THE "RIGHT" WING - WHAT'S WRONG?
There is much going on from our nation's political right wing nowadays when it comes to wailing and the gnashing of teeth. They should have had the presidential election in the bag. They should have taken control of the Senate. What happened?
Well... those are the things they didn't just accomplish, but were CERTAIN they would achieve. Why were they unable to totally grab power and push whatever repressive legislation they wanted down our collective throat?
This is a question for discussion, and lots of people have weighed in. In a recent column, sourpuss George Will mentioned that the Republican party ran the wrong candidate, stating that Mitch Daniels is the guy they should have chosen. Many are saying it is because Mitt Romney was "not conservative enough" to be the nominee.
Others point to the ill-begotten offspring of the GOP's marriage of politics and religion, a "catch-22" situation that causes the Republicans to be unable to stay "on message" as they continually must placate their evangelical voters.
As those on the left have pointed out repeatedly, the Republican party has a tide of demographics rolling in on America, wearing away at the foundations of their party's sand castle (or maybe their sand country club).
And the left points out with some degree of success that the GOP is the party of rich people, and point to Romney's infamous "47%" comment as proof of how far out of touch Republican leadership is with average Americans and how willing those leaders are to simply write off anyone who does not agree with them.
After digesting many such opinions, as well as numerous others, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE, plus more.
I chalk it up to a grand combination of any or all of the above factors, with a healthy dose of hubris thrown in.
The Biblical proverb "Pride goes before a fall" seems to apply here in a lot of ways. With our country divided as it is along political lines, it would seem ingenuous to call one side more arrogant, overconfident, condescending or prideful than the other. But what I saw in the weeks leading up to the election told me that while many voters on the left simply hoped for the outcome they wanted, many of the right wing persuasion engaged in some rather mean-spirited attacks, and if denigrating the intellect of the average left-winger didn't seem to work, nastier things were invoked, sometimes including what I would call racism and misogyny.
Those nastier things that come out of us are driven by fear, which is one of the most base emotions. Right wing leaders and media outlets broadcast a message of fear, and use it to control voters. Throw in a big dose of pride, and there doesn't seem to be much way to reason with many of them. But unlike Mitt Romney and his ilk, we on the left all need to keep trying, not only to reach those with whom we ideologically disagree, but trying to reach them in a way that at least shows them we want to work with them.
As far as the GOP's chances of survival go, I'd recommend a number of things, and there is nothing new or original here, either.
1a. Get off the crazy train. Divorce yourselves from the extremes, like Grover Norquist, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and anyone who is so outspoken and so far to the right of center. I believe those people tend to be much more inflexible in their approach than most Americans would like.
1b. Get off the crazy train some more. Split away from talking heads and propagandists who preach against compromise... and here I'm thinking of ones such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Newsmax, Matt Drudge, Glenn Beck, and most of the FOX "News" crew. Acknowledge those folks, keep them talking, writing and opining... but find ways to keep voters in your party from taking the opinions of such people and organizations as gospel.
2. Separate from religion. Nothing says a person has to be a Republican to believe in a Christian God, just as nothing says if a person does not believe in God that person must therefore be a Democrat. These are myths that have been created through propaganda. While it is true that the Democratic party platform is more friendly to non-believers, the number of non-believers in America is growing. In order to reach more of these people, your paryty can't be trying to pound the Bible into every American nook, cranny and corner. When such inflexible thinking permeates a party's political message, it will ultimately be off-putting to millions of voters.
3. Stay on the economic message. Once step 2 is underway, this will be easier. Otherwise, the desire to cut spending, shrink the size of government, and reduce our debts is overshadowed and taken off track by issues related to religion. While the hot-button issue of abortion does not have to be totally related to religion, in many cases it is. The same can be said for the "issues" of homosexuality and gay marriage.
4. Realize that your base needs to change, and reach out to make that happen. As our nation becomes more diverse, you won't be able to count on so many states staying "red"... the number of "red" states will decrease with time. So find ways to reach out to immigrants, all people of color, non-believers and those with different beliefs. Crafting legislation that is not punitive and which will not ultimately benefit primarily just the rich would be another good thing. Also, find ways to reach out to women. Not all women are Democrats, but women do make up half the population, after all... and being as male-centered a party as you are, gaining the trust of more women is one of your most important tasks.
5. Dump the fear, and put on a positive face. While many voters do tend to feed on fear and negativity, take the high road. Find ways to stimulate critical thinking among your voters; help give them the tools to carefully compare and contrast candidates in a meaningful, information-based way. Talk more about what your party will do to help America, and not so much about how big or bad an ogre the other guy is.
6. Pick candidates who will appeal to those to whom you no longer seem to appeal. But don't do it just to get people to trick you into voting for your candidate. Do it because you mean it.
Do I expect you to do any of these things? No, at least not right away. Do I want you to? Because I value a system of checks and balances that includes public forums and rational discussions of issues, I have to say yes, most definitely.
Do I expect you to regain power any time soon? No, I don't find it likely that you will. And this is because I believe many of those in charge of your party are too stubborn and power-hungry to start changing with the times, maybe too much so to start changing until it is too late to save things the way you'd like them saved.
My thoughts and ideas are always out there for you to consider, but due to the hubris thing... I doubt you will consider them, and simply because, well... I'm a "liberal".
And because I'm a liberal, I will happily engage in some schadenfreude during the next few months. And then? Time to get to work on gaining control of the House of Representatives in 2014.