Lessons Lost

June 5, 2013

If you want to know why the Republicans lost the last election and may have difficulty in upcoming elections, you only have to look at some of the recent comments from party leaders and supporters. Here is a sampling of the bizarre stuff the GOP is saying:

Speaker of the House John Boehner stated that God spoke to the Republican members and that is why he was reelected to the leadership position. I find it hard to believe that God only speaks to Republicans; I thought he/she was bipartisan.

Then the Republican Governor of Mississippi was asked what he thought was the reason why American education was not up to par. His answer – women going out into the workforce rather than staying at home and reading to their children. Really? This comes from the governor of a state that has the lowest per pupil expenditure for education. This is a surefire way to lose the women’s vote- blame them for poor test scores.

And now to Fox News. A few weeks ago four men, including ol’ Lou Dobbs, blathered on about how they were upset with new data showing that 43% of the breadwinners in this country were women. The gang of four then somehow linked this data to the end of the American century and the decline of civilization. Thankfully, Megyn Kelly and Greata van Sustern of Fox, who apparently weren’t invited to the conversation, chastised the boys for being completely off base.

But the boys still in a junior high mood refused to admit how off the wall their comments were. Rather than blaming the growing gap in income in this country and the shrinking of the middle class, these blowhards blamed hard-working females, usually single moms- another bonehead move to alienate women voters.

Finally, there is the evangelical pastor who said with a straight face and of course God on his side that drinking Starbucks coffee was anti-Christian. The pastor’s rant was brought on by the Seattle coffee company’s support of gay marriage

Now not only do most consumer boycotts fail, but this religious outburst linking Starbucks to ungodliness can only bring a smirk to younger Americans, who are the prime visitors to the barista bar, respond to polls as overwhelmingly pro gay marriage and last election were solid Obama supporters. One more ill-advised comment by the conservative right designed to upset a key constituency.

So there you have it, just a few examples that the GOP still doesn’t get it when it comes to understanding America and Americans. You’d think they had learned a lesson on how to win votes and influence voters.


March 19, 2012

Not since 1976 when Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford for the presidential nomination have the Republicans experienced such a spirited run for the heart and soul of their party. In ’76 it was the “accidental president” in Ford versus the movie star governor, the old guard versus the new upstart. In the end Ford won the battle but lost the war and in the process made Reagan a shoo-in for the nomination in 1980.

Switch to 2012 and again the Republicans are fighting among themselves over who should be the standard bearer of the party, but this time it is a complicated contest with four contenders battling over who can come across as more conservative, more rigid. The competitors stress their ideological purity more than expounding on their confidence in making Barack Obama a one term president. From an electoral and political point of view this intra-party battle is rather strange and self-defeating as more time is spent fighting among themselves rather than making the President look bad.

It gets stranger and more self-defeating. The Republican Party leadership is quietly preparing for a brokered convention in Tampa as there is a real possibility that no one will come to the big party with the required 1,144 delegates to seal the victory. This is what happens when ideology trumps practicality, when issues overshadow power, when compromise is seen as the enemy of purity.

It is no big secret of politics that holding the center, being moderate, occupying the middle of the road is the key to victory. Just ask any Republican what happened to arch-conservative Barry Goldwater in 1964. The Democrats are no different. Ask them what happened when Eugene McCarthy and Walter Mondale took their party off the rails. Quite simply elections are won when the American people are convinced that the occupant of the White House will govern not from the margins, but from the center.

So far none of the candidates on the Republican side is brave enough to occupy the center, so what has happened is that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are talking to the marginal voters, not to the American people, especially the independent-minded Americans who consistently describe themselves as moderate. The result is that the Tampa convention may turn out to be great theater, but not the breeding ground for electoral victory in November. Who knows maybe ol Mitt will get the 1144 by August, but it won’t be pretty and all this blood sport won’t convince the American voter that the Republicans deserve to run this country.