This morning I listened to a story on NPR about the Republican Party scrambling not to lose the next presidential and nearest Congressional election. They discussed the changes in demographics in America and agreed they had a demographic problem, but then went on to say that their conservative principles would not change. They would welcome all of the people they had given up on welcoming in this last election. They specifically stated that they would court Hispanic “and other minorities” this time around. They acknowledged that they made “outrageous and bizarre” claims in this last election and that that had to change.
They are wrong or they missed the point. The Republicans lost this last election not because they didn’t court voters, but because they actively antagonized them. If they had won — as they expected they would — they would be ruling in a hierarchical fashion over all the very minorities they now hope to court.
One cannot be racist and hope to attract “minorities”. One cannot seek to take rights away from women and ask for those very women to vote for you. One cannot spread fear of the Chinese and hope to get their votes. Furthermore, in case you hadn’t noticed it, we have African-Americans in this culture. I have made a point to pay attention to these conversations and no one is mentioning going after Black voters. Why? It is not because the Republican Party doesn’t think they can’t get them. due to Obama’s getting them all. It’s because their policies are openly racist. Yes, Colin Powell is Black, but no one in the Bush White House listened to him. They sent him to lie to the UN and tarnish his reputation in the name of “supporting his President”. I am aware that Condoleeza Rice is an African-American, but I bet when she speaks, people are uncomfortable in the room — not because of what she says, but because of who she is.
The Republican Party, as it is, needs to do more soul searching, and give less thought to cosmetic changes. It has not always been this way. Bob Dole was just as fine a man as Bill Clinton was and both acknowledged that. He was respected and understood to care for all Americans, even if he did it differently than Clinton. While other members of his party were hunting down Bill Clinton because of the Lewinsky scandal, people like Dole were setting policy. I could easily have lived under a Dole Presidency, but considered moving to another country if Republicans won this last election.
The Republican Party, as it now stands, simply cannot add. If they represent and stand up for 10% of the population, that’s how many votes they’ll get. Even the wives and friends of those 10% (who know what they’re “really” like) might get 30% of the vote. That’s 1/3 of Americans in a country where we expect a majority to win.
The Republican Party right now is run by it’s farthest Right flank. You can’t be on the fringe and in the middle. It’s that simple.
This is not to say there is not a place for traditional values in this country. There is, and there should be. At the Republican Convention this year, when there was a bump in the polls, it was because normal, sane people spoke and talked about their love of farms, of business that offers jobs, of people that see people as individuals of faith, people who love their community and have a different view of how to get there than Democrats do. If those people were elected, I wouldn’t always be thrilled with their decisions, but I could respect them and we would be a country again.
So here’s the thing. If you want gay voters, you have to accept gay marriage. If you want to have women vote for you, you have to accept that they want control over their bodies. If you want Hispanics to vote for you, you can’t accept only Cubans into your party and try to keep the rest of them out. If you want to appeal to Blacks, you have to be appealing to them. You can’t want to re-fight the Civil War and speak absurdist, insane ill of the first Black President.
Disagree with his policies if you must, but don’t spend years looking at his birth certificate and saying he’s Muslim, Communist, and a Nazi. Don’t argue to stop him. Argue because you’ve got something better.
You can’t say to each other, when no one’s looking, that 47% of Americans are takers because if you’re off by a few points (and you’re off by way more than that, by the way), you have an instant loss. It’s not that you say such things. It’s that you believe such things.
Oh, and while I’m at it, as someone dear to me pointed out, you can’t be anti-science, anti-intellectual and expect the brightest people to rise to the top in your party. If you don’t value intellect — if you see smart people as “elite know-it-alls” — you will get what you deserve — an unintellectual leadership that can’t argue it’s way out of a wet paper bag on the world stage. Continue to not believe in, for instance, global warming, and your voters will not vote for you because they won’t be able to make it to the polls in all the bad weather.
The problem is not that people don’t understand your leadership and what it means for them. It’s that they do, all too well. Until you change what you actually believe and stand for, you will not win an election because the majority of people do not think like you do.
In the interests of peace and sanity in the United States, I wish you luck with that.