Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Are Republicans Losing (Again)?

So the results are in, and even with arithmetically-challenged Florida's lack of willingness to commit, the GOP got shellacked.  With the exception of the Tea Party Fluke of 2010, this is the third election in the past four cycles where the country has sent the Republicans a message: thanks, but no thanks.

Why?  Are we still that bitter over Bush?  Well, some of are.  But we Democrats try to focus on what's ahead.  We only look over our shoulder when it's about remembering what to avoid going forward.

Watching the GOP go through its five stages of grief, I think I can see the fatal flaw in their logic: they're stuck in denial.  Losing (badly) on Tuesday does not seem to have shaken them out of their dream state either.  So in the interest of helping the wounded opponent off the field, I have some advice to offer, maybe a little insight as to why they keep getting hammered: they aren't really Republicans.

The way I see it, they're not about fiscal responsibility, not really. They're not conservatives when it comes to spending money. If that were the case, we'd be seeing balanced budgets coming out of the Republican controlled House of Representatives. We're not. They like spending money just as much as Democrats do, maybe even more. The differences are, they think we can promise tax cuts across the board and it won't affect the bottom line, and they just want to spend the money on other things, like war and drilling for oil.

Republicans claim they're all about personal responsibility and keeping government small, but ask them how they feel about gay marriage, and see how intrusive they think the government ought to be. Ask them about gay couples adopting. Ask them about abortion. Ask them about legalizing (and taxing) marijuana. Suddenly these "small government, personal responsibility" Republicans reveal themselves to be anything but. They think that being a "social conservative" makes them a Republican. It doesn't. It just means they're scared of change and want to go back to the 1950's morality. But we're past all that, and there's no going back.

In point of fact, there hasn't been a Republican who lived up to the party's ideals since Eisenhower. This current crop of pretenders that claim to be Republicans have no idea what the word actually means. If they did, and if they acted out those principles, there might actually be a contrast in the candidates at election time worth discussing.  During the final Presidential debate, most of Romney's responses to Obama amounted to "I agree with him, but I'm white."  The Republicans, furious over a President who would support universal health care and gay marriage, nominated a candidate who, as governor, supported universal health care and gay marriage.  To the undecided voters out there who refuse to pledge allegiance to either party, this choice was a transparent farce.  Republicans can easily establish themselves as a true alternative by insisting on staying mum on social issues and making themselves about balanced budgets (with or without lowering taxes).

If the GOP wants to return to relevence, they're going to have to be willing to re-define what it means to be a Republican. Let go of the social conservatism and focus instead on balanced budgets.  Cut spending on big-ticket things like wars (particularly the unnecessary ones). De-funding PBS and Planned Parenthood is not the path to fiscal solvency. Quit voting yourselves raises, at least until you get unemployment down to 4%.  Make getting Americans back to work your #1 priority. Start taxing the rich and corporations, make them pay their fair share (fair, meaning the same tax rate the Middle Class pays in personal income tax).

Otherwise, just find something else to call yourselves, because your current game plan (which is a losing one, in case you hadn't noticed) is not a Republican one.

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