Hogan has stated not only a desire to “purge the party of those radical extremists [QAnon adherents],” but also to shift to a more centrist stance on key social issues in the hopes of courting moderate voters and growing the voter base.
Among these issues is abortion. Hogan told the Washington Post he believes Republicans focus too much on the issue. Hogan says he personally opposes abortion, but believes it should remain legal and is not interested in challenging Maryland’s permissive abortion laws. In 2019, he was criticized by local Right to Life groups when he declined to veto a law that was intended to counter federal prohibitions on some funding to abortion clinics.
If Hogan’s record is any indication of what he envisions for the future of the Republican Party, it could spell bad news for pro-life advocates, particularly those who have bet heavily on the GOP as a political ally. A Hogan-esque Republican Party may not push to advance legal abortion like the Democrats have pledged to do, but it also might do little to advance pro-life legislation and other policies.
A third path forward for the GOP is that presented by Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Although Rubio’s ascent to the Senate just over a decade ago was fueled by Tea Party enthusiasm, the senator has made a name for himself in the last 10 years by eschewing hardline stances and working across the aisle.
While Republicans are sometimes criticized as ignoring many of the pressing issues affecting American families, Rubio has worked to offer creative solutions to these issues, often presenting proposals that are more palatable to conservatives who favor small government solutions.
Rubio was part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators who crafted a major 2013 immigration reform bill. He worked with Elizabeth Warren on a 2019 bill to help tackle the student debt crisis. He championed a paid parental leave bill that would have allowed Americans to pull from their own Social Security to fund time off after the birth or adoption of a baby.
It is worth noting that these legislative efforts have largely amounted to dead ends. If Rubio is to lead the GOP into the future, he will need to convince other party leaders of the value of compromise and some degree of government intervention in solving important social issues.
But perhaps the biggest impact Rubio might have on the Republican Party can be seen in the way his language has shifted in recent years to reflect Catholic Social Teaching, particularly the writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Leo XIII’s1891 encyclical Rerum novarum.
In a series of speeches and essays in the last two years, Rubio has repeatedly called for a model of “common good economics” that places social health and human flourishing at its center.
Rubio has criticized the political right for promoting pursuit of profit divorced from community investment, and has criticized the political left for promising to enforce certain economic outcomes through socialist mandates. His own proposals focus on the dignity of human work and policies to incentivize businesses to reinvest returns in job growth and local communities.
Rubio’s ideas could transform the Republican stance on economic matters. They could also affect the political rhetoric of the pro-life movement. A Rubio-led GOP might undertake efforts to fight legal abortion, while also working to support families and expectant mothers, through initiatives such as health care reform, parental leave, and expanded child tax credits. Such an approach may particularly delight certain pro-life groups who have insisted for years that the movement needs to broaden its focus in precisely this manner.
Ultimately, it may take several years for the Republican Party to shape its image moving forward, and new figures may rise to prominence in that time, changing the direction of the party. While there is much that remains to be seen, interested observers may find that Sasse, Hogan, and Rubio are three pivotal players to watch as the process unfolds.