It continually brings me up short to realize I am in the same age range, often even much older, than these conservative white men rampaging to turn this country back to 1953. I was in high school in 1973 when Roe vs Wade legalized abortion. Yes, in suburban NY, but I’m pretty sure boys my age, even in conservative Christian states, were also living to get girls to bed and many did. Abortion rates in these states were just as high as in NY. They came to adulthood in the 80s and 90s, where old friends from HS came out and they were finally exposed to LGBT people at work and on screen. (They watch the same TV in red states as blue states.) Some of our most right-wing leaders went to Harvard or Yale or Princeton, thoroughly exposed to progressive thinking and diverse peers.
Have they really never gone to a doctor named Patel? Employed (or work for) the hardest-working ethnic group ever, Latinx people? Cheer on and worship black entertainers and athletes and work with “regular” black people? Have they really had no family members come out to them? Did their wives and sisters and daughters never have miscarriages requiring a D&C? Have they known absolutely no women who have been raped? Had mistresses that needed abortions? No sons or daughters who “had” to get married and subsequently divorced, marring the lives of what was their unplanned (unwanted) child? Have they known no one who has killed themselves with a firearm? Lost family members to addiction? Do they not have children and grandchildren they are afraid for as they go to school everyday?
I understood the Strom Thurmonds and Jesse Helms of my youth. They truly were logical products of their time and place. But the thousands of red state legislators, many much younger than me, make no sense to me. How did they harden into cultural retrogressives who don’t even respect basic democracy?
These are rhetorical questions. I get all the reasons as they might be spelled out in the New Yorker and the Atlantic. I’ve read all the articles and penned some explanations myself.
But I don’t, on a visceral level, get it.