In a commentary in the British newspaper The Guardian, Katherine Stewart asks why state legislatures are moving rightward while the population of the U.S. "continues to trend moderately leftward."
Her answer: smart, targeted donations from right-wing donors.
Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, and Mississippi are among the latest to impose unprecedented restrictions on women's access to abortion services. All told, in the first three months of this year, 694 provisions related to reproductive health have come before state legislatures, more than half of them involving abortion restrictions.
We are seeing a similar surge of opposition to science education: in Missouri, Montana, Colorado, and Oklahoma, legislators have introduced bills intended to smuggle creationism and religious dogma into public school classrooms. And the Virginia attorney general is seeking to revive anti-sodomy laws: the way the law is written, that also means no oral sex in the Old Dominion, not even for married straight couples.
In contrast, public opinion polls show that support for access to abortion is mostly unchanged, support for school prayer is declining, and support for gay rights has increased sharply.
She reminds us of a story from a few years ago when Art Pope (photo), a wealthy conservative businessman, began to invest heavily in North Carolina politics. The state now has a very conservative legislature and governor, she writes, and Art Pope has just been appointed its budget director.
She notes how the increasing power of the right has shifted discussions about such things as Medicare and Medicaid. Overwhelming majorities support them, but all Washington talks about is how they should be cut.
It's an interesting and disheartening piece. In a county in which one-person-one-vote is apparently being replaced by one-dollar-one-vote, most of us will lose every election. Only the Art Popes will win.