I am fairly certain that the Texas abortion law before the Supreme Court will be struck down. I am equally certain that it will not matter much at all because Texas Republicans have already found that fascism will keep them in power.
As always, there will be people who will quibble about the use of the f-word. I personally draw my definition from the work of Ian Danskin. For convenience’s sake, here’s what I’m working with. Fascism is defined as a political system or ideology based primarily on cementing power in as few people, and as homogenous a group, as possible, with focuses on a possibly mythical lost traditionalism, and the idea that the community is beset on all sides by invasive and subversive forces which must be kept in line. Texas Republican leadership fits this definition perfectly.
This year has seen the starkest shift away from democratic ideals in living memory for the state, and it’s largely driven by the desires of three Republican men to stay in power and avoid consequences for their actions: Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Whether increasing the fascist grip of state authority on residents is something they actually desire or is merely a tool for continued rule is irrelevant because the result is exactly the same.
The direst example is the draconian voter rights and access restrictions passed this year, largely seen as the worst of such laws happening across the nation. While the bill was watered down thanks to public outcry and hardball tactics of Texas liberal politicians, there’s no arguing that it will still significantly reduce the number of people with easy access to the ballot box. The rules openly target marginalized groups, thereby reducing their political say compared to the Republicans’ preferred voters of social privilege and means. There’s a reason Paxton admitted openly that if mail-in voting was more widespread in Texas, the state would have flipped to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Equality is anathema to a fascist system, which is why the leadership is also looking for ways to hamstring vulnerable groups. For instance, Republican leadership in 2021 made attacking trans-Texans a top priority. Fascists love to start their purges with gender-sex minorities as a test balloon, counting on most people’s ignorance of the people to protect the initiatives for oppression. Banning trans high school students from sports may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a pretty good start if your goal is to march towards permanent second-class citizen status like Sherman marching to the sea.
The abortion law as well has deep roots in fascism. Both Hitler and Mussolini avidly sought to curtail reproductive freedom, deeming babies to be a necessary state resource. This has the added benefit of chaining pregnant people in situations where they have fewer options. Someone with small children is less likely to agitate and organize and may have fewer resources to question authority. It also typically serves to create patriarchal homes where men enjoy outsized freedoms and control. This is not an accident of the new law, which adds the bonus of pregnant people being hunted by legally empowered watchdogs into the mix. Trees of liberty do not grow well in the soil of state-sponsored terror, and that’s how “traditionalists” like it.
All this would not normally be a problem because democracy is often a self-correcting system. Now in the age of Trumpism, the most radical and fascist of ideas gets people elected. Even Ken Paxton’s looming legal troubles have not majorly impacted his rule, another aspect of fascism where certain classes are simply immune from the laws the rest of us have to deal with.
The metastasizing of the state into a fascist cancer is happening. The Republican leadership is willingly participating. The window to stop it is closing, and not enough people are terrified to stop it, yet. By the time they are, it may already be too late.