Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Troubled State of Their Disunion

Once upon a time, the State of Nevada elected its very first female Lieutenant Governor. Her name was Sue Wagner. And she had previously made history HERstory by working across the aisle on a number of issues affecting women & children during her service in the Nevada Legislature.

Unfortunately, Sue Wagner's political career was cut short just as it was starting to take off. Why? She was a victim of a horrifying plane crash near Fallon on Labor Day in 1990. Though she survived that crash and was elected Lt. Governor later that fall, her subsequent health problems prevented her from running for elected office again.

But now, Sue Wagner is making headlines and rocking Nevada's political scene yet again. How so? This time, it's for different reasons. And this time, it's due to the (failing) health of the Republican Party.

Just as President Obama was giving his State of the Union speech last night, the Reno Gazette Journal's Ray Hagar dropped this bomb from Sue Wagner.

Wagner, 73, registered as a nonpartisan voter a few days ago and said she’ll miss is voting in the primary election.

Wagner said she has grown tired of the GOP’s shift to the far right.

“I did it as a symbol, I guess, that I do not like the Republican Party and what they stand for today,” Wagner said. “I’ve been a Republican all my life. My dad was active (in the GOP) in the state of Maine where I was born. It was more of a moderate, liberal Republican Party.”

“It’s grown so conservative and tea-party orientated and I just can’t buy into that,” Wagner said. “I’ve left the Republican Party and it’s left me, at the same time.”

And speaking of the State of the Union, Republicans tried to spin away their own War on Women with a response from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington). And how did that go? Let's just say that in the future, we'll probably be talking more about last night's other Republican responses.

And then, there's this "pre-buttal response" to the Republican responses from Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R). She didn't even try mincing words when she described the troubled state of her party.

It's hard for me to phrase this politely. Sometimes Republicans think that just putting a woman up front means somehow that women are going to feel good about the party. It is not about the messenger. It's about the message. And until we figure that one out, while it's nice that we have a woman as a spokesperson, if the message itself doesn't get changed a bit, it's not going to work. But I think it is an attempt to say we've got prominent, articulate women, and she will certainly fill that role. And that's great. But that's not going to be enough to win over women at the polls. [...]

We should stop doing things like putting up another anti-abortion thing, and constantly trying to fight against the ability under the new healthcare law to provide birth control for women. If we really care about less government, let's get them out of the bedroom. Let's not say things like, “A woman's libido needs to have government there to help control it.” That kind of thing just reaffirms a sort of condescending attitude toward women.


Oh, and here's another big ouch. In 1990, Sue Wagner led the fight for Question 7, which sealed in place Nevada's abortion laws. And in 1995, national Republicans tapped then-Governor Christine Todd Whitman to deliver the Republican response to then-President Bill Clinton's State of the Union address. Would today's Republican Party allow such prominent roles for outspoken, pro-choice, non-"TEA" drinking women as Christine Todd Whitman, Sue Wagner, Dema Guinn, and Dawn Gibbons?

Both Wagner and Whitman remind us of the real problem facing today's Republican Party. And no, it can't be solved by simply tapping some woman to deliver one of the Republican #SOTU responses. (Nowadays, Republicans have several of them.) Rather, it's a severe policy problem in need of a serious policy answer.

Most Americans may very well soon forget what Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said last night. However, it will be much harder for Americans to forget what Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said last week about "Uncle Sugar", "libido", and contraception.

And why is that? Just look at what Republicans in Congress continue wasting their time on. And no matter how often they take to the media to deny their War on Women, they continue waging war on women by advancing extreme anti-choice policies. And they only make their own matters worse by provoking fights over issues like the definition of rape and working mothers.

Once upon a time, women like Sue Wagner had a place to call home in the Republican Party. Now, they don't. And if Republicans continue to ignore the troubled state of their disunion, they're doomed to make it even worse.

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