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Feb 28 2014

How Times Have Changed

10 years ago, when the same-sex marriage issue became a huge wedge issue that Republicans used to drive their people to the voting booths, it would seem almost impossible how much things have changed. But look at how Republican power brokers are reacting to the spate of anti-gay “religious freedom” laws being proposed in the states:

As Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer weighs whether to sign a bill that would allow businesses to deny services to gay customers, top national Republicans just want the issue to go away.

Proponents of the legislation — which Brewer has until Saturday to sign or veto and is reportedly leaning against — say the bill is designed to protect religious liberty. But many Washington Republicans see it as a political loser, giving the left another cudgel to attack conservatives as intolerant while motivating liberals and younger voters ahead of the midterm elections. It also threatens to widen the chasm between social conservatives and GOP operatives, who have become increasingly public in their support for gay marriage…

The state’s Republican senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, are prodding the governor to veto the bill on financial grounds, warning that boycotts of Arizona could do untold economic damage to the state. They even worried about losing next year’s Super Bowl.

“I know that the entire business community is galvanized, in a way that I’ve never seen, against this legislation,” said McCain.

“I hope she moves quickly,” Flake said. “I just don’t see any reason to wait.”…

A Republican strategist active in congressional races said the bill will most likely be a nonfactor in the midterms if Brewer vetoes it. Boycott threats and strong opposition from the business community in Arizona could deter other states from taking up similar legislation.

“If it becomes law, it will be a big issue,” the person said. “All indications are that she’s likely to veto it, and if she does … eight months from now, it’s pretty much ancient history.”

“The idea that someone in Montana, or North Carolina or Alaska will predicate their vote for Senate on a law in a state 2,000 miles away is crazy,” said GOP consultant Brian Walsh.

If Brewer signs the legislation, the major concern of party strategists is that opponents would launch an effort to overturn it. A referendum in November would allow the debate about whether denying services to gays is discriminatory to simmer through November, drawing global attention and increasing turnout among younger, liberal voters. This could complicate GOP hopes of holding the open governorship and picking up targeted House seats.

Others say the controversy comes at a bad time for the party. Mark McKinnon, ad maker for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, said “the GOP rebranding effort is [the] classic one step forward, two steps back.”

“In this country, the arc of human rights always bends forward, never backwards,” said McKinnon, a co-founder of the centrist group No Labels. “So these kinds of incidents are always backward steps for the Republican Party because they remind voters they are stuck in the past.”

Republican consultant Steve Schmidt, a supporter of gay marriage rights who was McCain’s senior strategist on his 2008 presidential campaign, called the bill a political mess.

“It makes the party of Lincoln and Reagan look small, closed and intolerant and exacerbates our political differences with every single demographic group in America that is growing,” he said.

Mike Murphy, another prominent GOP strategist, said the bill makes holding the party’s 2016 convention in Phoenix “a terrible idea.”

“Bill should be vetoed and buried,” he emailed. “Bad on merits and politically it gives the Democrats a useful wedge issue.”

This is part of the ongoing battle for the soul of the Republican party and it reinforces the bind the party leadership is in. They don’t want to alienate their anti-gay base but they also don’t want to chase away younger voters and independent voters, who view this kind of thing as old-fashioned and ridiculous. A lot has changed in a decade.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    The GOP has painted themselves into a very uncomfortable corner.

    How sad >:-D

  2. 2
    democommie

    John Fucking McCain; what an absolute piece-of-shit. He should have been racing around the state trumpeting his disapproval BEFORE the fucking bill passed in the lege. Oh, that’s right, being re-elected to represent the people is actually more important than, um, representing the people.

    KKKonservatives and KKKristians: Wrong on slavery; wrong on blacks and women getting the vote; wrong on blacks and whites getting married; wrong on racial segregation; wrong on wars against countries that have not attacked us; wrong on obnoxious and public displays of servile patriotism and pretty much everything else that they have supported since around 1964. Assholes.

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    Let’s be clear here, Steve Schmidt, Mike Muprhy, and Mark McKinnon have never been representative Republicans since the W. Bush-era began. Far, far, far from it. They are the Republicans the GOP presents to audiences of moderates and liberals to present a false face for the party.

    Sen. McCain’s pointing out how monolithic the business community is in striking down the AZ initiative also reveals a couple of things. One is that we still don’t see Republican politicians doing the right thing, which is standing up to defend the equal rights of gay people; instead they’re merely following the edicts of their financial constituency. Their inability to even acknowledge gays and their inalienable rights once again illustrates how morally bankrupt both the Republican party and conservative Christians remain.

    And progress on gay rights continues to be made because Democrats nominate liberal federal judges who apply the equal protection clause and the due process clauses to gay rights controversies, something federal judges get while gay rights advocates still ignore or remain ignorant of for gay rights debates at the state level.

    We should remain confident that conservatives in the GOP remain committed to promoting bigotry towards gay people, Muslims, non-whites, women, and secularists – especially non-deists like atheists and agnostics. At least as along as conservative Christians enjoy a majority or least a plurality of their voting base. For this reason, along with the party’s denialism towards science and economics, refugees from the GOP like myself should not be consider returning to the fold. In fact the GOP denialism towards the facts of climate change still makes them leading candidates for making this generation the worst the world has ever encountered in recorded history.

  4. 4
    lofgren

    The antigay base will get smaller and smaller. They should go ahead and offend them. Of course that will mean losing to Democrats in greater numbers for a few cycles, but then they will be in a better position to even out the polls. If they continue to appeal to the base on this issue, they’ll lose less in the short term but once that group dies off or otherwise shrinks to the point that they can never realistically carry a contested election, the party will be forced to court independents and young people anyway, and they’ll be another decade behind.

  5. 5
    dugglebogey

    They went thorough exactly the same “troubles” with the civil rights movement and came out of it just fine. There’s no reason to think they won’t just change their public policy while still acting bigoted in private quarters and this issue will disappear entirely from the public arena.

  6. 6
    busterggi

    “They went thorough exactly the same “troubles” with the civil rights movement and came out of it just fine. ”

    Actually dugglebogey it was the Democrats that really had trouble with the civil rights movement – cost the party the Dixiecrat south which is now the core of the GOP. I really doubt the bigots will flee from their Republican refuge back to the Democratic party which they hate even more.

    Though I expect the country will come out just fine.

  7. 7
    Modusoperandi

    Mark McKinnon, ad maker for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, said “the GOP rebranding effort is [the] classic one step forward, two steps back.”

    When was the “step forward”?

     

    “It makes the party of Lincoln and Reagan look small, closed and intolerant and exacerbates our political differences with every single demographic group in America that is growing,” he said.

    Reagan had Lee Atwater. Lee. Atwater.

     
    Michael Heath “Sen. McCain’s pointing out how monolithic the business community is in striking down the AZ initiative also reveals a couple of things. One is that we still don’t see Republican politicians doing the right thing, which is standing up to defend the equal rights of gay people; instead they’re merely following the edicts of their financial constituency. Their inability to even acknowledge gays and their inalienable rights once again illustrates how morally bankrupt both the Republican party and conservative Christians remain.”
    Exactly. For the gayhomos to have a voice in the GOP, they should band together and form an LLC (“HomoCorp”).

  8. 8
    demonhauntedworld

    Hard to believe that anyone still uses the whole “Party of Lincoln” thing, never mind takes it seriously.

    The GOP hasn’t been the “Party of Lincoln” since at least Nixon.

  9. 9
    dhall

    I wish they would stop putting Lincoln and Reagan together like that. In Lincoln’s time, the Republican Party was the liberal party. The party of Lincoln wouldn’t even recognize the present-day GOP.

  10. 10
    laurentweppe

    10 years ago, when the same-sex marriage issue became a huge wedge issue that Republicans used to drive their people to the voting booths, it would seem almost impossible how much things have changed.

    Wasn’t it Andrew Sullivan who said back then something like “Now they lust for a fight, ten years from now they’ll run away from the issue, twenty years from now they’ll say they changed their minds, thirty years from now they’ll say they were always in favor of gay marriage, and fourty years from now, they’ll say it was their idea to begin with“?

  11. 11
    Ouabache

    but they also don’t want to chase away younger voters and independent voters

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that boat has already sailed. Young voters are put off by the social conservative nonsense and the independent voters have been expelled by the Tea Party’s demand for ideological purity. The Republican party is going to have a very rude awakening in the next couple of elections.

  12. 12
    naturalcynic

    The party of st. ronnie WAS small, closed and intolerant You mean that you don’t remember that AIDS wasn’t a problem until Rock Hudson came out???

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    not only was AIDS “not a problem” but the cabinet of Ronnie literally LAUGHED at the very idea of it. Repeatedly.

  14. 14
    leonardschneider

    10 years ago, when the same-sex marriage issue became a huge wedge issue that Republicans used to drive their people to the voting booths, it would seem almost impossible how much things have changed.

    In a weird way, I guess I was lucky. Being raised Unitarian, I took gay and lesbian marriages as a matter of course; the Unitarians were performing LGBT wedding services back in the ’70s. Growing up with it, it was just something that happened: “Oh, Larry and Earl are tying the knot, how nice.” Obviously there was no legally binding paperwork, and there was no recognition on the part of the state, but there were plenty of couples who wanted to get up in front of their friends and families and say, “We’re together, for as long as we live.” An important gesture for the couples, and cool of the church for providing the services.

    (The Unitarians drew in lots of LGBT members back in the ’70s and ’80s. They could hold onto and express their faith, without being given a ration of shit for being who they were, like they’d have got at their original churches. The Unitarians, having no dogma whatsoever, welcomed them — and anybody, really — with open arms.)

    That might freak out the conservative Christians the most. Hey, there are gay and lesbian couples out there who have been married for fuckin’ decades now — have they ever done anything to bug you, honestly? (Besides their very existence, which is your own damn problem?) Yeah, didn’t think so. Now shut up and let ‘em get married legally.

  15. 15
    D. C. Sessions

    The antigay base will get smaller and smaller. They should go ahead and offend them. Of course that will mean losing to Democrats in greater numbers for a few cycles

    It’s won’t mean losing to Democrats, it will mean losing primaries to someone farther to the right.

    The problem isn’t that the reactionaries have a majority of the Party, it’s that they have a majority of those who show up before the general election. Not just the primary elections, but the candidate selection process that goes on before anyone outside the activist core of the Party even hears about the names on the primary ballot.

    There aren’t enough plutocrats to do the day-to-day work of a political party, and there’s a limit to how many people they can hire to front for them. On the other hand, the religious Right has an army of stay-at-home mothers, retired people, and entire congregations of their churches. With full-time organizers at the pulpit who get together regularly anyway.

    It’s going to take a lot more than a simple majority of the Party to pry them loose from the steering wheel.

  16. 16
    lofgren

    It’s won’t mean losing to Democrats, it will mean losing primaries to someone farther to the right.

    Oh, I agree. But while the plutocrats don’t have the numbers, there’s nobody else with their power to propagate a message. If they send the message that gay rights are a done deal, the religious right will get on board.

    If you doubt me, just look at how they have managed to transform the religious right in the past 30 or 60 years.

  17. 17
    moarscienceplz

    This is part of the ongoing battle for the soul of the Republican party

    Even if I believed in the existence of souls, you would never convince me that the GOP has one.

  18. 18
    Modusoperandi

    leonardschneider “The Unitarians, having no dogma whatsoever…”
    That sounds awfully dogmatic to me.

  19. 19
    whheydt

    Old Unitarian joke…

    Catholics pray to Mary.
    Protestants pray to God.
    Unitarians pray To Whom It May Concern.

    Actually, back in the ’60s, Unitarians varied widely. In Eastern Europe, Unitarians were, basically, mainstream Protestants. On the East Coast of the US, Unitarians were liberal Protestants. In the US Southwest and West, Unitarians were whatever they damned well pleased.

    In Abilene, TX in the mid-’50s, the local Unitarians included all the local oil geologists, since the Unitarians *weren’t* YECs, but the rest of the local churches were.

  20. 20
    Ichthyic

    it was the Democrats that really had trouble with the civil rights movement – cost the party the Dixiecrat south

    you’re wrong. it was bigots that had trouble with the civil rights movement, they still do.

    The dems finally figured out it wasn’t worth listening to bigots.

    The GoP instead embraced them and said, “Hey, if you don’t want ‘em, we’ll take ‘em”

    and now they have transformed them into teabaggers for the cause.

    great work, everyone.

    phht.

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