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The center cannot hold


The perversities of American politics are laid bare by the fact that the first state to functionally ban abortion in contemporary times barely even has a majority of Republican votes, let alone a majority of Republicans (We should never forget that voter suppression, legal and illegal, make those two categories quite different from each other).

Donald Trump got 52% of the vote in Texas last year. Ted Cruz got 50.1% of the vote against Beto O’Rourke. It’s a red state in the same way that Pennsylvania and Michigan are blue states: barely.

Now try to imagine something analogous to this Texas abortion law — that is a law that utterly outrages the Republican minority — passing in those latter states. I suppose an analogy would be something like a law banning private gun ownership. It’s impossible to imagine that, for a reason that’s fundamental to the asymmetrical structure of political power in this country: Politics in America are slanted toward Republicans, meaning conservative white people, so completely that the only way something Republicans viscerally oppose can ever get enacted is if basically 100% of everybody who isn’t a Republican favors it strongly, and probably not even then.

And this is because the game is rigged.

The game is rigged structurally at the constitutional level, by the composition of the Senate, and therefore the Electoral College.

It’s rigged functionally at the state level, because Republicans are much better at ruthless politics than Democrats. For example, state legislatures and Congressional districts are radically gerrymandered by Republicans, in a way that they rarely are when Democrats hold similar majorities during periods of electoral redistricting.

It’s rigged at the judicial level, again because Republicans are Machiavellian while Democrats are plagued by clueless institutionalist goo-goos like Stephen Breyer and shameless narcissistic egomaniacs like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and, again, Democrats don’t have the ruthlessness to twist arms until shoulders dislocate when the stakes are high enough.

It’s rigged at the level of the media, both mass and elite, for complicated reasons that include the fact that the people who own the most important media outlets are by definition plutocrats, and the Republican party is the natural home of extremely rich people.

Other reasons include, once again, right wing focus and ruthless commitment: It’s impossible to imagine a liberal version of Fox, because liberals are constitutionally incapable of maintaining the level of self-conscious, semi-conscious, and unconscious ideological commitment necessary to maintain the kayfabe that something like Fox is a legitimate news organization, as opposed to the propaganda wing of the Republican party.

And it’s rigged at the most basic sociological level, because everything above is ultimately enabled by the fact that white people in America are the most important people in every sense, so the party of white people (the Republican party) can get away with all kinds of things that the party of the Others (the Democrats) can’t.

So here we are.

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