It’s easy to miss with the impeachment trial commanding most of the headlines these days, but Republicans back in your home state are doing some pretty reprehensible things, too.
Here are three things state-level Republicans have been doing that warrant our attention.
They’re punishing Republicans who vote against Trump
State Republican parties are actually taking the official step of censuring Republicans who are taking votes or stances against Trump. So far, the Wyoming state party censured Rep. Liz Cheney, Illinois’ party censured Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Nebraska’s party censured Sen. Ben Sasse, and most recently Louisiana’s state party censured Sen. Bill Cassidy. Which is weird, because Cassidy voted with Trump 90% of the time, but I guess because he voted for the impeachment trial to proceed, that was enough of a betrayal to get hand-slapped by his home state’s party.
Plus, a few weeks ago, the Arizona state party censured Cindy McCain, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Gov. Doug Ducey for objecting to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. One wonders how many more state parties will dole out punishments for not swearing fealty to the former president.
They’re actively pushing against the inclusion of Black history in schools
Specifically, there are 5 states so far that have proposed bills to ban the teaching of any portion of the 1619 Project in any schools, and even withdrawing funding from schools that persist in teaching it. The 1619 Project was a New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning initiative that aimed to reframe U.S. history by putting the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at its center.
Legislators in Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Dakota included language that Trump used in the waning days of his presidency when he attacked the project and attempted to launch a commission to counteract it.
They’re turbo-charging voter suppression efforts
In just the last month, Republican state legislators have proposed 165 bills in 33 states to limit mail-in ballots, implement new voter ID requirements and cut down on voter registration options. The historic turnout of Democrats in 2020 put the Republicans in overdrive and they are wasting no time to restrict access to the ballot box. It’ll come as no surprise to you that the states with the most proposed bills so far are swing states: Arizona leads the pack with 19 proposals, followed by Pennsylvania with 14 and Georgia with 11.
What we can do
I hope I’ve illustrated just how important it is for us to pay attention to what is happening in state politics. These legislators are working to shape our education curriculum in harmful ways and cutting off access to the ballot box. There will be many other ways they push their harmful, anti-democratic agenda. The way we stop these bills from moving forward starts by being aware that it is happening.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to spend a few minutes a day reading whichever newspaper in your state regularly covers what’s happening in your state legislature. To stay on top of education issues, sign up for email updates and newsletters from your local/state teacher unions or advocacy organizations. For voter suppression updates, your local League of Women Voters is a good place to start, as is your local ACLU chapter.
And of course, get the email newsletters your state senator and state representative send out. They generally talk about bills they are proposing or planning to vote for/against. You can find their contact information at Open States.
Thank you for staying engaged in your home state!