Monday, November 12, 2012

Redefining the Republicans?

As we all know, President Obama won re-election and Democrats solidified their majority in the Senate, with the House of Representatives still Republican dominant.  And as much as I dislike politics, I couldn't help but read some post-election commentaries, such as this, "Christian Right Fails to Sway Voters on Issues."

The current Republican party is so far to their end of the extreme it's no wonder that they failed to win the election.  This got me thinking.  What is meant by "conservative" and what is meant by "traditional?"  These in and of themselves aren't sinister terms that should be tabooed.  Indeed, many people may consider themselves conservative or traditional but still be alienated by the current gestalt of the Republicans.

I've read that Republicans tend to favor market forces and believe in individual responsibility.  These are things that many people can rally behind.  They are less in favor of government hand-outs and give-me's, and as such are likely to be more restrictive on social safety nets for the poor or disenfranchised.  Still people can rally behind that notion when they believe they shouldn't "rely" on the government to pull themselves up or have seen others abuse the system.

Republicans generally are in favor of less taxes on (preferably) everyone, but the current Republicans want tax cuts for the wealthy to a fault. Wealth is really a matter of perspective.  How much does one need to live comfortably?  How much does one need to enjoy life?  Yes, money is hard-earned, but taxes exist for a reason and without them, many things in society would simply cease to function.

Health Care
Republicans are united against "Obamacare."  Fine, I get that.  It's not a perfect bill.  But if you're going to attempt to repeal it, you better have a viable alternative ready to go as soon as it's gone, because the status quo isn't benefiting anyone.  Is health care a right?  Is it a basic right?  A civil right?  Is it a privilege?  Is access to health care a right?  These are philosophical questions that our society must determine.

Alright, Republicans are generally anti-abortion.  Fine.  But I take issue when they say they're "pro-life."  They are not pro-life.  If you're going to oppose abortion, you better set up a support system for the children and mothers whose lives are affected.  If you're going to oppose abortion, you must make it okay for a single mom without a high school degree to give birth.  This takes investment, time, infrastructure, and of course money.  If you're truly pro-life, you'd campaign to have all kids vaccinated.  You'd campaign to have every child be in programs such as Head Start and Birth to Three.  You'd campaign to help single parents find jobs or tax credits for education.  You'd campaign to offer prenatal care at Planned Parenthood, not cut its funding across the board.  This is truly pro-life.  But it all costs money, and where does that come from?  Taxes.

Republicans are pro-family.  But really, aren't we all?  Their problem is that they haven't kept up with what a "family" can be these days.  Yes, a family may be the nuclear family of parents and children.  But it can also be an extended family, where one lives with aunts, uncles, and/or grandparents too.  It can be a single parent home.  It can be a gay or lesbian couple.  All studies suggest that it matters less what kind of structure the family consists of, and more the love and care provided by that family.

Republicans are against LGBT rights at large, but particularly gay marriage.  It doesn't hold much water with me from a legal perspective.  There is a difference between a civil marriage and a religious marriage.  Churches and other places of worship may refuse to consecrate a gay marriage, but that doesn't mean that the state should refuse as well.  In America where we profess to be open, accepting, and tolerant of all religions - where we believe in separation of church and state - where is all that here?  The same arguments made against gay marriage is exactly the same arguments made against interracial marriage several decades ago.

The Republican party has a dearth of minority representation, and it has so far made little to no attempt to attract minorities.  It's really a shame.  Many African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latino-Americans likely agree with the Republican's economic stances and their sentiments about family.  Yet the Republicans have managed to alienate all of these groups.  Immigration reform, if done well, would begin to sway some Asians and particularly Latinos to the Republicans.

Republicans should be truer to the word "conservative" when it comes to environment.  The US has one of the greatest natural resources on the planet, and while it's something that we should tap into, it's also something that we should protect and cherish.  Investment into alternative energy would definitely open up job opportunities and drive innovation.

There's a distinctly anti-education sentiment in the Republican party these days.  I do believe everyone should have the opportunity to attend college/university if so inclined.  I do believe we should invest in recruiting more people to become teachers, and to hold schools accountable (to a degree, this a very complex topic sufficient for its own post).  Teachers and their unions shouldn't be made out to be the bad guys.  It's not easy being a teacher.  If the Republicans don't do something to advance education, the US will continue to slide further and further behind.

Anyway, this post is long enough.  The point I wanted to make is that the Republican party, at its core and true to its moderate members, is not a bad thing.  But they've drifted so far from where they should be that they've become hypocritical.  Perhaps this election has kicked their butts sufficiently to see that what they're doing isn't working and will never work.

And this is a nice article to end on, "The Great Experiment."


Biki said...

You explained the gap between what the republican party says, and what they actually stand for. Your points on family, abortion and health care were spot on. Why is living in a country where everyone has access to a doctor such a scary bad thing? How can you restrict abortions without giving these pregnant women a life line to a better life? And why oh why is their version of family the only correct, legitimate one? Its not 1950, time has flowed by, our world has changed.

Republicans hate education. Hate science. And I swear they dont want anyone to attend school past the 8th grade.

With so many of the republican party mouthing such things as: evolution is only one theory, earth is only 6,000 years old, and rape is a good way to make babies, how are they be so surprised that they lost the 18-29 year old voters?

This party is totally out of step, not only with the voters, but with the times. Wake up republican party or you will soon be history.

naturgesetz said...

There are several areas where I disagree with you. Perhaps the strongest disagreements are over abortion and LGBT.

I think it is, first of all, a confusion of distinct questions to try to say that to be pro-life one must support specific measures dealing, not with life itself, but with conditions of life, quality of life. Second, you seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that pro-life people do not care about the other matters you mention. Just to cite one example: for years I got mailings from a group called "A Pastor's Concern," founded by a Protestant pastor to provide for the needs of unwed pregnant women, so that they could provide for their babies. There are numerous such efforts.

THe arguments against gay marriage are most definitely not the arguments that were used against interracial marriage by segregationists. The segregationists could not possibly argue that marriage had been universally understood as being only between members of the same race or that interracial marriages could not possibly fulfill the procreative purpose of marriage.

I can't resist adding that I've never noticed the anti-education sentiment you speak of. While it's definitely not a bad thing for state schools to let everybody give it a try, I think the way to avoid falling further behind other parts of the world is to make education more rigorous. It isn't putting people in educational institutions that makes them learned. It's insisting that they meet high standards.

Aek said...

naturgesetz: One - dealing with conditions of life directly affects life itself. If you were to divorce the two, you will see mortality go up. Removing or limiting people's access to prenatal care and primary care drastically affects life itself, not just quality of life. Life and death isn't a black/white dichotomy, there's a lot of gray in there to move people towards one or the other. Also simply being anti-abortion ignores the root issue of why people want to have abortions in the first place.

Two - while there may be numerous such efforts that I applaud, they are drowned out in the media. You hear a politician speak about "legitimate rape" and somehow weeks down the road still having the backing of his party - that is not right.

Three - read this article:

Four - You make a distinction about gay marriage that's hardly ever discussed. The rhetoric is indeed very similar. Watch this clip:

Five - anti-education is more than just schools. It's a cultural shift. When a presidential candidate says he will defund PBS and NPR, both of which employ media to educate the wider community outside of schools, that is troubling. Yes we need high standards but we must also have a cultural shift back towards placing an emphasis on education. Read this article:

SCalRF said...

I'd like to make a larger comment at some point if I remember (it's late now), but I just thought I'd use Rick Santorum as an example of what's wrong with the Republican Party. Not only is he anti-LGBT and anti-abortion, his rhetoric is pretty anti-education, at least higher education. He suggested that Obama's desire to allow everyone to go to college makes him a "snob."

. said...

Nice posting Aek...kittens or not. haha. I usually agree with most everything you write and today is no exception. It's nice to take your thoughts out and sort them out so well. Happy Thanksgiving!! :)

Maddy said...

You have the trend in Congress backwards. The House of Reps is Republican dominated and the Senate Democrat dominated.

Aek said...

Hey Maddy, thanks for the correction.