In a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News, “Major Republican donors, including some who have contributed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaigns, joined other conservative Texans in signing an open letter supporting congressional action to increase gun restrictions in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead last week.” The letter “endorses the creation of red-flag laws, expanding background checks and raising the age to purchase a gun to 21. More than 250 self-declared gun enthusiasts signed it.”
This article from Bolts Magazine demonstrates just how unabashed Republican efforts to entrench the party and its policies are at this political moment. In this instance, the goal is to prevent South Dakotans from side-stepping the Republican controlled legislature to pass Medicaid expansion through ballot initiative by changing the Constitution. Since 2018, voters in Republican controlled Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah have all adopted Medicaid expansion through ballot initiatives. This “trigge[ed] intense backlash by Republican politicians against procedures of direct democracy.” Their efforts were successful in Idaho and Utah, and so far also they have also been successful in South Dakota in response to previous initiatives. South Dakota was the first state to adopt the initiative in the 19th century.
Inspired by Progressive Era demands for new checks on politicians, the state’s 1898 reform empowered ordinary citizens to initiate ballot initiatives and it has been used expansively ever since.
Republican politicians have responded by gradually restricting the initiative process.
The article describes the current effort which seeks to raise the threshold of support to 60% for initiatives that significantly impact the state budget. This might make sense in the abstract, but in context, it is stinks of fencing out one’s political opponents and thwarting public priorities.
Public support for gun control, including regulating access to assault-style weapons, is currently extraordinarily high. But will Congress act? It would take ten Republican Senators to break. The odds are not good. And if they did, federal legislation would likely be very weak and its constitutionality uncertain after this term. Still, amidst the gloom, it is worth noting when we see a representative from a district, whose constituents have experienced the horrors of a mass shooting directly, break with the NRA.
Washington Post: “NRA-endorsed Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) broke with the GOP last week and said he now would support an assault weapons ban, magazine capacity limits, raising the age to be able to purchase guns from 18 to 21, and other gun restrictions. The recent shootings in Buffalo and in Uvalde forced him to reevaluate his position on guns, Jacobs told the Buffalo News.
Engaging with one’s constituencies does appear to matter. An under-appreciated cost of campaign fundraising madness is how it pulls elected officials away from spending time in their own districts and listening to their own constituents.
The Post reports further that Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill) made a similar about-face after the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, calling for a ban on bumpstocks. Las Vegas is obviously not his district. Post Uvalde, Kinzinger has stated he is even open to an assault weapons ban.
This new Op Ed by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, highlights, once more, deficits in policy responsiveness that arises out of hyper-polarization, among other things.
Sargent highlights a new study from the Third Way–a centrist Democratic-leaning group–that analyzes the benefits to U.S. families of the top four provisions in the Build Back Better bill in real dollars.
What’s innovative about this study is that it shows ways in which average red state families in particular would benefit from specific BBB policies. Notably, no Republican voted for the version of BBB that passed the House — the basis for this study — and it’s very likely none will vote for it in the Senate.
The Article’s primary focus is on the partisan stakes, but the big picture here is the vicious cycle of low voter turnout, policy responsiveness, apathy, and machine politics.
Across Atlanta, . . . [Just a] year after residents voted in historic numbers to help “turn Georgia blue,” fewer than 3 out 10 turned out for the mayor’s race, despite the widespread desire for a leader who can help the city rebound from a year of setbacks.
Why? A combination of apathy and a failure to mobilize voters around local issues.
Kendra Cotton, chief operating officer for the New Georgia Project, founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, said that her group is still in the process of “educating the electorate that we registered.”
“Folks, particularly when you think about the progressive side of the aisle, have ceded local races, county races, state races and have put an emphasis on national races,” she said.
And the results are predictable:
Younger voters, non-homeowners and newly registered voters in particular . . . didn’t participate, even though the campaign included extensive debate over the future of policing and how to deliver social services in the most populated city in the Deep South.
“Despite the social justice movement that just happened in 2020, it should tell you something that people felt a greater urge of necessity to come out and protest for social change than they did to participate in a local municipal election,” [Atlanta City Council member Antonio] Brown said.