We're often having the wrong argument in this cold civil war. The most recent example was the farm bill that came out of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. For the first time in decades, it stripped away food stamps from the legislation. The rationale was to cut federal spending. And yet the bill ended up giving away even more taxpayer dollars to already highly profitable big agribusiness than was proposed by the Senate or the White House. A useful lens for understanding the battles in America might focus on two areas: The bedroom and the commons.
Republicans are obsessed with legislating what happens in the bedroom. Along with their conservative Democrat fellow travelers, they gave us the Defense of Marriage Act and later rode fear of "the gay" to triumph in 2004. Even though the Supreme Court recently struck down DOMA and more Americans are embracing same-sex unions, Republicans keep trying to introduce or defend so-called anti-sodomy laws. One is Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli, who wants to be governor.
The conservative movement is now moving aggressively against abortion in state legislatures, most prominently in Texas and North Carolina. And they are succeeding. No gentle outreach for bipartisanship here: These Republican-controlled statehouses are ramming through draconian legislation, the opposition be damned. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich signed abortion restrictions, placed in a budget bill, surrounded by only men. Kasich is more popular than ever in a state that was once vigorously competitive and he is heavily favored to win re-election.