file, Star Tribune
GOP need not change to win
- Article by: REG HENRY
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- November 22, 2012 - 5:32 PM
Although my subject today is the recent presidential election, hitherto ignored for reasons of reader fatigue, this will be a no-gloat zone. And if you believe that, you may be the winner of a fine set of old encyclopedias, slightly used.
OK, some gloating may be encountered, but the trouble with a good gloat is that every victory carries the seeds of future defeat and every defeat prepares the soil for the flowering of a new victory.
In politics, when you are up, you are up, and when you are down, you are down, until such time as you are not. Given this ever-turning cycle of changing political fortunes, it is a wonder anyone takes politics seriously. You won't find me falling into that trap.
But take it seriously people do -- and when the inevitable disappointment happens, their hearts are broken. Now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected, to the satisfaction of liberals like myself and the irritation of everybody else, the Republican Party has become unusually reflective and has been doing some actual thinking. What should the party do differently to be able to win future elections? Will it have to embrace reality?
Nothing quite so drastic. While many pundits have suggested that the party should reach out to Latinos, for example, it is much smarter to do nothing. Just wait for the tide to change, as it surely will, to lift the GOP rowboat from the mud.
Let us look at the conservative philosophy and how pleasing it is to those who adhere to it over the long term. No doubt you have heard about the right-wing bubble, which is said to be impervious to all information not coming from Fox News or beloved radio cranks such as Rush Limbaugh. Having a cohort of people readily supplied with talking points makes for easy management of the message.
GOP chiefs should ignore anyone who says the bubble is a problem. The party doesn't need any facts from outside the bubble. The problem with facts is that they are so -- how shall we say? -- factual.
That Latinos preferred Obama in the election by a wide margin is a problem for the party, but not as big as advertised. Apparently, Latinos saw punitive steps being taken against illegal immigrants and feared that they would be confused with them. Who knew people could be so thin-skinned?
The remedy is not to cease saying bad things about illegal immigrants -- that has given conservatives too much pleasure -- but to make room for approved Latinos in the right-wing information bubble or echo chamber.
Another possible remedy is to diversify the party's enemies so Latinos don't have to be singled out so much. As you know, fear and loathing of something is absolutely essential to the conservative worldview.
If there were not reflexive hatred of illegal immigrants, liberals, gay people, outspoken women who refuse to bake cookies, atheists, Muslims, presidents supposedly born in Kenya, Iranians and Hugo Chavez, a great, paralyzing blandness would settle on the party. Republicans always have a bonnet; they just need a bee or two to get in it.
Perhaps Laplanders could be added to the list of suspect people to hate and be obsessed about. When was the last time a Laplander said something nice about America? Rick Santorum could be told that Laplanders are sitting around doing lap dances, thus launching a moral crusade that will take him to the White House.
To be a conservative is to be like a bather at a beach. As the inevitable tide of social progress comes in, the bather must keep moving his towel higher up the beach so it doesn't get drenched by the advancing waves. Eventually, the bather must sit in the dunes with his towel, knowing that all his previous moral stands and obsessions have been washed away like so many sand castles.
Don't throw in the towel, conservatives -- just move it up the beach and start again. There will always be a demand for your services, and not only to keep those rascally Democrats in line. In any given period, many voters are looking to crack down on other people they don't like on the basis of facts that may not be factual but conform to existing prejudices.
If you decide to follow my advice and do nothing to react to the election, please, please, keep blaming the media for all your problems. While it does compromise your stand on taking personal responsibility, I can't tell you how flattering it is to be thought so influential. We in the lamestream media were under the impression we were about as relevant as old encyclopedias.
* * *
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.
© 2016 Star Tribune