizens don’t vote they’ll get the government that they deserve.

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  9. Scott F. says:

    BTW, I like the Texans’ Map graphic you’ve used for this post, though as is noted in the post, the blue dot inside inside the state excluding Austin should be extended to show that Houston and San Antonio aren’t considered real Texas either.

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  10. Barry says:

    James, this is another case of you looking at some major and disturbing changes and handwaving them away.

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  11. charon says:

    Republican controlled parts of Texas are basically theocracies controlled by some Christian bigfoot named Steven Hotze. If you want to see a preview of “Gilead” out of “The Handmaids Tale” look to TX.

    All the big name Republicans in TX need Hotze’s OK to get anywhere.

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  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    To me the import of Texas’s Vigilante Act (or the Susan Collins Reproductive Rights Repeal Act) is less about Texas and more about SCOTUS.
    This decision effectively erased what little was left of the legitimacy of the court in the service of a radical political agenda. Activist judges, indeed.

    “The Act is a breathtaking act of defiance — of the Constitution, of this Court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas…The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”

    Not to say that the Texas angle is not important…I mean…what’s the worse that could happen when you encourage neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, and complete strangers, to spy on one another…in a state that makes sure all those people all have lots of guns.
    5 justices; 2 whose seats were stolen, 4 of whom were appointed by presidents who failed to get the majority of votes in their elections, and all of whom were approved by a Senate that represents the vast minority of the countries population.

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  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    At the bottom of all the blah, blah, blah…
    Republicans have made women significantly less free, not more.
    But they have come to the rescue of lentil bean sized organism that cannot survive outside of it’s host.
    If this isn’t one of the biggest issues on the ballot in 2022 and 24, I will be surprised.

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  14. Chip Daniels says:

    If one wants to look at intent, it seems glaringly obvious that Republicans at all levels have un-democracy as their desired outcome.

    It doesn’t take careful parsing of legal theory or wordplay.
    Their support of political violence like Jan 6, their insistence that they can only lose elections via fraud are the obvious examples.

    But deeper, there is a shocking disconnect between the stated policy preferences of Republicans and the preferences of the majority of Americans, yet the Republicans continue to pass legislation flouting the will of the majority.

    In conventional political analysis this can’t happen; Conventional political parties tailor their preferences to gain the maximum number of voters possible while still adhering to their base.

    That Republicans refuse to do this shows they want minority rule, not democracy.

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  15. Scott says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Bottom line: These are just two culture war items (voting and abortion) that, in reality, just immediately impact a small minority of people. Meaning, most people are registered and very few are looking for abortions. Most people will not let this drive their vote.

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  16. Modulo Myself says:

    With abortion, the GOP is not merely anti-democratic. It is not as if the OBGYN community is pushing for this crypto-fascist law. And scientists have not discovered a soul in a little embryo the size of a pea. The entire pro-life argument sucks. It is 100% wrong, and it basically only works if you are brainwashed as a fundie Christian from birth.

    Generally, when someone has an unpopular idea they think, eventually, they will be vindicated. Pro-life people believe they will be vindicated via magic–hell and heaven and eternal whatever. They are theocrats.

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott:
    Agree to disagree.
    Abstract discussions of choice, anti-choice, are one thing.
    An actual view of the world that Republicans are actively building is motivational.

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  18. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I honestly can’t believe we’ve come to this.

    I hold out hope, albeit fading, that we will find a way to come back from what I see as an increasingly close brink but the fact that folks like you and I, who know the damage that the mob can bring, see the other avenues losing viability is telling.

    When a material majority of the country wants one thing but our structure delivers a different thing – and it keeps happening…

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  19. KM says:

    @Scott:
    I think you’re missing the spite and intimidation angle here. You don’t need to have had an abortion or been involved – someone can straight up accuse you of something under this law with no proof, tie you up in court and cost you money just because. This will quickly be used by people to punish others they don’t like or get vengeance in petty grudges. Your neighbor’s grass too high? Report ’em for an abortion! Boss mean to you? Report ’em! Ex-wife pissing you off or you’re mad at your cheating other? Report ’em!

    As soon as folks start realizing what this law means in a spiteful, angry culture, it’s gonna have an effect. Pretty soon it’s going to be the new petty nuisance suit and every bad breakup will have accusations tossed around to ruin people’s lives. That’s gonna drive some people to the polls real quick.

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  20. Andy says:

    Still, I tend to agree with my colleague Steven Taylor that, in judging these issues, we should look at intent. While I’m skeptical of arguments that states have a duty to maintain all of the emergency voting provisions put in place during COVID in perpetuity, changes to the law that make it harder to vote should be viewed differently than much older laws that had similar provisions but were written in a different era. I don’t know that Texas is “undemocratic.” But they’re clearly moving in a less democratic direction. Further, to the extent that many “blue states” also have restrictive voting laws, it’s not an argument for red states to emulate that but rather for a more uniform system that makes voting easier across the country.

    The intent isn’t irrelevant, but what really matters is the actual effects. Therefore, I don’t see any reason that older restrictions should be viewed with less skepticism than new restrictions, particularly since the old restrictions are often more onerous than new ones. And those old restrictions also were implemented with a specific intent – mostly the intent to advantage political machines. The passage of time doesn’t make that intent any less relevant.

    And contra Milbank, gaming election rules is nothing new and doesn’t foretell the end of democracy.

    Personally, I think all states should adopt Colorado’s model, which is well tested and works very well in our geographically and politically diverse state.

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  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @KM:

    This will quickly be used by people to punish others they don’t like or get vengeance in petty grudges.

    And what the pro-choice folks should do is begin a campaign of accusing the daughters of R poll of having abortions. It will get ugly quick and that will prove a point.

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    It doesn’t particularly bother me that some groups are more inclined to vote. It’s only natural that older, wealthier voters will perceive themselves as having a greater stake in public policy.

    Quite the contrary, actually. At age 67 I have at most a 30 years interest in government’s effect on my life, while my kids are looking at 75 more years potentially. What we have are elections dominated by people who have less at stake and less to fear.

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  23. Kathy says:

    @KM:
    @Sleeping Dog:

    After bandying the term about for four years, we’re all about to find out what a 21st century mass witch hunt looks like.

    Also, the Defense Department ought to take every measure to ensure the safety of nuclear weapons. It won’t end well if they’re used in a civil war.

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  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    And contra Milbank, gaming election rules is nothing new and doesn’t foretell the end of democracy.

    Actually, it can. It has the same effect as government corruption in that it subverts faith in and support for a major institution. It’s the same way stock manipulation undercuts faith in capitalism, or steroid use undercuts support for sports.

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  25. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.:

    Interestingly, you seem to have convinced yourself of Milbank’s anti-democracy argument by your closing paragraphs. Because Texas is a microcosm of the US when it comes to policy and the popular will being misaligned “in the direction of rural, white voters,”

    I think that the overall US system is inherently undemocratic, for reasons I’ve been writing about for years. I find most of Milbanks’ complaints about Texas not so much about “democracy” as about policy outcomes.

    @drj:

    This is a fundamental inequality that is specifically designed to give certain people more rights than others.

    That’s a much more interesting argument than the one Milbank makes! And I suspect much of this will be struck down by the courts for reasons you lay out.

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    James finds a columnist he disagrees with and filters his view of the legislation under discussion through his dislike of that particular columnist.

    I don’t have a strong interest as to whether abortion is legal in places I don’t live. I’m interested in the degree to which America and its states are “democratic,” so read a prominent columnist’s argument on that subject.

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  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    IANAL. I am a programmer. However, there’s a certain overlap, which we sometimes call “corner cases”.

    So, I wonder,

    1. what if you help someone, you get sued, you ignore the suit, you get a summary judgement, you refuse to pay, and Texas sends law enforcement after you in some manner.

    Isn’t that the State of Texas enforcing a statute outlawing abortion?

    I mean, people can yell at you “you owe me money!!!” and shake their fist all they want, but if they want to collect, they have to either do it like the mob does, or enlist the State.

    2. What if I, being a citizen of California, where this is all perfectly legal, were to post on my own facebook stream (or blog), addresses, phone numbers and emails of abortion clinics nationwide, wherever it is legal, and offered to meet people at state lines or airports to assist them (transport, lodging, etc). And a woman in Texas read that post and used the information in it.

    If that qualifies, that’s an impediment to my free speech. Now that I think of it, if you offered information in-state about legal options in other states, you could be sued, but this seems directly contrary to the Commerce Clause. Congress gets to regulate interstate activity, not the legislature of Texas.

    And now that I think of it, you could probably with either FB or YouTube, target ads providing information about abortion providers to young women in Texas, and tell the court that the State of Texas is trying to restrict your ability to do business in a state where that business is legal.

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  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I was amused at the comparisons of the Middle Eastern extremists riding around in trucks, and Magat’s riding around in trucks.
    https://imgur.com/t/criminals/9duufqK
    Then there was January 6th and the attempt to take over the Government.
    And now with this Texas law, and the SCOTUS endorsement of taking away the rights of women…the Republican party has truly become the American Taliban.

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  28. John430 says:

    What a crock! Faux outrage, given that Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are Democrat strongholds. The 24 hr. voting and drive thru voting tools were in response to the pandemic and hardly in universal use. A one-year experimental response to the pandemic is hardly “suppressing” minority votes. Additionally, “Anglo” (meaning whites) are somewhat in the minority in Texas urban areas and Latins or blacks are turning out in large numbers. But…check out the voting patterns in the Rio Grande valley. Puro Latino and trending Republican. If Biden and state Democrats like “Beto” O’Rourke, chief dilettante of the Texas Left, continue their radical POVs, then Texas will be solidly Republican by 2024- statewide.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    Texas is Democratic in the “Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch” way.

    And the gerrymandering and voter suppression is designed to allow a R+5 state to be run like a R+15 state.

    And, as a bonus, judicial review has been reduced to a sad joke.

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  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @John430:
    Ah…one of our most racist commenters has opined.

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  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t have a strong interest as to whether abortion is legal in places I don’t live.

    I think we’re all well aware how little you care about anything that doesn’t affect you personally.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m not sure that the people advocating about violence are saying that it’s the appropriate end point as they are that it’s the inevitable one. To riff of Malcolm X: the ballot or the bullet, your choice.

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  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I realize that. The rub was that both SKI and I seem to both independently be leaning towards a state of thinking where violence is not only leaving heavily toward being inevitable, but also understandable and defensible.

    @SKI:

    I fully agree. I neither know how it came to this nor, speaking frankly, do I even pretend to know how it be turned away from its glaring endpoint. I do fear that we’re rapidly approaching the point where turning it away becomes no longer possible.

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  34. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    And I suspect much of this will be struck down by the courts for reasons you lay out.

    Yeah, just wait until SCOTUS finds out about this provision.

    Oh, wait.

    For some reason, you really want to see normalcy where none exists. Maybe it’s some sort of innate trust in authority, or perhaps you don’t want to acknowledge that friends, colleagues, or family who support this kind of bullshit are gladly and willingly turning their backs on democracy as long as it’s their tribe which gets to rule.

    In any case, it skews your perspective in a really, really bad way. And not just in this particular case.

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  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: “Isn’t that the State of Texas enforcing a statute outlawing abortion?”

    Maybe, but it can just as easily be argued that it’s Texas enforcing a statute that says that court awards must be paid. And, as James noted, what’s a non-resident’s interest in what laws are passed by a state in which they don’t live. And sure, go for “corrosive effect” if you want to, but expect to be asked about other “corrosive effects” that go unnoticed by you. It’s partisanship and IS a “both sides do it” phenomenon. And it’s also not “wrong” (but may be unproductive, another question entirely), so go ahead and own it.

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  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I didn’t see that quality, but then again, I don’t read with your eyes or interpret through your filters either. Good point that I hadn’t considered–thanks.

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  37. Scott says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    what’s a non-resident’s interest in what laws are passed by a state in which they don’t live.

    Just read an interesting thread that a Texas resident can sue someone across state lines. I don’t know that rules for that but maybe other states should be interested in this law.

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  38. Timb116 says:

    This is hysterical. Joyner ridicules Millbank’s interest in “democratic outcomes” and not “democracy.” The fact that democracy causes democratic outcomes, ie decisions, policies, and governments which reflect the majority of the people.

    Instead, like in a thousand other nation, James signs off on the idea that if there’s an election, the will of the voters has been expressed.

    One wonders about the election in the Soviet Union or the 98% Saddam used to win. Sure, they don’t appear to represent democracy, any more than Texas making it harder for blacks and Latinos to vote would be the position of most blacks and Latinos, but [shrug] what can a fella do when the appearances are maintained?

    Just a disappointing response and one that rhetorically approves of the Texas GOP maintaining its minority hold on the institutions of governance in Texas.

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  39. Timb116 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Go look up Shelley v Kramer and come back. If the Supreme Court recognized precedent (and to be clear, it does not), then Shelley would permit anyone from collecting anything.

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  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: I’m not a lawyer, but I’m also not aware that this is some kind of new thing. I’ll become interested if it is and Texas is somehow ahead of the curve or abusing some sort of process, though.

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  41. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “And, as James noted, what’s a non-resident’s interest in what laws are passed by a state in which they don’t live.”

    Seem to recall a whole bunch of Americans died a little more than a century and a half ago over the proposition that non-residents do have an interest in laws passed in a state in which they don’t live. Something to do with human rights or something.

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  42. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The rub was that both SKI and I seem to both independently be leaning towards a state of thinking where violence is not only leaving heavily toward being inevitable, but also understandable and defensible.

    You’re both late to the game, from my perspective.

    I think part of the reason the BLM protests had a touch of violence is that we have neutered all forms of protest and redress.

    And I’m genuinely surprised the pipeline protests in the Dakotas haven’t devolved into killing the police, given the amount of brutality the police have brought to them and the governments’ complete refusal to address the religious concerns and the tribal sovereignty.

    (If it was white people who got rights, and whose religion and traditions were being violated, they would be out in force with guns, making threats, and someone would shoot)

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  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Christianists have long complained of religious persecution. The truth is, this anti abortion law is religious persecution by forcing non Christians be subject to their beliefs.

    It’s always projection with these people.

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  44. SKI says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’re both late to the game, from my perspective.

    The fact that either of us are at the game is scary in and of itself. We are lawyers. Trained and indoctrinated into the value and stability of structure and institutions. Cyclical about those structures and institutions to be sure but also reliant on them.

    That someone like me can even contemplate that the “right” solution might end up involving assassinations is absurd.

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  45. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @SKI:
    @HarvardLaw92:

    …someone is going to conclude that the only way to protect what they view as fundamental rights is through violence… and I’m not sure they will be wrong.

    Many people dug deep into their pockets, and fought hard for change, through the ballot box. If change is not forthcoming, if there is not even a pretense of change, what choice is left?
    I didn’t work to get Biden elected so that the DOJ would stand idly by while rights are taken away and the instigators of Jan. 6th, who tried to take over the Government, are not held to account. I didn’t give money to candidates in other states, so we could win the Senate, so that voting rights wouldn’t be addressed.
    If the ballot box doesn’t work, then what?

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  46. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Isn’t that the State of Texas enforcing a statute outlawing abortion?

    I would think that granting everyone standing and empowering the courts to hear cases is “state enforcement”, and think that’s a very dangerous path to go down.

    There are some environmental laws that allow private parties to sue over violations, but I think that they require some sort of standing — residency in an affected area, etc.

    The edge case I am excited about is the pimp arranging to get his prostitutes abortions, and then suing everyone involved. Because we all know pimps are after the dough.

    Or the woman who sues her ex-boyfriend because two years after he drove her to get an abortion he cheated on her.

    Really, there are a lot of opportunities for disaster in ways that will make us squirm.

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  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    Things have gotten pretty bad when I’m the voice of moderation, but no, violence is not called for. Yet. We have a way ahead: flip Texas. Flip Texas and the GOP is on life support. Flip Florida as well and the GOP is done as an effective force in national politics.

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  48. Scott says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    If the ballot box doesn’t work, then what?

    Some egregious examples of voting not working:

    Florida Amendment 4, allowing felons with sentences complete to vote, passed with 65% of vote. Undercut by Florida legislature and courts.

    Voters approving Medicaid expansion but delayed, undercut by State Legislatures.

    Those are just two examples of elected officials just ignoring the will of the voters. I’m sure there are more.

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  49. Sleeping Dog says:

    TikToker Makes Script to Flood Texas Abortion ‘Whistleblower’ Site With Fake Info

    “To me the McCarthyism era tactics of turning neighbors against each other over a bill I feel is a violation of Roe V Wade is unacceptable. There are people on TikTok using their platform to educate and do their part. I believe this is me doing mine,” Black told Motherboard in an email.

    Well maybe not McCarthyism, but definitely a page from the Stasi playbook.

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  50. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I agree we aren’t there yet…

    But I’m looking at scenarios where popular support doesn’t matter because SCOTUS invalidates laws and gerrymandering plus voter suppression maintains a firewall for the GOP where they can hold a power with a minority of votes.

    The mindset of the core of the GOP is that any result that doesn’t leave them in charge is suspect and invalid. Thus the purpose of an election isn’t to select new leaders but to entrench their power. That leads them to an anti-democratic pathway. Given the current situation, I am increasingly uncertain that we can defeat that with more democracy.

    I used to be. Then the past 5 years happened.

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  51. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Sure…agreed. But the game is rigged in those states. So what’s the answer to that? You cannot out-organize effective voter suppression.
    As Scott points out, above, FL voters passed a referendum giving felons who had completed their sentences the right to vote. Republicans simply ignored the results of that election.
    On Jan. 6th Republicans tried to take over the Government, because they believed a lie about a stolen election.
    Why shouldn’t Democrats rise up against those who ACTUALLY steal elections?

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  52. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @SKI:

    The mindset of the core of the GOP is that any result that doesn’t leave them in charge is suspect and invalid.

    And now that they have been shown the path to overturn elections, it will only happen again. And next time it is likely to be successful.
    They are already passing laws in GA and TX and other places allowing Republican legislatures to simply invalidate results they don’t like.
    And Merrick Garland is showing Susan Collins levels of concern.

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  53. Modulo Myself says:

    What’s scary is that had Trump’s post-election gambits proved successful the world would have gone on. There would be lawsuits and some protests, but he would be president in the same shabby way he was before. It would be a mess, but short of killing numerous Republican officials in an organized way what could be done? Likely, we would all be here arguing if Republicans are all vile fascists or if it’s due to the binary nature of our system or if it’s the fault of the Democrats for not blah blah blah.

    Also, I think the GOP has figured out that next time they will be able to pull off what Trump pathetically tried to do and the system will support it.

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  54. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Florida’s Senate President announces that they will be passing a model of the Texas abortion law.

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  55. Barry says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Things have gotten pretty bad when I’m the voice of moderation, but no, violence is not called for. Yet. We have a way ahead: flip Texas. Flip Texas and the GOP is on life support. Flip Florida as well and the GOP is done as an effective force in national politics.”

    The problem is that in both of those states the legislature is making sure that the GOP will retain power no matter what.

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  56. dazedandconfused says:

    A lot of people are learning the hard way those elections for state rep and sen matter too. If they are instead learning they have no recourse but violence they are unfit for a republic.

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  57. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    So the time for violence will be after the GOP embraces violence?

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  58. Andy says:

    I wonder if all the people calling for or toying with violence are willing to get their hands dirty, or do they expect to be the instigators who then comfortably sit cheering from the sidelines while others spill their blood. Talk, as they say, is cheap.

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  59. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    If they are instead learning they have no recourse but violence they are unfit for a republic.

    To the contrary…

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

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  60. reid says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: South Dakota’s (female) governor also announced similar plans. It’s just the start. They’re trying to reap years of gerrymandering, propaganda, voter suppression, etc. in red states.

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  61. Kurtz says:

    @Gustopher:

    (If it was white people who got rights, and whose religion and traditions were being violated, they would be out in force with guns, making threats, and someone would shoot)

    Would?

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  62. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    You cannot out-organize effective voter suppression.

    Yes, you can. The voter suppression imposes inconveniences, not blocks. Inconveniences can be overcome.

    Look, Democrats have to be willing to do what Republicans have been doing for decades, and I don’t mean lying. The issues we face, things like police reform, school curricula and even abortion are not won at the national level, these are trench warfare issues, issues of relentless pressure, lots of dull, day-in, day-out fights. They fight in the trenches, year after year, and we tend not to.

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  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: Ayup, and 150 years later, all those issues have been put aside. Wait… What?

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  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: What? You’re expecting these guys to do something other than send other people’s children to this party? When did THAT happen last? (Other than the odd outlier here or there?)

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  65. The Q says:

    So, if we go by Mr. Joyner’s standard, Hitler did nothing “undemocratic” since he was following the “law”, the Nuremberg laws. How can it be “undemocratic” if it was legally passed by legally elected voters?

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  66. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    Personally, I think all states should adopt Colorado’s model, which is well tested and works very well in our geographically and politically diverse state.

    It will never happen as long as the GOP has a vote. But the good news is that Colorado is going the way of California, which is a good thing. California had a dysfunctional legislature because the GOP wasn’t serious about governing. For them, it was about culture war issues and taxes. That was their entire playbook. Immigrants: Bad. Abortion: Bad. Church: Good. Gays: Bad. And so on. Additionally, California had massive budget deficit every year for a long time, due to GOP intransigence on raising ANY taxes. But then, after Arnold, Jerry Brown got elected. Then the Dems ran the table on statewide offices, and flipped both the Assembly and the Senate, and took full control of the state. Led by Brown, the legislature cut some spending, raised some taxes. Cut some more spending, raised more taxes. Soon, the budget deficit became a surplus. Now, Calfornia has a budget surplus or $75.7 Billion. To understand how big that surplus is, the ENTIRE GDP of Mississippi is $102.4 Billion. California’s surplus is 74% of Mississippi’s entire economic output.

    https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/05/10/california-has-a-staggering-757b-budget-surplus-1381195

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Colorado is turning more blue every year since they began vote by mail in 2013. More people voting means more Democratic wins. The GOP does NOT want more people voting.

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  67. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    I wonder if all the people calling for or toying with violence are willing to get their hands dirty,

    No one here is calling for violence. Some of us think it is the inevitable outcome, assuming the trend lines continue. Violence is not likely to go well.

    But, then again, people refusing to get vaccinated is also not going to go well, so just because it will be terrible doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

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  68. Andy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Colorado will never be like California and for that I am thankful.

    Although I do like California for a lot of reasons, I have no desire to import its high taxes, the extreme cost of living, and high level of income inequality to Colorado, to name just three differences.

    And California’s tax system would not work here since it is so dependent on taxing the extremely wealthy. We don’t have the super-rich people that you do, and we have TABOR in our constitution which is as entrenched and untouchable as California’s Prop 13.

    And that’s all OK. Colorado is a much different state than California. Just because it’s turning toward the Democratic party doesn’t mean we are going to adopt the California way of doing things. Plus, our Republicans at the state level are actually reasonable and most stuff in our legislature passes on a bipartisan basis. We tend to elect more libertarian-leaning Democrats than is the case in other states. Our governor, for example, was the only member of Congress that belonged to both the Progressive and Liberty caucuses when he was in Congress.

    But who knows, things are always changing and we are importing a lot of Californians, but not enough to change the character of the state I think.

    @Gustopher:

    No one here is calling for violence. Some of us think it is the inevitable outcome, assuming the trend lines continue.

    Tomato, to-mah-to.

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  69. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Tomato, to-mah-to.

    All other things being equal, I suspect that many (if not most) of us do not wish to put the anti-democratic, UnAmerican traitors against the wall as we start our great purge.

    But, of course, all other things are never equal, so… ymmv.

    Also, violence from the left is likely to backfire spectacularly. Somehow this country accepts right wing violence and threats from groups like the Proud Boys, but I expect that if someone were to be killing Proud Boys in their sleep, it would be a “problem”.

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  70. Barry says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Yes, you can. The voter suppression imposes inconveniences, not blocks. Inconveniences can be overcome.”

    It’s *statistical*, Mike.

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  71. rachel says:

    @Barry: And “statistical” is why the house always wins even when the games aren’t rigged.

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  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andy:

    and we have TABOR in our constitution which is as entrenched and untouchable as California’s Prop 13.

    Fair point. On the other hand, there are also holes in TABOR large enough to drive dump trucks through. The one certainty with laws is that there are always going to be ways around them.

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  73. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    Not surprisingly, you missed the point of the post.

    If one wants more people voting, you need the GOP out of the way. Colorado has gone from purple to blue. The more people the vote, the more Dems win. It’s simple.

    Yeah. Colorado is going the way of California in that they got the GOP out of the way, and can now actually govern Colorado like a state should be governed.

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  74. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    All other things being equal, I suspect that many (if not most) of us do not wish to put the anti-democratic, UnAmerican traitors against the wall as we start our great purge.

    But, of course, all other things are never equal, so… ymmv.

    Hence my original comment. I suspect most here will be cheering from the stands while others line up “traitors” against a wall. Talk is cheap.

    Also, violence from the left is likely to backfire spectacularly. Somehow this country accepts right wing violence and threats from groups like the Proud Boys, but I expect that if someone were to be killing Proud Boys in their sleep, it would be a “problem”.

    I think violence backfires generally. I’m against the use of political violence generally as a matter of principle. For that reason, I don’t excuse it regardless of which political side tries to justify it. And that’s what has been happening in this thread – an attempt to justify the idea of political violence as legitimate, but only for their side.

    @EddieInCA:

    Not surprisingly, you missed the point of the post.

    Not surprisingly, you missed that I didn’t miss the point of your post. I fully understand that you think that what’s going on in Colorado, as with many things, is reducible to a simplistic “dem good, gop bad” construct. My point and my comment were intended to show that I disagree with that simplistic characterization, particularly in the case of Colorado.

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  75. Zachriel says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    That “But” is doing a lot of work in that quote.

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But . . .
    https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration

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  76. dazedandconfused says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    A republic did not exist at that time. The idea is to allow governments to transfer power without violence. Are you prepared to state the Texas legislature was appointed by a king?

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  77. The Q says:

    Andy, according to the census, about 370,000 Californians now live in your state. If you ball them together, they would be the 4th largest city in Colorado. And the exodus will only increase. Methinks you have underestimated their impact on housing affordability, density, congestion and your state’s
    politics.

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