He wasn't talking about glass-strewn streets of Ferguson or Show-Me State Governor Jay Nixon's feckless, irresponsible handling of that situation. No, the real problem is the state's "rapid rightward shift." A cursory review of Lee's "logic" reveals that what has really happened is that Democrats have long since left the center.
Lee is appalled at that Republicans are getting their way in the state (bolds are mine):
In just four weeks, Missouri has carried out an execution, imposed a 72-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions, expanded gun rights and become the poster child for the militarization of police and racial discord. Its public school system is struggling beneath the weight of an ongoing funding crisis, and an entire local police force is under federal investigation.
While the killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a small-city cop and the fiery protests and heavy-handed police response that followed has drawn national attention and scorn, the incident is but a glimpse into the current social and political mess in the ‘Show-Me State.’
Lawmakers on Thursday delivered Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon a 16-hour blistering legislative veto session, overriding a record number of his earlier vetoes – 47 in all. In doing so, the Republican-controlled Legislature in a broad stroke expanded gun laws that could allow teachers to carry guns into the classroom and became one of the most repressive states in terms of a woman’s right to abortion.
In 30 days, women seeking an abortion must wait 72 hours to get one. The law is among the most stringent in the nation and puts Missouri among South Dakota and Utah as the only states that make women wait three full days before terminating an unwanted pregnancy.
The literal scorched earth in Ferguson, where Brown’s killing set off more than a month of protests and clashes, and the figurative burning in the State House, seems indicative of just how deep the state’s troubles have risen.
I suppose it's impolite, but we'll go ahead anyway and point out that Governor Nixon was quite okay with police militarization until it became visibly unpopular.
Missouri's rightward shift has hardly been "rapid." The last time it gave its electoral votes to a Democratic presidential candidate was 1996. Each house of the legislature is roughly two-thirds Republican. That didn't happen overnight.
As to Ferguson's relevance, a "rightward shift" in response to lawlessness is not unusual. Should we really be surprised that a number of people might be turned off by a party which all too often seems to be on the side of thugs and brutes?
If he would have taken his own words seriously, Lee would have realized that his own prose in a later paragraph disproves his "rapid rightward shift" premise:
Decades ago Democrats ruled both houses of the State Legislature. They were Missouri Democrats for certain – the yellow dog sort who were pro-life and pro-gun but, Democrats nonetheless. They formed an odd family with big-city Democrats from St. Louis and Kansas city, walling off Republican control. But soon the Republicans began to gain support and momentum behind drawing tighter around core conservative values and drawing the contrasts between the national Democratic Party and themselves, putting pressure on old-line Democrats who would be considered Republicans by most litmus tests.
What Lee is really saying is that the Democratic Party made a fairly hasty "leftward shift" by purging "yellow dogs" who were pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. Given that those two matters are "core values," those affected pretty suddenly had no home in the Democratic Party.
Read what you wrote, Mr. Lee. It's the Democrats who changed, and radically so.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.