Virginia LT. gov candidate E.W. Jackson becomes the latest Republican embarassment

OPINION - For all their talk of 're-branding' and reaching out to women and people of color, the 'new' Republican party looks exactly the same as the old...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

You heard it here first: yoga leads to demonic possession.  Well, actually that’s not true, but don’t tell Reverend E.W. Jackson, the Republican running to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor.

Jackson wrote in his book, Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life, “When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana. … The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. … [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it.”

And if you think this is just Reverend Jackson being colorful or over the top, perhaps you missed his past statements, including the belief that Planned Parenthood is more murderous to black people as the Ku Klux Klan or that President Obama is a secret Muslim.

For all their talk of “re-branding” and reaching out to women and people of color, the “new” Republican party looks exactly the same as the old.

Modern Republican party is a mess

The Republican party that was willing to dismiss Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock as outliers, has embraced Jackson in Virginia, and nominated him to the second highest office in the state. While the office is mostly ceremonial, the lieutenant governor will matter to break tied votes in the Virginia state senate.

Jackson’s comments about yoga leading to demonic possession are simply the latest in a series of remarks that illustrate the extremism that the GOP is seeking to elect.  Extremists exist on both sides of the aisle but Republicans elect their extremists, like the outgoing congresswoman Michele Bachmann and current congressman Steve King, of Iowa.

This is a problem for the modern Republican party.  It will present a huge dilemma for future races, including 2016, with hopefuls like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie walking the fine line between being moderate and having to placate the right wing base that he will need to support him in the GOP primary.

How do you ‘re-brand’ these people?

The problem for most Republicans is that they can’t seem to shake free from the grip of evangelicals and the tea party, who hold policy positions that alienate the emerging majorities of people of color, women, and young voters.

When RNC chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP wants to reach out to young people, people of color, and women, most Americans gave him a collective side-eye.  The Republican party’s failure to attract votes from those groups in 2012 was not the result of a marketing failure.  What Priebus and others fail to realize is that no public relations makeover or “re-branding” will work in this modern Republican party.  How is the GOP supposed to “re-brand” when they are working with the same personnel?

And even beyond the personnel problem, the GOP’s policy platform is proof positive that what politicians like Jackson, Akin, and Mourdock say are not gaffes but the manifestation of what the party actually stands for.  When Akin differentiates between rape and his offensive phrase “legitimate rape,” he’s not an anomaly.  That statement actually follows logically from the personhood language in the platform Republicans approved at their 2012 convention in Tampa.

It also coincides with the legislative assault on women’s rights led by Republican controlled state houses nationwide.  The reason Akin was asked to explain his opposition to all abortion, even for victims of sexual assault, is because he and the GOP actually want to force every single woman in America to give birth no matter the circumstances and he knows it will cost him and the GOP millions of votes.

Being the same color as Obama is not enough

So that brings us back to Jackson, a black Republican, the type the GOP has come to love.  Jackson seems to be a rising star in the mold of Herman Cain; a person of color willing to bash the Democratic party which benefits from overwhelming support from African-Americans.

But simply nominating a candidate the same color as Obama, will not give them their Obama.

The Republican party has a two-prong problem, with personnel and with policies.

Reverend Jackson is simply the most recent example of a Republican candidate with Republican ideas.

Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.