The Republican Party just learned a lesson about having radical factions in your party at a national level: You will lose votes, and, consequently, elections. When candidates have to tailor their platforms not only to the moderate left or right, but extreme factions like the Tea Party, having to appeal to two different groups at once, instead of one unified cohort, is never beneficial.
I am hopeful that Wisconsin’s conservative legislators got their desire to be extreme out of their system last session. And while I am still optimistic that most did and will come back to the table with a more moderate, compromising approach this January, a few lone conservative extremists are still lurking in the legislative branch.
Like, for example, the nine Republican legislators that The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports want to back a bill to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the health care law. Or the eight of those nine who want to pass a law that would allow for charging Transportation Security Administration agents with sexual assault for conducting pat-downs of passengers when they go through airport security.
I guess those legislators never took a civic ed class in high school. Because, you see, a state official arresting a federal official for doing their job is not exactly kosher. The Republican Party won back the Senate and kept a strong grasp on the state Assembly. So while they have an overwhelmingly strong voice in state legislation right now, if they want to maintain it, they ought to not let a few radicals hijack their party. If they let that happen, Democrats will have plenty more controversial legislation to point to come next election.
Fortunately for the Republican Party’s integrity, the governor seems to already be taking a more sensible approach to the next legislative session. When talking about right-to-work laws that bar private-sector labor contracts from including provisions that make employees join unions as an employment conditions, Gov. Scott Walker told The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal he would do “everything in [his] power” to prevent that kind of legislation.
The up side of comments like the ones those nine republican legislators made is that the Democratic Party will come out on top. If Walker doesn’t reel in his compatriots in the legislature, an extreme approach to legislating like the one the nine law makers have used will likely result in Republicans holding less seats in the state Senate and Assembly. If Walker does manage to reel them in, then that means a less extreme conservative voice. Either way, Democrats gain something from these sorts of radical comments.
Divisive factions in the party exist not only at the national, but state level. When compared to the extreme outliers at the federal level, Walker has a relatively easy job trying to control these nine legislators from getting too extreme. However, if he wants to keep the Republican Party in top form in Wisconsin, he better stop these sorts of positions from being publicly made, as they will only benefit Democrats.
Reginald Young ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in legal studies and Scandinavian studies.