Through recent years and the past election cycle, it’s become increasingly clear that the Republican Party is running further and further from the direction of the American electorate. Up until now, this conclusion seemed to be clear to everyone except those actually running the party, but new information suggests that they may finally be getting the message.
Recently David Kochel, a Republican strategist and the Romney Iowa Campaign Senior Adviser, made a landmark statement to Iowa news network “The Insider” countering the views of the party.
The veteran Republican was involved with organizing an event for the Iowa Republicans for Freedom, a group whose views differ from those of many other Republicans. The event featured Ken Mehlman, former Republican National Committee Chairman to George W. Bush and a same-sex marriage advocate.
After the 2012 elections, in which no Republican presidential candidate openly supported same-sex marriage, Kochel finally admitted, “The culture wars are over. And the Republicans, largely, lost.” With hopes that his party will accept the changing demographics and changing ideals in this country, he plans to lead Iowa through this shift.
Kochel went on to say, “If we’re the party of freedom and liberty, then we should be for personal freedom and individual liberty. And that extends to, you know, marriage, as far as I’m concerned.”
Sounds good, but we can’t be naive enough to believe that Republicans moving away from strict conservative morals are doing so because of personal beliefs. The move is strictly strategic.
Interestingly, some top Republican donors are gay or supportive of marriage equality. In 2011, billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined forces with hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb to influence New York senators’ votes on the marriage measure with $1.25 million in campaign donations. Without these wealthy, gay-supporting Republicans, it’s likely the marriage act would not have been passed.
Republicans voting for marriage equality? It’s not just shocking; it’s literally against what the party stands for. The 2012 Republican Platform specifically states: “We reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
What’s next for Republicans? Is supporting gun control and immigration too much of a leap? Maybe not. Last week the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he supports improving the federal background-check system for gun buyers. The same day, the first bipartisan gun control bill was introduced to the House. The bill would make gun trafficking a federal crime.
As for immigration, a new Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of Republicans support comprehensive immigration reform — unless however, Obama supports it as well. Then their support drops to 39 percent. Possibly torn between which voters to please, Republicans are caught in an awkward place.
Can we also expect a movement of pro-choice Republicans in the future? Polling from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 70 percent of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned and 54 percent say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
This doesn’t bode well for Republicans who ran on the 2012 platform stating “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” It will be interesting to see how the party deals with this evident disagreement between them and everyone else.
It seems that at this point, the party doesn’t collaboratively stand for anything except trying to regenerate public support. Republicans have their backs against a wall. If they don’t adjust their policies to match public opinion then they run the risk of devastation in future elections.
But if they do start to follow the public opinion of the country, there is sure to be major conflict likely to divide the party known for its unyielding unity.