The Republican Party is falling apart, and factions are at each other’s throats over the self-inflicted wound of pushing religious freedom bills that would legalize discrimination.
Video of Hutchinson speech:
Hutchinson explained why he reversed course and decided not to sign the bill unless it is changed, “The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not mirror the federal law. It doesn’t mirror it in a couple of ways, particularly allowing the First Amendment to be asserted in the private litigation between parties or reliance on the state law in those claims. Therefore, I asked that changes be made in the legislation and I’ve asked that the leaders in the General Assembly to recall the bill so that it can be amended.”
The divide between Republicans is between the business community and social conservatives. There is also a generational divide between younger and older Republicans that is typified by the fact that Hutchinson’s own son signed a petition asking him to veto the bill, “My son Seth, signed the petition asking me, Dad, the governor, to veto this bill.”
All of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates with the exceptions of Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul have come out in support of the religious freedom bills. What is happening is the now traditional process of the Republican rank and file pulling their presidential candidates too far to the right to be electable.
In Arkansas, Gov. Hutchinson isn’t looking for a way out because he had an overnight epiphany. Hutchinson is trying to escape a brewing political firestorm that has spread outwards from Indiana and is engulfing the Republican Party.
History is repeating itself. This time the discussions aren’t centered around “legitimate rape,” but an attempt to legalize discrimination behind a thin disguise of religious freedom. The same old divides that have undone the Republican Party in previous election cycles are alive and well, but the GOP’s biggest problem is that their economic, social, and political agenda remains wildly unpopular and out of step with modern times.