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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The election, the GOP, and the American Dream.

Many have pointed out how in various ways- GOP policies are out of touch with the changing demographics and views of the population.  This is important and it is true, and if one studies the trend it is a problem that will only get worse unless they change course and not just how they deliver the message.

Some have talked about how the right duped themselves into believing that the polls were skewed (or whatever word you want to use for it).  This is part of a bigger, two-sided phenomenon- that they refuse to stand on what they believe and fail to recognize that it is out of touch.  In campaigning they consistently meander so far to the left that they sound like the opposition.  This is not good for thinking people- as it is impossible to ascertain what they stand for, and it is not good for their movement as they are never able to have their positions weighed fairly in the "court-of-elections."  Also it is not good for America as they continue to waste a lot of resources impeding progress that could otherwise be achieved.

This election was significant for the democrats as Mr. Obama and the movement on the left had their platform validated by bravely standing on it.  From higher taxes to gay marriage- they came right out and said what they stood for and were re-elected in the process.  It is also important to note that to win- even the democrats had to hone their platform- (their platform literally) to reflect the views of the American population.  They came out and said we want higher taxes on the wealthy and a majority of Americans agree.  See:  "Large majorities" of the public "oppose major changes to Medicare" and favor higher taxes on the wealthy.  And also the majority of Americans support "same-sex marriage" at about 54% this is not a large number but it stands in a trend.  See: Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States 

Shortly after the election Speaker John Boehner said: “It’s clear that as a political party we've got some work to do. I think the principles of our party are sound. We believe in individual responsibility, we believe in empowering our citizens, we believe in the American dream and want that dream for everyone,” 

Well those are the "principles of their party" that are not only sound- but sound good.  But who doesn't believe in "individual responsibility?"  Who doesn't believe in "empowering all of our citizens?"  And who doesn't want everyone to realize the American dream?  

But moreover what does any of that even mean?  Is individual responsibility bearing, raising, supporting a child of a rapist?  Or is it paying your mortgage?  I think this is a moral issue, and that what he is getting at is something that is already in everyone: the desire to retain a level of responsibility- one where they are accountable for their actions and work to achieve self-reliance. 

And as far as the rest of it I have to say I don't know what the "American dream" is.  I think the "American dream" exists within all of us and is different for each of us. We used to know what the "American dream" was right?  Getting out of high school, getting a good job, buying a house, getting married, maybe having kids, and eventually having a comfortable retirement.  This is one "ideal," but "ideal" it is something different for everyone- and the GOP doesn't seem to acknowledge that "their ideal" is not everyone's ideal.  I think this election demonstrated that so far they will hold onto their "ideal" even if it sinks them.  They forget that they are serving the population and not a subset of it.

But let's move on to the rest of what he said: "I think the principles of our party are sound. We believe in individual responsibility, we believe in empowering our citizens. We believe in the American Dream. We want that dream for everyone. But how we talk about who we are as a party is clearly—clearly conversations are underway and will continue."  

A short conclusion is in order here.  It is not just how you talk about who you are.  It is who you are and what you stand for.  If the GOP continues to think that they will move forward by simply putting a fresh coat of paint on the old car, by making better ads, and most importantly failing to acknowledge a changing country- it will work as well as it did this time around.  If "who they are" is a movement that is unchanging then they will sure realize obsolescence in the democratic system.  Indeed at the very least they need to "change course and not just how they deliver the message."


  1. One of the main problems is they are trying to pitch an American dream that never existed outside of Hollywood and perhaps the privileged upbringing of the party leaders. The world of Ozzie & Harriet and Leave it to Beaver never existed outside of a film studio but this is the fictional world of a perfect America that Republicans keep trying to "get us back to". It never existed. Instead we had the cold war, racism and the battle for Civil Rights, and unrest around the world with American fingers in many countries.

    1. Right and perhaps I should have been more focused. What I was trying to get at is the more fundamental concept that they do not even allow themselves to see that what they are selling is something that a majority does not want. They refuse to change.

      I think it is hard for them to change though. For them to be more successful they do need to change. There is a lot of talk about "evolving on immigration" (to court the Hispanic vote). But I think it is hard to balance that with the exaggerated message they have been feeding their base for decades. Also just having "some Hispanic guy" as a candidate won't be enough for them.