Red States and Blue States Are Becoming Different Countries

It seems obvious to say, but if you want a real sense of the differences between America’s two major parties — and if you want a sense of what the future could bring if either party wins full control of the federal government next year — all you have to do is look at the states.

Where Republicans have gained this kind of full control over state legislatures and statehouses, they have used that authority in pursuit of policies meant to curtail the ability of people in their states to live as they please.

You know what this looks like. It’s the “anti-woke” policymaking of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Florida, from laws that stigmatize L.G.B.T.Q. students and teachers in public school classrooms to an assault on higher education that has driven professors out of state. “What we are witnessing in Florida is an intellectual reign of terror,” LeRoy Pernell, a law professor at Florida A&M University, said in an interview with a special committee of the American Association of University Professors.

It’s not just Florida, of course. Republican trifectas in states across the country have introduced and passed dozens of bills aimed at the public existence of trans and other gender-nonconforming people. Republicans in Oklahoma banned the use of nonbinary gender identifiers on birth certificates; Republicans in Tennessee, similarly, banned trans people from changing their gender on their birth certificates. Republicans in Arkansas and Alabama have passed laws that ban gender-affirming care for young trans people, and Republicans in Texas have gone as far as to say that under state law, gender-affirming care can legally constitute child abuse.

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