How a New Class of Republicans Could Push America to the Right

Beyond elections and voting issues, these Trump-aligned candidates could shape the country’s policies on abortion, climate change, same-sex marriage and much more.

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This article is part of our Midterms 2022 Daily Briefing


By Blake Hounshell

Much of the attention paid to Donald Trump’s favorite candidates running in the midterms has focused — rightly! — on their support for relitigating the 2020 election. (Which, for those still unsure, was not stolen.)

But across a range of policy issues, including abortion, climate change, same-sex marriage and education, Trump’s MAGA warriors have taken positions that put them on the fringes of the Republican Party — let alone the nation as a whole.

The usual caveats apply: Candidates often say things to win a primary that they then jettison or downplay when facing general-election voters.

But the nature of political partisanship in America has changed over the last decade or so, raising doubts about whether that conventional wisdom still holds. If they are elected in November, the Trump crowd could shove American politics sharply rightward.

Let’s take a look:

Abortion

Nowhere is the starkness of the these candidates’ positions more evident than on abortion, which has become a much more urgent litmus test on the right since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor of Arizona, has said she supports enacting a “carbon copy” of the Texas abortion law in her state. That law does not include exceptions for incest or rape. It also contains an unusual provision that was meant to work around Roe v. Wade before the decision was thrown out in June: Anyone can report someone violating the law and claim a $10,000 bounty from the state.

Blake Masters, who won the G.O.P. nomination for Senate in Arizona, has supported a federal “personhood” law that would establish that fetuses are people. He has also raised questions about whether Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision granting couples the federal right to use contraception, was correctly decided — but he does not support a ban on contraception.

The list goes on: In Georgia, Herschel Walker, the party’s nominee for Senate, has told reporters, “There’s not a national ban on abortion right now, and I think that’s a problem.” Doug Mastriano, who is running for governor of Pennsylvania, introduced a fetal heartbeat bill as a state senator. Again, the bill contained no exceptions for incest or rape.

Climate change

Skepticism of the human impact on the planet’s climate abounds, despite mounting scientific evidence that severe flooding, rising global temperatures, droughts and volatile weather patterns have already arrived.

Mastriano, for instance, has called climate change a “theory” based on “pop science.” Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, has leaned on his background as a doctor to adopt a markedly unscientific pro-carbon position.

Read More on Abortion Issues in America

The “ideology that carbon is bad” is “a lie,” Oz said during a forum among primary candidates in Erie in March. “Carbon dioxide, my friends, is 0.04 percent of our air. That’s not the problem.”

Asked about the Green New Deal during a Georgia campaign event in mid-July, Walker expounded on his own theory about global wind currents that even Fox News found “head scratching.”

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decides to float over to China’s bad air,” Walker said. “So, when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So, it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got to clean that back up.”

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