The Republican Party’s biggest obstacle to winning big is the Republican Party. In terms of optics, most Americans eyes will open wide when they read that a state Republican Party is going to vote on whether to secede from the union. Presumably that means the right to leave the union when a different party is in control. Why leave when you have things your way? But here’s a news story that won’t help the GOP image, no matter what the outcome:
To secede or not to secede.
That will be the question for Wisconsin Republicans at next month’s convention.
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.”
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.”
Top Republican officials hoped to kill the fringe proposal during a meeting of the resolutions panel at the Hyatt Hotel in Milwaukee on April 5. Instead, the committee made a few edits to the resolution and adopted it on a split vote.
Now, the matter will go for final approval to the delegates attending the state Republican Party’s convention in Milwaukee on May 2-4.
Gov. Scott Walker, the leader of the state party, distanced himself from the resolution last week.
“I don’t think that one aligns with where most Republican officials are in the state of Wisconsin — certainly not with me,” Walker said at a press event on Friday.
The governor said Republicans and Democrats have both had their share of unconventional resolutions over the years. It’s important to realize, he added, that no single candidate will be perfectly aligned with all of the party’s policy statements.
It’s another huge embarrassment for the GOP and a disservice to all the truly thoughtful people who are Republicans but don’t talk about leaving the union, and may not worship at the Church of Rush Limbaugh. I agree with Doug Mataconis:
Leaving aside the historical irony of a state Republican Party potentially endorsing the idea of secession or the fact this is happening north of the Mason-Dixon line, things like this are just another example of how extremist elements within a political organization can end up doing things that embarrass the organization. I anticipate that the state party will ensure that the resolution fails at the convention next month, but the fact that they even will be voting on it means that the media is going to be paying unwanted attention to stupid things, that can’t help the image of the party as a whole. At some point, one thinks, Republicans will start to learn this lesson.
It may take losing a few elections, or winning far less than anticipated.
And it sounds as if some Republicans are feverishly working on that.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.