Friday, November 16, 2012
Republicans: Living in Denial
I want to apologize for tooting my own horn here, but in all humility I want to write very candidly. I was right on the mark in predicting last spring that Latinos, blacks, women, and young voters would put Barack Obama over the top and get him re-elected. Man does it feel good to be both right about the election results and vindicated in making such a bold prediction so early in the presidential campaign.
I felt the need to contribute this to all of you not because I have this obnoxious Donald Trumpian obsession to draw attention to myself, but to make a point about a self-defeatingly qualitative and quantitative narrative that the Republican Party and its conservative flock have been allied to. It is a narrative that articulates a scarcely repressed desire to require the existence of an enemy in the ever-expanding numbers of minorities in the United States. It is also a narrative that is based on an utter lack of understanding people who are not of the same color, gender, sexual orientation, or economic class.
Conservative Republicans would like to think that Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama because the former Massachusetts governor was not principled enough, that he had no moral or ethical bedrock to stand on other than sheer corporate efficiency. When right-wing Republicans say Romney wasn’t principled enough, they are referring to their cherished conservative values. But there were principles easily recognizable in Mitt Romney, principles out of which were built his pragmatic and moderate reputation.
However, Republican ground all around the country had long since been laid by the Tea Party extremists who occupy a space somewhere between a passionate identification with the vestiges of a fading “traditional” America---to use Bill O’Reilly’s description---and a vindictive and tortured imagining of the world that is as old as any paranoiac, delusional revulsion there has ever been. In this inflexible, out-of-touch with reality atmosphere, there was no way Mitt the Practical One could be himself as a presidential candidate. Instead, he was forced to turn this way and that way, trying to please everyone on his end of the political spectrum only to end up being thought of by many of his fellow Republicans as ideologically-weak and far too willing to compromise whatever conservative values he may have had.
But this no-man’s-land theory that conservative Republicans are trying to defer to is missing the point of the GOP’s electoral failure. You could say---and I think that this is a very fair point given what occurred last November 6---that it is the party’s namely ultra-conservative message, not so much Mitt Romney’s insufficiently conservative credentials that spelled the GOP’s electoral doom in 2012.
The Republicans’ exclusionary conservative message eclipsed whatever salutary logic that it disseminated to the American people. Until the GOP stops thinking of women, Latinos, blacks, gays, and other minorities as the feeble links of society that are dragging the United States down, as somehow being un-American and therefore alien to “traditional” America, it will always find itself falling short of electoral success.
But as conservative Republicans are wont to do, they exhort an intransigent and facile narrative that lumps millions of Americans into the category of the freeloading victim. What they don’t understand is that the vast majority of these people want to work and an opportunity to realize the American Dream. Bill O’Reilly bemoaned that the people who voted for Barack Obama “want things”.
You’re damn right they want things Bill. They want the same things that anyone else who is willing to work hard in this country is entitled to. Sure, there are those idlers and deadbeats who want “things” without meriting them. Then again they represent what is a tiny minority of Mitt Romney’s now infamous 47%. The bulk of that ubiquitous percentile are willing to earn their keep to join the other percentage of prosperous Americans that Romney and the conservative Republicans claim are the real “makers” of the US economy.
The ideological infirmities of the GOP message have symbolically and substantively altered the party’s electoral prospects for the foreseeable future. What has happened to the GOP can only be reversed if its partisans start perceiving American society for what it really is, not for what it used to be.