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They’re getting what they want

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Bouie is absolutely correct that, viewed properly, there is no contradiction between Republicans forcing women to carry pregnancies to term and opposing any support for parents or prospective parents:

The policy correlation is, in fact, what you would expect it to be. As a rule, the states with the most generous safety nets and anti-poverty programs are also the states with the widest access to abortion and other reproductive health services. The states with the most restrictive abortion laws are also, as a rule, the states that do the least for families and children as a matter of public policy.

Another way to make this connection is simply to look at a map of states that continue to refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and compare it with a map of states that outlaw (or effectively outlaw) abortion. The overlap fits the pattern.

This distance — between the rhetoric of “life” and the reality of conservative Republican governance — only looks like hypocrisy. In truth, it is perfectly consistent.

That’s because the Republican ideal of a “pro-family” agenda is girded on traditional hierarchies. Reproductive autonomy, up to and including the right to get an abortion, weakens hierarchies of gender. And the social safety net — especially one that extends directly to mothers and children — undermines the preferred conservative social order of isolated, atomized households kept in line through market discipline.

If the goal of abortion opponents and politicians is to encourage life and promote families, then, yes, their interests and priorities are at odds with their actions. But if the goal is a more rigid and hierarchical world of untrammeled patriarchal authority, then, well, things are pretty much going according to plan.

To think that Republicans are going to pivot to economic populism is to misunderstand the party’s entire project on the most fundamental level. Alas, there will always be willfully gullible writers around to pretend that the great outflankening is about to happen.

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