There’s little denying that the Republican party is going through some growing pains as it heads to the 2014 midterms. They continue to struggle with how they can appeal outside their base to groups like women or minorities, while still keeping their bread and butter far right social conservatives from refusing to come out to vote. The balancing act can be a painful one, but some states are doing it with style. Other states? Well, they just aren’t doing it at all.
In Nevada, what started out as a policy change in one county has now taken over the entire state, which has voted to make its party platform less divisive. Originally only Clark County had made the change to remove both opposition to gay marriage and opposition to abortion as party platform planks. However, the state GOP convention agreed, and both issues have now been removed for the entire Republican party.
Gay marriage opposition has been a losing battle for many GOP activists in a variety of states, as bans have been either voted down or overturned by the courts at a rapid pace in recent years. Public support of marriage rights have been increasing, too, and haven’t been limited just to those who ID as Democrats. With both factors at play, removing active opposition to equal marriage rights from the party platform isn’t surprising in the least.
Abortion, on the other hand, is a little more of a shocker. Although directly opposing abortion wasn’t a GOP plank until the 80s, it had remained a steadfast one, and often the only variation is whether the party stops at just opposing abortion, or endorses full equal rights for the unborn from the moment of conception. The party has been successful in moving multiple abortion bans through half of the states in the country since just the last midterms, and in general seems committed to continuing to do so.
Excluding abortion, however, has nothing to do with the party accepting the necessity of allowing legal, safe access to the procedure to exist, but rather to keep government at arms length from people’s personal lives. “The issue was how can we back out of people’s personal lives,” Dave Hockaday of Lyon County, who sat on the platform committee, told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We need to focus on issues where we can have an impact.”
Of course, not everyone in the GOP agreed with the decision, especially not those from the state Right to Life group. “Republicans in NV have been friends of life and this sends the wrong message to their base,” Don Nelson of Nevada Right to Life, told LifeNews. “The fact is that over 70 percent of republicans are pro-life and a many of them hold their nose and vote for republicans because they have are the pro-life party. Events like this do nothing but further depress the NV Republican vote.”
While Nevada may be working towards more inclusive, non-divisive actions where they can make an “impact,” Wisconsin’s Republican party is doing something a little different: going as far right as they conceivably can. In fact, they may be becoming so extreme they may leave the union all together.
According to the Capital Times, the Wisconsin GOP is putting secession rights up for discussion at the state party convention this year. “Earlier this month, the party’s Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party ‘supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede,’” writes the Cap Times. ”A version of the so-called ‘state sovereignty’ resolution was first OK’d last month by one of the state GOP’s eight regional caucuses as an assertion of the state’s 10th Amendment rights. The measure also calls for ending all mandates that go ‘beyond the scope of the constitutionally delegated powers of the federal government.’”
Rather than being killed off at the county level, it’s now heading to state for full consideration, and at a very uncomfortable time for the Republican party. While secession talk used to be just the province of the far right fringe, rather than an actual plank for the GOP, there’s little doubt that those who really believe states should be able to break free to save themselves from federal “tyranny” are getting both louder and more embedded into the party apparatus. Texas governor Rick Perry bandied about the idea after President Barack Obama’s election, and conservative news outlets’ obsession over standoffs like the militia tent town at the Bundy Ranch over the last few weeks show a growing number of conservatives ready to embrace state’s rights to their most extreme.
Nevada at first glance should appear more likely to win new support with their gentler stance than Wisconsin with their full-throated extremism. Then again, we have to remember that 2010 was the Tea Party sweep, so nothing can be taken for granted.
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