The GOP is held back by its seeming refusal to adapt to America’s changing dynamic
Well thank goodness that’s over. President Obama has been reelected and will reap the rewards of a slow economic recovery. In four more years, the economy will be better, unemployment will be down and happiness will be up. I make these assertions not because of any of the Obama administration’s policies in particular. It’s just the natural progression of economic downturns and upturns. If Governor Romney had won, the economy would have improved as well. It’s just the way things go.
Taxes will go up, but not much. Most of us will not experience an increase at all, and there will only be a minuscule one for those of you with means. The job market will get better and the dollar will get stronger. And all of these things, including the tax increase, would have happened under President Romney.
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It is uncharacteristic of me to speak of happy times and good things. It is not my milieu. I love entropy, disaster and horrific catastrophes. Keeping with my own passion for utter despair, I will now turn to the Republican Party.
The Republican Party is a train wreck. They lost the presidency and failed to make gains in Congress because they have refused to adapt to changing times. They did not lose because Romney was a bad candidate. Romney was the moderate governor of a liberal state, a robot with little to no personality, a subscriber to a religion that many Republicans consider little more than a cult, and smugly and unrepentantly wealthy. All that and he still won a hard fought primary against a group of idealist Republicans. He was not a bad candidate.
The problem was that he had to run so far to the right in order to win the primary, and then stayed so far to the right in order to keep the base in line, he was not able to tack back to the political center until it was too late. Look at his poll numbers. They did not start to gain on Obama until after the first debate when Romney was finally able to tell America he was a moderate. If he had been able to to do that at the RNC, he would have had a better chance of winning over the center.
Romney ran as a strong social conservative who could cure the ailing economy. The problem with this is that the economy is not ailing. It’s not vibrant, but it is getting better. This is not to say that no one based their vote on the state of the economy, but just as many voters feel the economy is improving as feel it is in the toilet. Romney consistently polled better than Obama on the ability to handle the economy, and if that had been the main issue on voters’ minds, he likely would have won. But it wasn’t the economy that was on voters’ minds when they cast their ballots.
It was social issues that prevented Romney from winning. The polls show that Romney only decisively won a single group: White males. He did get some high numbers with other groups, but white males were the only group that fully embraced Romney (or, more likely, expressed their dislike of Obama). Now the political pundits like to talk about all the different social issues that cost Mr. Romney the election — health care (especially for women), immigration, gay marriage, etc. — but those are all just examples of a deeper issue.
Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Fox News celebrity, spoke very passionately about why women and minorities should have voted Republican. He expressed the idea that these groups shared in the same “traditional” values that form the base of the Republican Party. Mr. Huckabee was a little dumbstruck about the election results and simply couldn’t understand why non-white men seem to distrust Republicans so much.
The reason why minorities, women, gays and the youth of America have misgivings about the Republican Party is that there is a perception that the GOP hates minorities, women, gays and the youth of America. Sadly, their fear of being hated by Republicans is more truth than fiction. The perceived hatred might not be an outright, sheet-wearing, cross-burning hate, but a simmering undercurrent of hate exists.
There have only been two times in my life I have ever actually enjoyed watching Fox News, one evening in November 2008 and the day of the presidential election. As I alluded to before I love to revel in the misery of others, and no group of people are more miserable than the fair Aryans of Fox News after a black Democrat wins election to the Oval Office. It’s akin to observing sorority sisters on suicide watch and throwing them a bottle of Valium.
This quadrennial watching was particularly savory as I got to see Ham Head (Karl Rove) have a little hissy fit because things weren’t going the way he wanted. Things weren’t going well for anybody at Fox. Damn near every Fox pundit had predicted a Romney win. Strange that, since pretty much every other pundit and prognosticator in the entire world had predicted an Obama win. The Fox predictions are indicative of the difficulty facing the Republican Party: They have lost touch with reality. They simply cannot understand that a large portion of America lives in realistic fear (not the crazy anti-Obama fear of the Tea-Party ilk) for their own safety.
There is serious hate still brewing in America, instances of racism have been on the rise. Women have had to deal with more overt acts of sexism. The youth are being weighed down by a bleak future and ever contracting social freedoms. And even though the Democrats have issued no panacea to cure these ills, they are at least admitting they are aware and are against them. The Republican Party, on the other hand, seems incapable of even acknowledging these problems still exist.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The problem the Republicans have to admit to is that their party is perceived as the party of hate, and the reason for that perception is because there is a lot of hate in the party. The Democratic Party had to purge the Southern Dems in the 1960s to remove the radical, hate-filled aspect of their party, which would have eventually destroyed them. The Democrats are now reaping the rewards of that action. If the Republicans have any hope of being the conservative party of the 21st century, they too must root out the purveyors of hate which have hijacked the Grand Old Party. Without a purging of the radical wing, the party will die.
Doc Bradley is a PhD student in political science. He has BAs in both religious studies and psychology, and spent eight years in the army.