With Roe v. Wade overturned, Republicans must choose evolution or irrelevance

·4 min read

The reversal of Roe v. Wade might look like an ascendant moment for conservatives, but my guess is we’re looking at the end of the Republican Party as we know it.

The signs are abounding: The GOP will have to evolve or face irrelevance.

We’re seeing workers unionize across the nation to improve labor conditions and pay. We’ve seen the rise of a new civil rights movement that invigorated liberal voters to take the White House and Senate in 2020. And we’re seeing Republicans react by going past their typical gerrymandering and race-baiting strategies to flat-out lying about the outcome of a legitimate election and ransacking the U.S. Capitol.

The next push of political activism could be all it takes to expand Democratic congressional margins and start taking statehouses in upcoming elections.

GOP has a desperate response to this movement

The liberal anger-to-engagement momentum has been building for most of a generation, but the abortion reaction stands to be something different.

The union push is a natural outgrowth of the Occupy protest movement of the 2010s. Occupy was largely disaffected white males demanding a narrowing of the wealth gap.

It’s expanded significantly.

College football players have forced out a university president (Missouri in 2015) and attempted to from a labor union (Northwestern in 2016). Teachers’ unions have swarmed state capitols, including tens of thousands in Arizona who chanted “Red for Ed” in a massive, statewide walkout. And Starbucks workers are dominating headlines by organizing in a long-brewing shop-by-shop push. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Arizona Republic Guild and a member of our bargaining committee.)

Another view: Which Arizona abortion law will women face? Clarify this now

Likewise, the outrage over police killings of unarmed Black men rocked the nation with violent protests, starting in 2014. But by 2020, those fires had turned into the fuel that propelled minority voters to help President Joe Biden take Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin – plus Senate races in several swing states.

The GOP response has been pure desperation, starting with the “big lie,” Donald Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. The Washington Post reported this month that about a third of the way through primary season, voters have chosen more than 100 candidates for statewide or national office “who have repeated Trump’s lies.”

“The number jumps to at least 149 winning candidates – out of more than 170 races – when it includes those who have campaigned on a platform of tightening voting rules … despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud,” the Post noted.

Abortion crosses party lines. That could help Dems

Protesters chant during a rally at the Arizona Capitol in favor of keeping abortion legal. A leaked opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to show the court was favoring overturning landmark Roe v. Wade.
Protesters chant during a rally at the Arizona Capitol in favor of keeping abortion legal. A leaked opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to show the court was favoring overturning landmark Roe v. Wade.

The strategy shows that conservatives don’t trust the familiar flashpoints of national defense, small government, business incentives, God, guns, “Back the Blue” and border security to overcome a coalition of voters united by economics and equality.

Now, add to that mix women who see a reversal of Roe as an infringement on their personal autonomy.

We’ve already seen pro-choice, “bans off our bodies” rallies around the nation.

And unlike the traditional ties that connect both labor and Black voters to the Democratic Party, abortion crosses political lines.

Banding together: Abortion providers vow to help each other after Roe

Widely accepted estimates show that about 1 in 4 women will have an abortion. They aren’t all liberals.

If suburban white women, the voters we used to call “soccer moms,” join in with a younger, louder crowd of women upset over the decision to overturn Roe, it will create Democratic advantages that could result in midterm success for the party in power.

(Assuming liberals harness the energy without going too far left on the ideological spectrum.)

Restrictive new laws could backfire for the GOP

Supreme Court decisions aren’t supposed to be political, but when the composition of the bench can be traced directly to obstructionist tactics from Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and others, there’s no way to uncouple the anger – especially as we see conservative-dominated state Legislatures roll back abortion protections.

In Arizona, a new law bans abortion after 15 weeks. Similarly restrictive measures have advanced in Florida, Idaho, Mississippi and elsewhere. The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state law, says that 19 states have legislation that prohibits abortion in the absence of Roe.

The ironic thing is that claims of “judicial activism” have largely been used for conservative leverage.

Now, a reversal of the concept is poised to be the thing that forces the GOP into evolution or irrelevance.

Reach Moore at gmoore@azcentral.com or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Overturning Roe may be the end of the Republican Party