Dirty, Rotten Republicans?

Jim Geraghty of National Review opines that conservative ideas won on November 6, but conservative candidates, not so much.  Why?  Because they come off as mean:

Conservative ideas, though, won in distinctly Democratic-leaning states once the word “Republican” was no longer associated with them. In Michigan, where Obama won handily, a push to enshrine collective-bargaining rights in the state constitution was roundly defeated, 58 to 42 percent. In California, voters rejected a proposition to repeal the death penalty, rejected mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, and also rejected Proposition 38, which would have added funding to education and early-childhood programs by raising taxes on those making as little as $75,000 a year. In Virginia, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment making it tougher for the state government to seize private property under eminent domain — while Romney and George Allen were losing statewide.

So why are Republicans so much less popular than their ideas? A ubiquitous accusation from their Democratic rivals, echoed by an allied media, is that Republicans lack empathy to the point of displaying sheer meanness. With Obama running up huge margins among various demographics — African-Americans, Hispanics, women, young people — the argument is that the GOP increasingly represents an aging, white, bitter, and angry rump of the electorate, lashing out nastily at a world changing too fast for them.


At a recent conservative gathering, one well-known pundit exclaimed, “Why can’t I marry my cat?”

Now, think about how this argument sounds to any gay or lesbian or to anyone who loves them — to their mothers, fathers, brothers, and friends. It takes a consensual relationship that more and more Americans see practiced by their friends, neighbors, and relatives and equates it with criminal acts, among the most reviled in our society. Put another way, if some jerk in a bar came up and compared your relationship to your spouse to bestiality, you would probably be sorely tempted to knock his teeth out.

Are gays and lesbians welcome in the GOP or conservative movement? Arguments and jokes like that send the signal they aren’t.

To a lot of people outside the party, this is pretty obvious, but it is good to see someone within the GOP (and not a moderate “squish”) say this.

One thought on “Dirty, Rotten Republicans?

  1. Don Kirk

    An argument could be made that “diversity,” pluralism, and trust of your fellow citizens is better found in a coalition of center-Left with center-Right than it is within the ‘big tent’ concept of the two major parties in American politics. So long as the center-Right and center-Left mutually agree to the bifurcation of the large moderate middle in our national politics, they help institutionalize and insulate the ideological extremes which now dominate in the two ‘bases’ of the duopoly. The “moderate middle” in the American electorate is larger than either of the two bases (40% versus 30% and 15%), so the two extremes must keep the moderates divided (20% in both parties) in order to continue to win elections and establish national policy. The resulting policies are forever pendulum swings between the ideological extremes of ‘democratic socialism’ and ‘religious nationalism.’ Frankly, the success of growing extremism in our politics (for forty straight years) is made possible by the acquiesence of the two centers to refuse to join the other center in a coalition of people who much more closely share values and think alike than either center finds in their respective party. So long as conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans and lite-Libertarians refuse to coalition into a new moderate party, the insults and hate they experience from the ‘base’ of each of their parties easily marginalizes their shared values and ability to get along.

    Divide and conquer works, so long as those divided refuse to coalesce.


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