This is what overreach looks like.
For years, Republicans courted Evangelicals by giving lip service to right-to-life zealots, homophobes, racists, and other right-wing social issue voters. But even when Republicans had the trifecta, they knew better than to do things like overturn Roe v. Wade. They did try to block gay marriage, but they gave into that relatively quietly.
But all that changed with the arrival of Trumpism. One of the main tools of Trumpism is to rile up your voters to create a base. It does this by “owning the libs”, and even demonizing them, calling them socialists, and even pedophiles. Indeed, Trump was never against abortion, he just used it to mobilize religious voters to vote for him. But when you get a group of people really angry, you pretty much have to do something for them to get them to keep voting for you.
So Republicans packed the Supreme Court, and despite the new justices claiming that Roe was “settled law”, the Supremes unsettled it. They had to, despite the fact that 61% of Americans say that abortion should be be legal in all or most cases, while only 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.
But yesterday, in the first response to the Supreme Court decision, blowback happened. The constitution of Kansas protects the right to an abortion, but there was a primary election yesterday, and Kansas Republicans tried to change the constitution so that abortion would not be protected, so that the legislature could then make it illegal. They scheduled the vote during a primary election, rather than waiting for the general election, because typically primary elections bring out more Republican voters, especially if held in the summer, when college students (who tend to be more progressive) are gone for summer break.
But then something unexpected happened. Even though Kansas is solidly Republican and conservative, the proposed change to their constitution galvanized pro-choice voters. Turnout for the election was 250% larger than expected, matching the turnout in many presidential elections. Amazingly, even Republican voters were not as anti-abortion as expected. In fact, the vote wasn’t even close, the measure being rejected by roughly 20 points.
Now the only question is how much efforts to ban abortions in other states will slow down. Indeed, conservative activists and politicians have been making noise about banning gay marriage, contraception, and even going after Social Security and Medicare, but this strong rebuke should make them think twice. And maybe, just maybe, the Supreme Court will realize that a majority of Americans don’t agree with them.