Mrs. Cleaver's America is Dead – and Thank God For It

Nov 11 2012 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Republicans, even Republicans who try to sound moderate in appraising the causes for the Republican defeat in 2012, shy away from the real reasons for that defeat: the culture war.

Ross Douthat, for example, takes to the New York Times to argue that not only will the Republican Party have to shift its position on immigration reform, but it will have to shift on the matter of economics as well. He acknowledges the effect of changing demographics on the political landscape.

But not once does he mention the Republican War on Women. Not once, in fact, does he even mention “women,” not in the singular or in the plural. He does not mention the word gay, as in “gay marriage,” or marriage equality.

He does not mention the word, “rape.”

What Republicans lack as this year of 2012 draws to a close, is a comprehension of just what, exactly, they have presented themselves as. To a man (and it’s mostly men), they blinded themselves to the reality of what they have become.

It is no longer the 1950s.

We can excuse them by saying that, in a sense, they have been frozen since 1964, when Goldwater’s defeat killed the Grand Old Party and triggered the rise of God’s Own Party. Let’s face it: almost five decades is plenty enough time for a political party to forget its origins.

That’s a long brainwashing.

America, however, refused to be brainwashed along with the GOP. The inevitable result was that the GOP found itself in this year of 2012, five decades out of date.

Golly, Mrs. Cleaver, has it been fifty years already?

Yes, it has, and it’s time to wake up. Snap out of it. You too, Mr. Douthat.

Pretend moderation is not moderation at all. It’s avoidance of the actual problem. What is really a plurality of problems.

The Republican Party has an old fashioned approach to everything sexual and everything gender-related. They stand by the old idea of the man being the power and authority in the family and wife being the submissive, stay-at-home type, unless it suits them to have a Michele Bachmann or a Sarah Palin to rally the fanatics. And if the woman gets paid less than the man for doing the same job, why, that’s the woman’s own fault. Just like its her fault when she gets pregnant. Just like it’s her fault when she gets raped.

They stand by the old interpretation of marriage. Well, not the most ancient interpretation, whatever they want to believe, but a long-standing one, that a marriage is between one man and one woman.

They stand by the old interpretation (at least in the West) of religion. That is, religion is Christianity and nothing but. Only Chritianity deserves First Amendment protections.

They stand by the old idea that women cannot be their own people, not from birth to death. Always, a woman must let a man take care of her, to protect her from making emotional decisions that will compromise her.

And they stand by the good ole boy idea that really, rape is just another form of conception. Lay back and enjoy it.

The world outside the GOP’s self-made bubble reality has moved right along. The world has dealt with all these issues by evolving their understanding of them. People have come to grips with all sorts of things Mrs. Cleaver would never have imagined.

Ross Douthat thinks the GOP can fix itself by compeltely ignoring all this. Ross Douthat thinks the GOP can ignore everything it said about women and gays and about rape and about women’s health issues and contraception  and abortion.

The GOP waged a holy war against women’s rights from 2010 to 2012. The GOP waged a holy war against the rights of gays, lesbians, transgenders, and others, who don’t fit into the neat package defined by 1950s conservatism.

How can anyone talk about what the GOP needs to do to fix itself without mentioning any of this?

The Republican Party platform of 2012 was written by right wing religious fanatics who think we can simply pretend the past did not happen, and re-write it to be more amenable to conservative denialists, those same people who hijacked the Republican Party starting in 1964 and who now do not want to be forced to wake up.

How can anyone talk about what the GOP needs to do to fix itself without mentioning the religious fantatics? Without mentioning denialism? Revisionism?

Ralph Reed thought the GOP just needed more likeable candidates, as though the platform was just fine. Marry this to the idea that Democrats only voted for Obama because George Clooney did, and you get an idea of where the Republican Party is headed.

And where it is headed is not toward a solution.

Yes, as Ross Douthat  says, “Both shifts, demographic and economic, must be addressed if Republicans are to find a way back to the majority.” But the problem is not, as he claims, the possibility that “the party’s elites will…fasten on the demographic explanation,” but that they will, like Douthat himself, ignore the cultural and social explanations.

Amnesty for illegal aliens will not fix the Republican Party. Douthat points out that, “The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer argued that if the Republican Party embraced amnesty and nominated Marco Rubio, it would win the Hispanic vote outright in 2016, solving its demographic problem in one swoop. Judging from the noises emanating from John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the party’s Congressional leadership agrees.”

But that’s not true, and Douthat knows it, saying that “the idea of amnesty as a Latino-winning electoral silver bullet is a fantasy.”

It is a fantasy. As is any solution to the GOP’s problems that does not include a re-evaluation of culture war issues: abortion, contraception, and marriage equality. Or a re-evaluation of the position that the federal government is the enemy. Or a re-evaluation of the position that global warming is a liberal plot.

Millions of Americans learned that is not true in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I don’t think any of those victims will be voting for a privatized FEMA any time soon. Those folks tend to let your house burn down when you don’t pay up in time. The government helps you even if you’re late on your taxes.

If the Republican Party continues to insist that we all live like Christians should, they are going to continue to lose, no matter what they do to garner Latino votes. Americans have become socially liberal; a complete reversal of the Cleaver’s America.

The best thing the Republican Party can do is reclaim itself. It can oust the religious ideologues and take itself back from the precipice of extinction. But as they say, the first step in curing yourself is recognizing that you have a problem.

And as Ross Douthat and every other Republican who has spoken in the wake of Tuesday’s election has shown, they are not willing to do that.

Douthat says that “after spending billions of those donors’ dollars with nothing to show for it, perhaps Republicans should seek a different path: one in which they raise a little less money but win a few more votes.”

That’s a good start. They just need to focus on real problems, and not problems that are nothing more than a form of math Republicans do to make themselves feel better.

Yes, Mrs. Cleaver. Reality does have a liberal bias.

Comments are off for this post