Thursday, November 8, 2012

angry white guys

Republicans have now lost the popular vote five times out of the last six elections. This is especially inauspicious for the GOP considering that a black man, who many still foolishly believe to be a socialist not born in this country was reelected after the biggest national economic recession since the 1930s. This election should have been a shoe-in for almost any opponent. And while some blame could be laid on a smug, unlikable, out-of-touch, billionaire, Mormon candidate with suspiciously absent tax returns, the real onus belongs to a party unwilling to accept the inevitable changing demographic of the electorate or an evolving secular and modern-thinking public.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Maryland, Maine, and Washington, and a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota failed. The Senate now has a record number of women-elect chosen to represent their constituents, among them Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and vocal proponent of Wall Street reform. Wisconsin has elected Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay Senator, recreational marijuana use (not just medicinal) is now legal in Colorado and Washington state, Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Walsh lost to Asian-American, disabled, Buddhist, female, veteran Tammy Duckworth, and Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock (the rape guys) were easily defeated in their respective districts.

The results of this election should in no way imply that all of America is on board with the chosen trajectory of the nation. Take a look at the electoral map and note the broad red swathe up and down and side to side across this great land. A big portion of that big red pool is the America that clings to their guns and their religion and watches FOX News. More difficult to distinguish amid the extreme rantings of the Tea Party crowd are the other portion of that same red pool; sane and sober folks who honestly believe in fiscal conservatism and less government. Their party has betrayed them.

Surprisingly, I don't want the GOP to disappear; we need a two party system in this country. Hopefully these next four years will give Republicans a much needed time out. The party needs to reevaluate and regroup in a way that they've never considered. In recent history, the GOP's knee-jerk response has been to go farther right; to gratify the demands of the loudest extreme fringe of their base. But as long as Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Trump, Ted Nugent, and angry old men who argue with empty chairs continue to be the spokespeople for the party, they will fail. 

The once substantial and distinguished party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower has morphed into an unrecognizable and acrimonious coalition reminiscent of a truculent NASCAR rally. Social issues need to be removed from their platform if they are to maintain any relevance whatever. Unless the most divisive voices of the right are silenced, and until the party abandons its self-righteous, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic attitudes and makes room for the undeniable diversity of this great country, they will quickly retreat into obscurity. In a rare moment of candid clarity, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who to my thinking usually gets everything wrong, got something very right when he said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

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