Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
As the Republican Party meets this week to assess how to revise the party’s national viability, perhaps it’s less of a case of reset, but more a case of renew. Find that young, exciting dynamic political party it used to be. I say this because, like the stereotypical Old Man Jenkins who chases trespassers off his property, shaking his fist and holding a gun, the GOP finds itself an increasingly old, bitter, reactionary and hermit-like demographic. Angry more than thoughtful, or even helpful.
It didn’t start that way. It started with an energetic embrace of a set wishful values. Values thought to match the times and the path to greatness. During the modern Republican Party’s rise in the 80s and 90s, it was a party that merely thought those not falling in line were just simply clueless about how great the party and its values were. Even when falling in line meant accepting inequality. Imagine Don Draper from the 1950’s Mad Men era puzzled why women and minorities don’t just settle down and serve him unquestionably in the present. After all, that was the working system in his heyday.
Just as we all lock into cultural styles as we age, from hairstyles to clothes, Republicans became too comfortable with policies and ideas that, though they worked once, became comically out of date in the age of technology, global commerce and demographic shifts. Like someone who keeps wearing his or her Steve Austin leisure suit to the modern workplace because it was cool–once.
The Policies the GOP “wore” too long:
Religion. Less people self-identify as evangelical or religious. Or separate their politics from their religion.
Gay Marriage. The majority now supports gay marriage and openly gay people in public life.
Immigration. When the people you trying to keep out will soon be a voting majority, time to change plans.
Sex. In the hook-up culture of today’s youth, messages about saving yourself and abstinence come off like a 50′s health filmstrip (filmstrip? Ask your parents).
As the GOP saw America had the gall to evolve and older Republicans were shocked into a greater fear by the scarcity imposed by the financial crisis, “Old Man” GOP became even more cantankerous, bitter and angry about events that have the audacity to challenge his worldview of how things should be.
Even though conservative radio and Fox News were there to sing the soft lullaby of “You’re fine. Other People Are Lazy or Don’t Know Their Place” to help them sleep at night and cling to ideology, Old Man GOP became extremely territorial and hostile to encroachment or trespass on things he believes he owns. One reason he needs his gun (to make sure you “get off my lawn!”). Claims “I built it!” 0r why Republicans began legislating a series of self-interested, defensive policies (like Voter ID laws. Now voter apportionment). Unaware or simply doesn’t care a growing portion of the American public doesn’t believe or openly snickers at such reactionary efforts.
It was at the point where anger and keeping a status quo environment started driving policy. That came as a loss of being a party of big ideas. Instead being a party constantly on angry offense. And picking candidates dedicated to not changing a thing.
We saw this culminated in the “Party of No” and “Party of Hell No” during the 2010 midterms. We saw big idea shelved and replaced by angry rants telling others to keep their distance. The shaking fist, “get off my lawn” statements like:
“Get out of/ this country/my pocket/Medicare/ definition of marriage/the voting booth/that Planned Parenthood clinic/my gun collection/etc.”
An anger blind to public sensibilities–like a guy who, says, “Broads” or that “You just got to smack some sense in to women.” Something socially acceptable to say in the 1950s. But like how some in the GOP keep saying rape can have some upsides or can be fake, seem woefully out of date and off-putting to Americans in ascension now.
But there are good ideas at the heart of the Republican Party. Rewarding hard work. Fiscal responsibility. But like any other idea, if it doesn’t adapt, it dies. And the Republican Party is dying of old age. Ready to die in a blaze of cranky anger if it fails to reclaim youthful ideas. The Democrats were saved from political and cultural old age by the then 43-year-old Bill Clinton. The GOP can be saved, too.
So the party that now seems to stand for “Get Off my lawn Party” need to be the “Get with the Program Party.