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Suicide of the Republican Party

It was never 1980. Barack Obama was not Jimmy Carter and, of all the uncertainties in this election, one thing was always certain; Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. People liked Reagan as a person. As a person, Romney was very unpopular, he was not trusted, and he was generally viewed as out of touch. Republicans told themselves it was “1980 all over again” to provide hope. When I heard this become a common phrase in right wing political circles I know the GOP was fishing in the dark for something to keep their supporters enthusiastic. It was never 1980; that was clear to anyone that looked below the surface. In 1980 winning 62% of the white male vote (60% of the overall white vote) meant almost a certain victory; Mitt Romney won that demographic, and was not nearly enough. The demographics continually shift against the ultra-conservative base of the Republican Party. Regan had a history of raising taxes; Romney said out right, the rich need to pay less in taxes.

The Republican Party is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. If someone does not step in, they will bleed to death. There are already whispers that Mitt Romney lost the election he was not conservative enough . This is just the bitter excuse of a party that is becoming irrelevant. The national elections show that, if anything, the Republican Party is to blame for the defeat of Mitt Romney; Mitt Romney is not to blame for the defeat of the Republican Party. While the wild swing of the base of the Republican Party to the right won House seats in the 2010 election, the nation has now seen the fruits of the tea party; and it is a bitter drink. There was more dysfunction from this last Congress than any time since the Civil War era. The nation has seen that the Tea Party does not govern, they just protest and oppose.

                The Republican Party did not fix anything after the 2010 election, and their blatant opposition to everything pushed them out of favor in the national scene. If Ronald Reagan were to run today he would not even make it out of a Republican primary. The base of the Republican Party has forced politicians to become more and more conservative in order to run. Mitt Romney, a middle of the road politician for his entire political career, had to shift so far to the radical right in his primaries that rather than highlight his inconsistencies and flip flops, the Obama campaign decided it would be more effective to paint Mitt Romney as a far right extremist. This was not an asset to the party, it was a liability. For the GOP to insist they need a more conservative candidate is to plunge the dagger back into their own belly.

                For evidence we can first look at Indiana and see the most obvious example. First it must be made clear: Indiana is a lock for Republicans. It was sure from the beginning that Romney would win Indiana, and the President did not even campaign there. So logic would dictate it would also be a lock for Republican Senate. Six months ago the Democrats would not have even hoped to win; Dick Lugar was a 36 year senator who had been instrumental in many major events in recent United States history, including winning the Cold War. But nobody voted for Dick Lugar on Tuesday. Why? Richard Murdock, a tea party candidate now infamous for saying that a pregnancy resulting from rape is the will of God. There is sound logic in that, if one believes that God chooses when a woman gets pregnant; however, the comment was interpreted as cold and chauvinistic. The radical right wing elected Murdock as their candidate when they defeated Lugar in a primary. How did the independents and sane republicans reward the tea party for this? By electing a Democrat to a Senate seat that has been 36 years Republican. Murdock was so far to the right wing that the rest of Indiana could not see fit to vote for him.

While Richard Murdock lost because of his right wing extremism, his rape comment was at least understandable. Todd Akin is a different story. In Missouri the Republicans expected to pick up an easy senate seat; first time Democrat Claire Mccaskill had become hated for her antics, which included the use of a private jet which she tabbed to the tax payers. Then Missouri heard Todd Akin speak. He stated that if a woman is “legitimately” raped, her body can shut down the reproductive system, and keep her from getting pregnant. You cannot make this stuff up. Patriotslog has wanted to ask Mr. Akin, if somebody is “legitimately” shot, does your body have a way to shut that down so you will not bleed? Needless to say, if his recent medical discoveries did not cost the Republican Party the election, his ultra-right wing mentality did.

Scott Brown, the Senator from Massachusetts who won the special election in 2010 during the Tea Party honeymoon also lost his race to challenger Elizabeth Warren. The Tea Party momentum that swept him into office in a rigidly Democratic state had become his burden. Moderates that have seen the effect of the tea party on government voted for Elizabeth Warren, and the GOP lost another Senatorial Race.

In Utah, gerrymandering had so thoroughly negated the Democratic vote that it was widely assumed Mia Love, the far right candidate in the Utah 4th district, would be able to finally unseat long time sitting Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson. Matheson’s previous district had been spilt into thirds, all heavily offset by Republicans in their new district. Salt Lake, the only remotely Democratic area in Utah was now voting in three separate districts; Love had good reason be optimistic. In the end, she too was too conservative for even Utah voters (many Republicans, and most independents voted for Matheson) and Matheson is once again representing Utah.

Throughout the entire nation citizens largely voted their disapproval of the Tea Party and the ultra-conservative Republicans. Rep.  Joe Walsh (R, IL), former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, Rick Berg in North Dakota, George Allen in Virginia, and Josh Mandel in Ohio are among the many seats the republicans had hoped to pick up or maintain this election. It was being too conservative which cost them the Presidency, and possibly the majority in the Senate. If the Republican Party decides their problem is not being conservative enough, it will diminish into total irrelevance. If their base continues to put unqualified, radical candidates into the general elections the nation will continue to reject them. In a nation where less than half of Democrats approve of Obamacare; in a nation with higher unemployment than on this day four years ago; in a nation that is statistically recovering from a recession at a pace slower than the great depression; in a nation $16 trillion dollars in debt; in a nation headed toward a fiscal cliff, Republicans still could not make any gains on election day because the voters clearly do not approve of the radical conservatives the GOP had to offer.

For the Republican Party to have a chance in the future they need to make three distinct shifts from their ideology. First, they must agree to raise taxes. The assertion that we do not need to raise taxes to balance the budget is asinine and ignorant. A majority of Americans would support higher taxes because they are logical enough to see that, while spending is the majority of the problem, our historically low tax rates also contribute significantly. Second, they must be first to immigration reform. Patriotslog predicts that President Obama will propose immigration reform that will be rigidly partisan and hardly beneficial to the nation, intentionally designed have a hard time passing. This is because he broke his promise during the first term, when he had a Democratic majority in Congress, and now can blame a failure of immigration reform on the GOP House.

He will design the bill to fail because not having immigration reform actually helps the democrats. They make immigrants believe the Democrats are on their side, because Republicans talk tough on immigration, but Democrats do nothing to help immigrants. If the GOP proposes an immigration bill before Obama, and heavily press the message that they are the party to reform immigration, thereby ensuring immigrants do not work below minimum wage, live in overcrowded housing, and can have healthcare outside of the emergency room, while the President lied to immigrants and did not help them and deported record numbers of immigrants, they can make huge strides in the changing demographics. Third, they must nominate Reagan style candidates, not Paul Ryan, for president.

The best hope for the Republican Party is the politician a most similarly resembles Reagan in policy: someone like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. Because of his policies Utah has been named the best managed state in the Union. Because of his policies Utah was among the states least affected by the recession. Because of his policies, a state that ranks about 30th in population is now 7th in financial services assets. Utah is rivaling Wall Street. If the Republican Party continues to insist on radicalism they will die. Unfortunately, most of the party will not realize this, or they will refuse to believe it. Biased talking heads worshipped as idols in the conservative world like Shaun Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the Fox Propaganda crew will feed the fire of unyielding conservatism, insisting Mitt Romney lost for being too moderate. If the party does not turn off their propaganda, they will die. Remember, it was Reagan, not Carter, that raised taxes and granted amnesty.


–Matt Young

8 November, 2012

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