The Modern Republican Party is a Special Kind of Suck (Part 3 of 3)

Part 2

Did Voters Reject Capitalism?
Some on the Right have said that the 2012 election was a rejection of Capitalism. I’m not entirely sure I agree. Yes, there seems to be a large percentage of the electorate who want money to be taken away from the top 1 or 2% and redistributed to the remaining 99 or 98%. Yes, more people are reliant on some sort of government check than ever before. Is it possible that there was some other reason voters rejected the alternative Barack Obama in this election?

The answer to this question, I think, has more to do with where conservatives come down on certain divisive social issues. The rhetoric on issues like abortion and gay marriage for example have alienated certain people who agree with Republicans on taxes and spending may have otherwise voted for the Republican candidate. For voters who decide these issues are at least as important as economic issues, they either support Obama, support Gary Johnson,* or don’t vote at all.

Anti-choice Extremism of Suck
To be fair, abortion is an issue that even divides libertarians. Sadly, this is not an issue that is likely to disappear anytime soon.** But the way Republicans present the issue needs to change unless they want to continue to chase away the female vote. I don’t think it’s even necessarily about abortion per se but more the cavalier attitude some Republican politicians seem to have about anything concerning women’s reproductive cycles.

While it’s reasonable to say that the government should not force insurance companies to pay for contraception, when someone like Rush Limbaugh calls someone like Sandra Fluke a slut or a prostitute, for advocating the opposite view, this distracts from the argument. There has always been a double standard in our society concerning sex. Men are studs for putting notches on their bedposts while women are sluts for doing the same. Comments like these remind women of this double standard and make it seem that Republicans have not moved beyond this double standard.

They refer to the “morning after pill” (marketed as Plan B) as an “abortion pill” when in fact it is not. In fact, according to this article on WebMD the morning after pill doesn’t work for women who are already pregnant (that’s a different pill). The article further explains that the pill does one of two things depending on where a woman happens to be in her cycle when the pill is taken: 1. prevents or delays ovulation or 2. keeps the egg from being fertilized. Some may also recall that Ron Paul, who was arguably the most anti-abortion candidate in the race and someone who was an obstetrician by trade (i.e. he knows what he’s talking about) said as much in one of the debates when the morning after pill was brought up. Anyone who says the morning after pill is an abortion pill is either uninformed or lying.

You have Republican men like Todd Aiken talking about “legitimate rape,” basically saying to women who are real victims that if her body didn’t “shut that whole thing down,” they weren’t really raped to begin with, therefore; there shouldn’t be a legal exception for rape to allow for an abortion. Another senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, said that a pregnancy that is the result of rape is “a gift from God.” Seriously.

Whether they realize it or not, Republicans are basically saying that pregnant women are second class citizens. For nine months, her rights are second to the concern of the unborn child regardless of the circumstances of how the child was conceived and regardless of legitimate health concerns of the mother. It should come to no surprise that some women might object to these attitudes and vote accordingly.

The issues concerning reproductive rights are delicate but often not treated as such among Republicans. Maybe just maybe, the GOP should allow the women to be the spokespersons on these issues, even if they are staunchly anti-choice. Instead of a blanket one size fits all federal policy outlawing abortion; the GOP should say the issue should be decided state-by-state.

Anti-Gay Attitudes of Suck
Face it Republicans, gays are serving in the military and they will eventually have the ability to get married in all 50 states. The train has left the station a long, long time ago. You can concede that you have lost on this issue or you can continue to take a beating at the polls, and deservedly so.

So what’s a socially conservative person to do?

No one says you have to like the gay lifestyle. Go ahead and preach from your tax exempt pulpit about the immorality of homosexuality. Go ahead and write blogs or write on your Face Book wall about how much you disapprove. Whatever. It’s your right to be as intolerant as you want to be.

The problem for libertarians at least is when you want to use force via the government to get your way. Libertarians would also say that churches should not be forced by the government to marry gay couples (or any couple for any reason for that matter). Let the churches discriminate but also allow gay couples to have the same legal contract*** rights as heterosexual couples. And if a gay couple can find a church that will marry them, that should be the end of it. Who are you to infringe on their religious liberty?

Conclusion: Slaying the Suck
The days of appealing only to white Christian men over 50 are coming to an end as white Christian men over 50 are quickly becoming a minority. The Republican Party must learn to reach out to minorities, to women, and to younger voters.

Sure, Republicans had minorities speaking at their convention and I’m not accusing the GOP of tokenism (though I’m sure others, particularly on the Left will make that charge). But it simply is not enough to have Condoleezza Rice, Susannah Martinez, and Marco Rubio in the party to say that you are “inclusive.” Minorities need to be included in the conversation, heard as opposed to talked at. How are your policies better for them than the Democrats’?

Ask yourself: “If I were female, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Muslim, atheist, or gay, would I feel welcome in the Republican Party?” If the answer is “no,” the Republicans have some serious work to do if they want to win in the future. While none of these minorities in of themselves cost Romney the election, together they make up a significant voting bloc that would be foolish to ignore.

Some of the issues I have mentioned in this series are popular within the GOP but don’t necessarily play all that well outside the GOP (i.e. independent voters). This doesn’t mean surrendering their principles necessarily but it does mean re-thinking some of them, presenting their ideas better, and deciding which issues are worth fighting for and which (if any) need to be jettisoned.

While some people may have liked Mitt Romney’s economic proposals, they may have also disliked his social proposals. The problem with supporting a candidate for office is that the person you are voting for is a package deal. Some of us are simply unwilling to choose between economic liberties and civil liberties (and when the Republicans are only marginally better on economic liberty than the Democrats AND when Democrats are only marginally better than Republicans on civil liberties, some of us prefer the real deal and vote Libertarian).

In closing, I think Rep. Ron Paul had some very good thoughts in his farewell speech from the House that would serve as a guide on how the Republican Party can slay the special kind of suck that gave a terrible president a second term:

The problem we have faced over the years has been that economic interventionists are swayed by envy, whereas social interventionists are swayed by intolerance of habits and lifestyles. The misunderstanding that tolerance is an endorsement of certain activities, motivates many to legislate moral standards which should only be set by individuals making their own choices. Both sides use force to deal with these misplaced emotions. Both are authoritarians. Neither endorses voluntarism. Both views ought to be rejected.

Yes, these views ought to be rejected and the GOP should return to the strategy they used to win in 2010: economic issues front and center and social issues on the back burner.

*I am proud to say I was one of the 1% or roughly 1 million who supported Gary Johnson for president. Though in terms of the election is a small number but set a new record for the Libertarian Party.

**Call me cynical but I think both Republicans and Democrats want abortion to always be an issue for fundraising reasons. This is an issue that animates the bases of both parties.

***Don’t waste my time with the slippery slope arguments “that if gays can marry what’s next, people marrying their dogs?” or “marry children” or “marry their cars.” The key here is contract rights. Dogs, children, and cars all have one thing in common: none have the legal ability to enter into a contract.

  • MingoV

    The majority of voters did not explicitly reject capitalism. But, by re-electing Obama, they accepted his economic approaches: fascism and socialism. Obama’s fascism also includes crony “capitalism.” The voters also accepted bigger national government, more types of entitlements and benefits, more spending on entitlements and benefits, more nanny-statism, fewer freedoms, a continued war on drugs, more years of class- and race-based divisiveness, more deaths by drone bombs, and more undeclared wars. This just proves that the average person is an ass.

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  • Limerick’s Life

    My theory has always been “If you don’t want to get married, then don’t get married. If you don’t want an abortion, then don’t get an abortion. If you don’t want to get your tongue split, don’t get your tongue split. If you don’t want to watch that tv show, then don’t watch it. Start thinking for yourself instead of dictating for others.”

  • TerryP

    Another reason the republicans do so badly is that they let the democrats and media control the discussion and define the issue.

    Case in point, the current debate about the republicans being the obstructionist in regards to the middle class tax cuts. Why do you never hear from republicans that they have passed numerous bills that would extend the middle class tax cuts. It is the democrats that haven’t passed anything and are the ones holding the middle class tax cuts hostage to get an increase in taxes on the rich. Rarely do you hear about spending cuts, which is the other bigger part of the equation. The democrats won’t bring it up, because they don’t what to cut. Why aren’t the republicans, speaking loudly about the lack of democrats ideas on spending cuts. Where is the balance that the democrats have talked about. This is an issue that the republicans should be winning easily but are getting their butts kicked instead, because they are terrible at communicating and defining the issue.

    The republicans do have a tougher road to haul since most of the media is in bed with the democrats, but they need to do the work. Everytime someone brings up republicans being the obstuctionist about middle class tax cuts the republicans should call them out on it and explain why they are wrong. Republicans have to become much better communicators of what they are trying to sell. They can’t let democrats and the media continue to dominate how each issue is defined. If they were to do this, the whole republican brand would be lifted and until they do it they will have a hard time winning national elections.

    Or maybe this is the real republicans. Maybe the rhetoric about spending cuts, lower defeicts, balanced budgets is just talk. They really don’t care about any of it, but just want to sound a little different then the democrats. If they don’t want to slip into irrelevance they need to find themsleves in smaller government and figure out a better way to communicate about it and define the issue. They can’t be afraid to take on the opponent and the media.

  • Stephen Littau

    TerryP, you are 100% correct.

  • Akston

    I agree as well.

    But bear in mind that political incentives rarely align with long-term national fiscal health. It’s very hard to get any politician to decry spending in any meaningful way. Spending is how they buy off their constituencies. Telling the voters in your district that your plan is to cut the distribution of free ponies they’ve grown to expect usually leads to defeats, not wins.

    This is why there is little difference between Team Blue and Team Red when it comes to spending. Increases are cooked in, costs are diffuse and benefits are concentrated. Any spending creates “special interests” of the recipients of that spending and each program costs so little to each citizen, that it’s very difficult to express the aggregate cost.

    It’s also why “deep”, “draconian”, “crippling”, and “dangerous” cuts are not cuts at all. They are decreases in planned increases. They are budget cuts, not spending cuts. Even when purposefully exaggerated (“we’ll cut a trillion over 10 years”, ten years they won’t be in office and cannot control, so a trillion really means 100 million this year), such a “cut” becomes less than 10% of the overspending they planned for that year alone. Spending still increases year by year.

    I agree about how the debate is framed. Democrats are better at selling the free ponies, Republicans have no philosophy. They occasionally voice smaller government rhetoric, but seldom mean it, for the reasons above.