Recently, the GOP leadership realized just how bad of a mess they're in. They've realized that the people they're supposed to represent are becoming angrier and angrier that they aren't doing the job they were hired to do. They're "launching an outreach initiative" to try to hide the chasm they've dug between themselves and their voters.
They'll fail. They'll fail because they're operating under a whole host of wrong assumptions.
The Democrats are, if anything, worse, depending on the issue. In my opinion, what they've done with and to their voters--i.e., removing the option of choosing schools from families that cannot afford private school tuition, encouraging dependency upon government programs, and telling one of the key blocs of their voters (the blacks) that they cannot get ahead without government assistance because of racism--is far worse, because the majority of their voters don't even see the chasm.
Frankly, I'm unhappy with both sets of congresscritters. I don't appreciate half of the elected Republicans assuming that the nation is swinging left on all issues. I don't appreciate the other half of the elected Republicans (and many Democrats) assuming that the majority of the nation are narrow-minded bigots.
I think many Americans think the way I do: that smaller government is the way to go.
The Republican party assumes that the majority of Americans are socially conservative. If, by that, they mean that most Americans believe in family, and believe in parents loving and teaching their children, they're right. Honestly, I don't think there's a politician out there that doesn't understand that family, however each voter defines it, drives voting. Where I think the Republicans get it wrong is the values they think Americans ascribe to.
Most American voters don't give as much of a damn about the social issues as the Republicans think they do. We aren't so much against civil unions as we are against loud, obnoxious activists that want not equality but special treatment, and as we are against judges usurping the powers of the legislature with their rulings.
The thing is, no one can tell you that you're not married if you feel you are, and no piece of paper can make you feel that way if you don't in the first place. Hence, the rates of infidelity and divorce amongst straight couples.
All that piece of paper does is get your name change filed in records, and permit you to claim certain privileges. Privileges, not rights. A right is something you're born with, and gays have exactly the same rights as straight people do. They have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They have the rights the government is forbidden to mess with by the first ten amendments. They have the right to be offended, or to choose not to be offended, by small-minded creeps--just the same as I have, or as my husband has.
They don't have some government granted privileges, true. And I have no objection to them being granted the same privileges I have, as a married woman. (God knows if they're allowed the government recognition the rest of us have, the marriage penalty in filing taxes would never be an issue again, no matter who's in charge at the federal level.) And I don't think that most Americans feel that differently. It's the word "marriage" that seems to get so many up in arms--on both sides--yet no one realizes that the government doesn't do "marriage," and hasn't since the advent of the easy divorce on a whim laws.
So, no, going farther right into bigotry or farther left into wishy-washy isn't going to fill the chasm. America doesn't care as much about the social issues as the Republicans think it does.
What most of us care about is our individual rights, about fiscal policy (specifically, our taxes and the way the money's spent, about the national debt and ginormous budget deficit) and about foreign policy. Most of us who feel as if we have no representation in Congress believe that the Federal government has taken too much power from both the state and especially from the individual with the laws passed criminalizing everything from driving without a seatbelt to smoking in your own car with the windows cracked if your kids happen to be with you.
I think that what the Republican party forgets is that we hired them to work for us, to represent us in the composition of new laws and the imposition of new taxes. The Republican party forgets that most of us that vote for them are voting for them to prevent the levying of new taxes, or the increase of taxes we already pay (the huge cigarette tax hike is a good example of where they failed to represent us). They forget that we hired them to make sure the federal government doesn't trample our rights as stated in the first ten amendments any further than it already has.
And they all, Republican and Democrat alike in their zeal to increase the size of government through programs the government was never authorized by the United States Constitution to create, forget that we hired them to prevent the federal government from spending us into international debtors' prison.
The Republican party is killing themselves through not understanding that most of us are closer to classic Liberalism than to either Liberal Progressivism or Social Conservatism.
I'll be writing on classic Liberalism next week, just for clarification of what I mean by that.
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