Forward to the past

Talk about being stuck in the 50s.

The Washoe County Republican Party approved a platform that reads like a document right out of 1955. Anti-gay. Anti-science. Anti-women making their own choices about their lives.

The platform was so regressive, several millennials complained to a reporter from the Reno Gazette-Journal that the party wasn’t even willing to debate the issues of ’man-made climate change,’ same-sex marriage or the legalization and taxation of marijuana. Another said, “Young people care about these social issues. If you give them social issues that they want with fiscal conservatism, that’s how you’re going to win the youth vote.”

Washoe County’s Republican Party Chairman Adam Khan, who is just 24, has indicated he and other party officers plan to resign en masse soon after the convention due to unresolvable differences with a vocal minority of Republican activists. He agrees the party is “going to push people out because of some of these policies and it just doesn’t make sense.”

He’s right. The more moderate Republicans who are open to evolving on social issues are abandoning the traditional party structure in droves. This may be the backlash election Democrats have been expecting for years, as the top of the Republican ticket is even worse than the provincial locals.

Look at the rhetoric around abortion last month by those aspiring to the Republican presidential nomination. Although Donald Trump insists he’s never wrong, he had to quickly retract his statement when he suggested abortion should be banned by the states and women who have them illegally should “face some sort of punishment.” Although this is a perfectly logical statement, since people who are caught breaking the law usually do face a consequence, the anti-choice movement knows the public would never forgive the image of desperate women seeking an abortion being thrown into a jail cell. They prefer to paint a picture of “vulnerable, exploited” women who need to be counseled and kept from hurting themselves rather than women as criminals because they don’t want to carry their rapist’s baby.

The “keep women in their place” anti-choicers apparently dressed down the Donald in private, and he quickly recanted, but the damage was done as his unfavorables among women now reach historic levels, nearing 75 percent.

Ted Cruz also thinks women have no business making their personal health care decisions. He insists Roe v. Wade is not settled and prefers that states make all abortions illegal, even in the case of rape or incest. He blames “judicial activism” for abortion rights. Cruz thinks the abortion of a pregnancy caused by rape “blames the child” instead of punishing the rapist. He utters the anti-choice propaganda perfectly, arguing that “women are victims of abortion.” Therefore, only the abortion providers should be punished.

As the primary season wears on, it seems likely that these old issues will be driving women, and those who value the rights of women to make their own decisions, to the other side. If the Democrats continue to offer pro-working class policies such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour as California did this month, with New York and other Eastern states likely to follow, the old white men of the Republican party may get to keep their ’50s era platform, but they’ll have fewer young people and women with whom to share it.

At a recent political event, I ran into a former elected Republican official who has contributed a great deal to Nevada and is widely respected for his common sense, statesmanlike views. I asked him privately how he intended to vote in November. He looked me in the eye and calmly said “Hillary.”

He didn’t seem at all conflicted about it.