REMINDER: Midterm elections are on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. All House seats (435 representatives) and 35 out of 100 Senate seats are on the ballot this year. More voting information at the end of this article.
On Sept. 13, 2022, The New York Times reported that Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) brought a bill to the Senate. This particular bill, as detailed on Graham’s official Senate website, would essentially ban abortion across the United States, as Politico details. Though Graham stated that his bill will restrict most cases before 15 weeks, it is highly unlikely that these exceptions will gain access to an abortion. His proposal comes at a time of extreme political contention—a tug of war over which party will gain control of the House and the Senate. With the investigation into Trump and his associates underway, the Republican Party (GOP) has started to fracture between Trump loyalists and dissidents, leaving the elected status of many (former and current) Trump allies hanging in the balance.
In an attempt to quell the unease surrounding the GOP, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) began to run on a platform for reducing inflation, rather than the pressing issue of abortion rights. McConnell even went on to say, “I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” according to The Washington Post. As of now, the GOP would rather steer attention away from the issue of stolen bodily autonomy and instead focus on economic recovery.
The GOP now has two enemies: the Democratic Party and themselves. Fox News revealed that McConnell does not believe the Republicans are supporting “quality” candidates. This statement, as reported by Politico, was very publicly rejected by Senator Rick Scott. This tension demonstrates the growing disagreement within the party and shows cracks of inconsistency in party members’ stances, even as they attempt to put up a united front. Graham’s comments could be used as ammunition for his Republican colleagues as they compete for various positions across the country. His competitors now have the opportunity to solidify their stances as “pro-choice” (which would be untrue) to conform with the general views of the public and to drive voters away from Graham. Not to mention, his Democratic opponents can use his rashness to bolster support for their party and show that the GOP does not support the majority view of the voters.
Though Graham has recently been adamant about restricting abortion access, Time details that he has also stated in the past that he believed that abortion laws should be decided by individual states, rather than on a national level. His switch in opinion is reminiscent of a recent trend within the GOP—a trend of inconsistency. If anything, his reversal shows how deeply corruption runs in today’s politics. It highlights how politicians are willing to twist and warp their opinions into a lie merely to gain favor with voters and thus more power for personal gain (as opposed to serving the public). That level of inconsistency should raise many alarms in the eyes of voters, especially now, though this pattern has been developing for quite some time, as shown by AP News. It’s been brewing even before the Jan. 6 Committee was formed and an investigation began, per The Washington Post. This trend can be used as key evidence in the eventual prosecution of government officials who enabled the insurrection. Prosecutors can use their frequent backtracking to highlight how their recent condemnation of the insurrection is a self-serving move; it’s a lie, meant to deflect from their involvement and to avoid punishment for their collusion.
Graham knows that his bill is unlikely to pass due to public opinion, as reflected in a survey done by the Pew Research Center, and the fact that a national law on abortion is a stretch, as The News & Observer notes. So why even announce it? Why publicize it? Power. Graham’s proposal is, at its core, a reach for power, according to The Hill. Proposing this bill is meant to convince voters of his core beliefs and to persuade them to support him. He is essentially telling voters that he will use his elected power to push for such a bill in the future, even though it’s unlikely to pass now. It’s a hollow promise, but also an attempt to ramp up conservative voters and to spur on this battle for political power.
As seen in FiveThirtyEight, GOP infighting has provided the perfect opportunity for current and former Trump-backers to ramp up their aggressive campaigning as midterm elections get closer and closer. Graham’s approach to abortion—making his opinion very clear to the public—is an attempt to solidify his position in the now-uncertain future of the Republican party and to force his fellow Republicans to unite around a singular stance. In other words, he wants to look strong in front of the nation. His plan backfired.
What seemed to be a move of political prowess to galvanize voters turned into free fuel for Democrats to set his campaign ablaze during these tight races. According to AP News, the White House issued a statement on Sept. 22, 2022, saying that Graham’s bill would become a catalyst for a national health care emergency. In a recent NBC News poll, voters reported that they trust Democrats more to protect not only abortion but also issues of climate change, healthcare and maintaining democracy. But that’s still not reassuring enough. The same poll also reported that voters trust Republicans to act on crime and economic issues.
Reporting from The New York Times shows that voting laws are explicitly under attack. Bodily autonomy is under attack. The New York Times also warns that candidates are openly and overtly stating that they will not accept election results, so I’m not exaggerating when I say that every vote counts. For those not from New York, it is incredibly important to vote with an absentee ballot. For more information visit: https://www.usa.gov/absentee-voting. If you are not registered to vote, please visit https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote to get started.