The Walls Close In
A News Roundup
Over at Symposium, I just posted an interesting interview with Damon Linker, a former religious conservative who has moved to the center-left, about the history of the conservative movement.
One of the things we touched on was the problem I discussed recently elsewhere: By failing to be competitive in states like Florida, Democrats have left too many state governments to the unchecked control of the craziest fringes of the right.
Here’s one result: Conservative activists attempting to build a kind of abortion Berlin Wall.
More than a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned, many conservatives have grown frustrated by the number of people able to circumvent antiabortion laws—with some advocates grasping for even stricter measures they hope will fully eradicate abortion nationwide.
That frustration is driving a new strategy in heavily conservative cities and counties across Texas. Designed by the architects of the state’s “heartbeat” ban that took effect months before Roe fell, ordinances like the one proposed in Llano—where some 80 percent of voters in the county backed President Donald Trump in 2020—make it illegal to transport anyone to get an abortion on roads within the city or county limits. The laws allow any private citizen to sue a person or organization they suspect of violating the ordinance.
Antiabortion advocates behind the measure are targeting regions along interstates and in areas with airports, with the goal of blocking off the main arteries out of Texas and keeping pregnant women hemmed within the confines of their antiabortion state. These provisions have already passed in two counties and two cities, creating legal risk for those traveling on major highways including Interstate 20 and Route 84, which head toward New Mexico, where abortion remains legal and new clinics have opened to accommodate Texas women. Several more jurisdictions are expected to vote on the measure in the coming weeks.
“This really is building a wall to stop abortion trafficking,” said Mark Lee Dickson, the antiabortion activist behind the effort.
I don’t know if you could come up with a clearer case against anti-abortion laws than to point out that their enforcement literally requires totalitarian-style restrictions on interstate travel.
The New Dividing Lines
But the really interesting focus of our discussion was on the fading of race as a key dividing line in American politics. That’s something I’ve been longing for and working at for a long time. But it’s like that old story about wishing on a monkey’s paw. You get what you wanted, but not in the way you wanted.