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Things aren’t any better over in the Senate. Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell is faced with an identical problem. Surrounded by senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and his Kentucky colleague Rand Paul, McConnell spends his day doing nothing but figuring out how to stay leader. His party has held up the confirmations of dozens of presidential appointees, some of whom have been waiting nearly two years to be confirmed. McConnell whines and weeps on television every day.
Leaders aside, what is the image of the national Republican Party? It is viewed as anti-immigration, anti-woman and anti-poor. A bipartisan immigration reform bill has passed the Senate with overwhelming numbers but will never pass the House. A farm bill passed the House with all the money for food stamps removed. Equal pay for women is opposed by almost one-third of the House.
The message coming from the various states is no better. The Texas legislature voted to ban abortions and shut down clinics. Nine Republican states will be passing voter ID laws to stop minorities from voting. Eight states controlled by Republicans want to abolish early voting in the hope of discouraging Democratic voters. While all of this takes place, the national party leadership sits silent, afraid to offend the party’s right wing.
Our nation has always been a better place because of bipartisan government. The two-party system has always been the best system. Honest and open debate, followed by compromise, has produced some of the nation’s greatest legislative accomplishments. A fractured and badly wounded Republican Party is an insult to its moderate supporters. Like the divided Democratic Party of the 1980s, there will no doubt someday be a new and stronger Republican Party. For now its death is a welcome happening.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.