In Republican politics, where you stand on an issue, especially social issues, used to be vitally important. I say “used to be” because there seems to be a change in how these things are publicly addressed.
On social issues, the GOP seems to be using the “quiet little secret” method of explaining those particular positions.
Jeff Johnson, Mike McFadden, and Stewart Mills III have been especially careful about the “let’s not talk real loud about that” method of where they stand on gay marriage, abortion, and to some extent, even climate change.
The loud and boisterous, holier than thou, megaphones of the Republican past have been reduced to whimpering, let’s change the subject, hide in the corner type methods.
During the GOP governor campaign, the four candidates seemed to have a mutual agreement about their approach:
Even as Scott Honour, Jeff Johnson, Marty Seifert and Kurt Zellers tout their conservative credentials on the campaign trail, they’re largely steering clear of topics like abortion and same-sex marriage. Voters, they argue, are more interested in taxes, spending and other economic issues.
When pressed they still will voice their support for anti-choice or “traditional” marriage stances, but they quickly change the subject.
For Jeff Johnson, it would seem that he is abandoning the broader social conservative mantras:
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the Republican-endorsed candidate, said he would sign legislation that fits his views on abortion if it reaches his desk. But he said he “won’t be advancing that at all,” if he’s elected. Johnson said he also supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but has no interest in trying to repeal the same-sex marriage law enacted in 2013.
There you go anti-choice people, you are on your own. The governor is not going to take any leads on those subjects.
And as for Mike McFadden, he has been trying to broaden the number of issues he doesn’t want to talk about. Gone are his early ruminations about raising the Social Security age or a path to citizenship or support for universal background checks.
Back in July of 2013, McFadden was quoted with this:
“It does bother me that someone who couldn’t pass a background check at Walmart could then go right down to a gun show and buy a gun,” McFadden said. “So I would consider expanded background checks, specifically closing that gun show loophole.”
And in October of 2013, he spoke of tacit support of the Senate immigration bill:
First of all, the status quo is not acceptable, having 11 million illegal immigrants in this country is de facto amnesty, and that doesn’t work, so we need to find a solution. I applaud members of the Senate for trying to find that solution.
If you were to ask him about that now, he would never admit to that position.
And he won’t even begin to talk in any kind of detail on abortion or gay marriage. He will raise the talking points necessary but a full throated, passionate display of support ain’t gonna happen.
And then there is Stewart Mills III. He will talk taxes and gun issues with devout enthusiasm, but gay marriage?
He did not take a position on same-sex marriage because he said the state has already decided the issue.
His position is “let’s move on.”
“Well, the Supreme Court has spoken and the people of Minnesota have spoken, and it’s time to move onto issues that will move our state and our country forward,” Mills said.
Is social conservatism dead in this rendition of the GOP? Or are they hiding public positions and keeping MCCL and the religious zealots at bay by giving them private support?
It is hard to believe that the issue that defined the Minnesota GOP when they controlled the Minnesota House — gay marriage and the amendment — has now completely vanished from their political radar.
And it seems even more unlikely that the silence from MCCL and other social conservative groups is a coincidence. I would contend that a bargain has been struck that will allow the candidates for the MN GOP to sweep that public support of controversial issues under the rug, only to re-emerge if they can get elected.
Don’t be fooled. We are being played on this one.
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