GOP Struggling for Understanding

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Is it my imagination, or are we hearing about the GOP wrestling with why they lost the 2012 presidential election a little longer than they did in 2008? It’s four months past Election Day, but still, the conversation on all the news outlets seems to always include just one more story about why the Republicans lost.

The angst the Republicans feel is certainly palpable. They cannot believe they lost; they cannot believe that the Hispanic community went in such large numbers for President Obama; they cannot believe that 21st conservatism …lost.

So deep is their misery about their loss that they’ve been talking ad nauseum on how they must change. It’s a new day, they’re saying. “We get it now,” they say, and they’re looking at themselves and their policies …and the way they relate to the masses of Americans. Some of them are realizing, as Jeb Bush said, that people think they are against everything – gay marriage, abortion, Medicare, Medicaid, the poor …They realize that now.

But what they are saying they want to do is change their image, not their policies.

Donald Trump, one of the speakers at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), voiced concern that 11 million immigrants, if allowed to become American citizens, will vote Democratic. Trump said to allow that is suicide. It’s okay to let them vote, he said, but think of what we are doing! He wants America to remain “the way it was,” dominated by white men; “why don’t we let people from Europe in?” he asked.

“Tremendous people, hard-working people,” he said. “They can’t come in. I know people whose sons went to Harvard, top of their class, went to the Wharton School of finance, great, great students. They happen to be a citizen of a foreign country. They learn, they take all of our knowledge, and they can’t work in this country. We throw them out. We educate them, we make them really good, they go home — they can’t stay here — so they work from their country and they work very effectively against this. how stupid is that?” (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/03/trump-white-immigrants-cpac.php).

Very little of what I’ve heard GOP leaders say indicates that the vast numbers of them understand the way the world is changing and how the GOP needs to be sensitive to those needs in order to build their base.  Most of them seem to want to find a way to stay the way they are, while doing what they most to get more brown voters. They still don’t seem to care about increasing the number of black people.

It’s not just the GOP leaders, either. Conservative followers are helping to remind people of why the GOP is suffering a bit now. Footage of CPAC showed a clip where a black guy was conducting a workshop on racism and how people are tired of being called racists. He mentioned Frederick Douglass, who hated slavery…and a white guy gets up and said that blacks, under slavery, had free room and board. Why, he wondered, would anyone want not to be in such a cushy situation?

No doubt, that man would violently disagree with anyone who called him a racist …but he and so many GOP leaders do not seem to understand that the smug attitudes of racism will not be tolerated much more. Discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and lesbians…is going to be tolerated less and less.

It would be refreshing if the GOP really understood that it has had a snooty attitude toward way too much of the American electorate. Some of its leaders are understanding, but it seems far too many still cannot.

The GOP lost because people need to know they matter, and the GOP simply did not reach out to and respond to the cries and needs of a growing number of non-white Americans and would-be Americans. People do not trust a political party which seems intent on letting the poor and the elderly, for all intents and purposes, fend for themselves. And nothing of what I’ve heard thus far indicates that they understand …or care …that it is their policies which have turned so many people off.

President Obama, in spite of his flaws and shortcomings, was and is effective of letting a wider swath of Americans know that they matter. The GOP did not do that, and they are now seeing the consequences of their actions.

That’s why they lost. So, can we note that and stop talking, every day, about why the Republicans lost in 2012? If the GOP cannot move itself into a different mold after seeing what happened in 2012, they deserve to lose…

A candid observation

 

When Laws are Unjust

Sometimes, laws are unjust.

Unjust laws in this country allowing racial discrimination were part of the reason for the Civil Rights movement. With the laws in the nation and in many states in place, African-Americans could not feel protected by the laws, because the laws helped perpetuate their status and injustice perpetrated against them. African-Americans had no voice, “the law” notwithstanding.

In Ireland, it is women whose voices are not being heard. In that Catholic country, laws are on the books which prohibit abortion. Because of those laws, a young woman died after being denied an abortion. Her death has sparked outrage and protest by women, who rallied in front of the Irish parliament this week. (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/15/thousands-rally-outside-irish-parliament-after-woman-repeatedly-denied-abortion-before-dying/)

We depend on our lawmakers to craft laws that protect the people, but in fact there are far too many laws on the books which do not protect but rather support discriminatory or harmful and unjust treatment of certain groups. Women in the United States and in fact all over the world have had to fight unjust laws so that they could enjoy full citizenship which included the right to vote, and still have to fight for equal pay for equal work. And …what women and cannot do with their own bodies is still an issue which divides the nation politically and religiously.

Women in Ireland are fighting for the right to live with dignity. Young Savita Halappanavar, 31, died because in spite of excruciating pain and several requests for doctors to terminate her 17-week pregnancy, they would not. It would be abortion because in spite of her pain, the fetus still had a heartbeat. After three days the young woman died, reportedly from septicemia.

It seems, on this side of the pond, that the laws in Ireland which would allow an otherwise healthy woman to die from a complicated pregnancy, are just wrong and unjust. They are just as wrong and unjust as were American laws which forbade black people to learn to read and write, or which prevented them, and women, from voting.

If individuals are silent in the face of unjust laws, they in essence voice their approval of those laws. That’s a lesson Dr. King drove home as people trained to be non-violent protestors. An unjust law, King said, needs to be broken, or at least challenged. Just because something is a “law” does not mean it is right or fair; some laws beg to be challenged, changed, or struck down.

People historically have challenged laws with which they did not agree. When Brown vs. Board of Education made it against the law for schools to be segregated, many cities and states balked; they thought the law was unjust and did all they could to disobey it, in spite of the law’s directive that schools should be integrated “with all deliberate speed.”  Some schools were closed rather than obey the desegregation order. Other schools took as long as 10 years to begin desegregating.

Anything worth having, including justice, is worth fighting for; and many issues of justice must be fought for. Thousands of women in Ireland are protesting the death of the young mother, and another rally is planned for the weekend. That’s a good thing.

Power concedes nothing without a demand, noted Frederick Douglass.

Douglass was right.

A candid observation …