Have State Legislatures Gone Rogue?
Just over a month ago, the story of two lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee legislature captured headlines across the country. Their offense wasn’t corruption or criminal activity—instead, they had joined a protest at the statehouse in favor of gun control, shortly after the Nashville shooting at a Christian school. Earlier this week, Representative Zooey Zephyr, of Montana, was barred from the House chamber after making a speech against a trans health-care ban. In the past few years, in Arizona, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, legislatures have worked to strip powers from state officials who happen to be Democrats in order to put those powers in Republican hands. Jacob Grumbach, a political-science professor and the author of “Laboratories Against Democracy,” talks about how state politics has become nationalized. “If you’re a politician, and you’re trying to rise in the ranks from the local or state level in your party,” he notes, “your best bet is to join the national culture wars”—even at the expense of constituents’ real concerns.