Republicans are experiencing an identity crisis. Like the straight-laced guy at a rave, they just do not know where to stand, who to make friends with and when to go home. However, that all may be about to change. In Nevada this month, the Republican Party showed signs that it is catching on to the current flow of public sentiment.
Though the GOP has long been against same-sex marriage and abortions, there is a faction within the party that is ready to give up the fight, make nice and move on to more important issues. So much so that in the wild, wild west of Nevada the topics have been removed from the party’s platform. Citing a desire to be more inclusive, about half of the delegates present at a convention in Las Vegas on April 12 voted to remove the controversial, yet tired, stance on whether citizens should be allowed to marry whomever they wish and to make their own reproductive choices.
This decision was not made without a heated debate. The other half present are still desirous of maintaining what they refer to as core Republican beliefs. Their fear is that decisions like these will disenfranchise those who have been lifelong and loyal Republicans. The argument from the other side is the concern that continued support of excluding large portions of the population will only serve to drive potential new members away, particularly amongst the young and politically active. As one political director put it, the young voters are fed up with the Democrats fiscal shenanigans and the Republicans social misdeeds. Now is the time to make important advances in the GOP platform in order to lure the 18-30 year-old voters.
The fact that this debate is occurring at all is a sure sign that the Republican Party, at least in Nevada, is beginning to catch on. Republicans in Oregon and California are also making some changes, primarily on the same-sex marriage issue. Elsewhere, there has been some harsh resistance. In Florida and Illinois, GOP members who have brought up the idea of evolving their platform have met with so much opposition that they gave up.
Celebrated Republican Bob Dole recently stated that his party is far more conservative than it has been in the past. He may be right. Case in point: Earth Day. Previously, Earth Day would be a time for both Democrats and Republicans to forget their differences and at least agree on one thing, that Earth and nature are negatively effected by the presence of humans and that it is our responsibility to make sure we proceed with intelligence and compassion for Mother Earth. However, not one Republican has even whispered the words “Earth Day” since 2010. If the GOP has any desire to not be “that guy” anymore, they need to return to a time when they could reach across the aisle and say, “Happy Earth Day.”
Perhaps the GOP will take a cue from its’ more progressive party members. Now that Nevadans have blazed the trail, the way can be clear for all Republicans who want to see some positive changes occur in their party. An identity crisis can take its’ toll on such a well-established institution, but the GOP can handle it. If Republicans in Nevada can catch on, Republicans anywhere can.
Commentary by Stacy Lamy