Choose What State You Live in Carefully
Also: Larry Hogan is wrong about the future of Trumpism.
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1. States’ Rights
The near-term effects of the SCOTUS overturning Roe will be seen in November. Either voters will react to this tectonic shift in politics, or they will not.
I’d be curious as to what you think will happen on this score, because I can see it both ways. On the one hand, I could see a scenario in which suburban college educated voters freak the fork out and swing D while the decision mobilizes the Democratic base into a much higher valence of energy. I could see a narrative emerging that’s something like,
The Republicans are insane. They still want to overturn the 2020 election. They’re nominating candidates who are deeply problematic. And now they want to reshuffle the abortion status quo. They can’t be trusted.
I could see that.
I could also see a world in which there is a lot of energy expended this summer after the decision is released and it quickly dissipates and everyone moves on to the next thing—another “caravan” from Central America, or gas prices, or a rash of shark attacks. Whatever. Look: This country just lost a million people to COVID and that fact barely registers as a political matter because what people really care about is whether or not they’re asked to wear a mask on an airplane.
We are a deeply unserious people. Why would we expect that to change?
But there is a longer-term consequence that is starting to become very clear: For the first time since the days of Jim Crow, it is going to matter a lot what state you live in.
Let me start with a little light both-sidesism.
Both political parties are interested in controlling peoples’ lives. In many places, the Democrats, for instance, want to prevent you from using plastic grocery bags. Democrats forced restaurants to put the number of calories in a dish on restaurant menus. You may recall that in New York City Democrats even wanted to control the maximum size of a soda you could buy. Quelle horreur.
And the Republicans want to exert control over Americans’ lives, too. They want to be able to control the presidency on an ongoing basis with a minority of the popular vote. They want to impose their own rules on how voting may happen, how votes are counted, and even whether or not governmental bodies may choose to reject the results of vote counts. They want to control what the CEOs of private businesses may or may not say in public. They want to criminalize abortion.
So, you know, both sides I guess?
Since neither party is terribly hospitable to libertarian sensibilities, we are entering a period in American life where the state you live in will matter quite a lot in terms of your day-to-day life. If you live in a Democratic state, you will have to deal with various bits of nanny-ism that may or may not annoy you. Your local government might mandate composting. Your House rep might announce her pronouns at a town hall. Some women in your state might get abortions.
If you live in a Republican state, what can be said in your child’s classroom may be dictated by the angriest MAGA Karen. You might have to wait in line to vote for several hours. Your state legislature might have the power to decertify the results of an election.1
For a long time the difference between living in Texas or New Jersey, Florida or California, was one of degrees. You had to take into account the relative tax rates, the climate, the quality of schools, the concentration of jobs.
That era is waning and we are entering a period in which the state you live in will determine more fundamental aspects of your rights as an American citizen.
Which, in turn, seems likely to hasten our geographical self-sorting.
Everyone will make their own decisions as to which kind of state is more congenial to their preferences.
But in the end, it’s not clear to me that such an arrangement is sustainable.
P.S.: This didn’t really fit anywhere, but Susan Collins is either the most dishonest, the most gullible, or the dumbest member of the United States Senate.
That goes right up there with this Collins classic from February 2020:
"I believe that the president has learned from this case," Collins told CBS News anchor Norah O'Donnell. "The president has been impeached — that's a pretty big lesson."
2. The Eternal Sunshine of Larry Hogan’s Mind
Larry Hogan is part of a small clacque of professional Republicans and conservatives who keep readying themselves for a “post-Trump future” that ain’t never coming. These people, who are admirable in many ways, suffer from an inability (or unwillingness) to see the world as it is.
For instance, here is Axios reporting on Hogan’s big speech tonight where he will tease that he might just run for president as a Republican in 2024!
We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
There’s a lot more. Read it if you can stomach this guy.
There are two problems:
(1) Hogan is wrong as a factual matter. Trump has run for president twice and won the White House in half of those races. If Trump runs in 2024, he starts out with at least a 40 percent chance of victory. His odds are probably closer to 50-50. If Trump-clone DeSantis is the nominee, his odds of winning in 2024 are almost certainly north of 50 percent. The reason to oppose Trumpism is not “it doesn’t work.” The reason to oppose Trumpism is because it is anti-democratic.
Larry Hogan cannot bring himself to say this truth. So he has to criticize Trumpism as something that is bad because it was bad for the electoral prospects of the Republican party.
Again: This is factually untrue.
(2) Hogan is a phony. Here’s Hogan lamenting the “phony politics” of Washington:
"The fact that so many politicians know that but repeat the lie is just more of the phony politics that has voters so fed up with Washington in the first place."
But he said "Americans don’t just blame the Democratic Party" for a feeling the country is on the wrong track. "They’re fed up with the divisive politics and the extremes of both parties."
Okay, you got that? Now here’s Hogan on Biden:
He blasts President Biden for promising to govern "from the center and unite the country, but instead he caters to the far-left extremes of his party and flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world." Hogan hits Biden over inflation, crime, and emboldening enemies and rivals from Russia and China to Iran and North Korea.
There are plenty of things to criticize Biden about: Afghanistan. Not fighting for the Child Tax Credit. The COVID booster rollout. Not pushing into export controls against Russia. Take your pick. You want to hit Biden hard on something? How about this:
But there is no conceivable way to look at Biden’s administration as having “catered to the far-left extremes of his party.” The far-left of the Democratic party is more disappointed with Biden than anyone else! Biden has not “flailed from crisis to crisis.” He handled one crisis (Afghanistan) very badly. This was a crisis which he inherited from Trump, because of the pull-out date Trump had agreed to in his capitulation to the Taliban.
The only other crisis has been the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Biden has handled, depending on your level of cynicism, somewhere between adequately and very well.
Hogan knows all of this.2 So why does he criticize Biden in these terms, rather than making valid critiques of the administration?