Wake Up, GOP! Extreme Social Crusades Are Passé

This week our nation witnessed a series of historic events in the long battle for individual freedom and equality. While the Democratic Party is waving victory flags, applauding progress toward personal freedom and opening its arms to ever-increasing constituencies, GOP elected leaders have once again donned the mantle of 'grumpy old men' who bemoan the changing world and attempt to legislate their so-called traditional values.

As a lifelong Republican woman I am tired of this ilk claiming they speak for me and for the millions of other mainstream Republicans who remain true to the GOP's tradition as the party of limited government. The fact is that national GOP leaders made eloquent pledges about positive change earlier this year, but they still are stuck in a political mindset that embraces government invasion in our pocketbooks, in our bedrooms and in our doctors' offices.

It is time that GOP leaders wake up and get back to the business of governing, not preaching.

As millions of Americans of all political stripes celebrated the Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act, dozens of legislative proposals to restrict women's rights and reproductive health continued to march onward. Sadly, these efforts have been spearheaded largely by leaders of the Republican Party, whose misstatements call into question their understanding of the GOP's founding principles.

On the heels of a well-publicized federal push in the U.S. House of Representatives to ban abortion, the nation was again gripped with a very public battle of the womb -- this time in Texas. Extremists, lead by GOP religious zealots, pushed legislation that would have imposed unnecessary rules on women's health facilities and shut down 37 of the state's 42 clinics offering a variety of important health services, including abortions.

This legislation also included an already-declared-unconstitutional ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, with no exceptions even for rape and incest. The rape-denying GOP image was perpetuated when one of the bill's primary sponsors, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, argued against an exception for rape victims because, in her words, "in the emergency room they have what's [sic] called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out." This statement confuses a rape kit, a procedure used by medical professionals and law enforcement to collect evidence after a crime, with a method of preventing a pregnancy. Such continued misinformation about basic reproductive facts just underscores why lawmakers should NOT be legislating personal medical decisions.

Republican and Democrat women across Texas spoke out against this proposed legislation, culminating in Tuesday night's filibuster in the State Senate. As vital blocs of women and young adults watched through social media outlets broadcast across the country, Republican Senate leaders tried to shut down debate and push through this anti-choice legislation. This debacle simply served to revive calls of a GOP 'war on women', provide a major fundraising opportunity for Democrats and drive more mainstream voters OUT of the Republican Party.

This constant series of attacks on reproductive health freedoms has given the American electorate a disconcerting view into the closed minds of far-right, anti-choice extremists. This is symptomatic of a much larger problem facing the Party, as GOP lawmakers attempt to transform their rigid personal beliefs into law. But fewer and fewer Americans are interested in the Party's negative philosophy, and it is painfully apparent that these socially obsessed legislators are poised to lead the Republican Party into another season of electoral embarrassments.

It's time to topple GOP extremists from their bully pulpit.

We call upon the nation's GOP leaders to shut down these social crusades and focus on historic Republican principles and goals with a proven track record of success. By concentrating on repairing our economy, getting our citizens working again, stabilizing our markets, reducing our deficits to manageable levels and restoring our national pride as a creative powerhouse ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, a reinvigorated GOP will see national successes translate into electoral victories.

This is your wake-up call, GOP. Are you going to hit the snooze button again?