Credit: Damon Winter / The New York Times

The easy and obvious way to understand the various Republican power grabs underway in states across the country is to look at them as attempts to secure as much unaccountable political power as possible and to curtail the expression of identities and beliefs Republicans find objectionable. That’s how we get the “Don’t Say Gay” laws and attacks on gender-affirming care and aggressive efforts to gerrymander entire state legislatures.

But there is another angle you can take on the Republicans’ use of state power to limit political representation for their opponents or limit the bodily autonomy of women or impose traditional and hierarchical gender relations on those who would prefer to live free of them. You could say the point is the cultivation of political despair.

Now, it is too much to say that this is premeditated, although you do not have to look hard to find Republican officeholders expressing the belief that political participation should be made more onerous.

At the same time, it is hard not to miss the degree […]

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