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A Final Politics Post

lj-music: Ikimono-gakari

Well, folks, the election's done, and I wish to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama. He won soundly, and earned his new job. Let's now all cross our fingers and hope that he really is as good as we all think he is. It's gonna be an interesting four years, folks.

I'd like to conclude the series of journals I've been writing on politics here with a commentary on something I read in the news today. It probably comes as no surprise that the Republican Party is doing some soul-searching right now, demonstrated well by this AP interview with RNC Chairman Mike Duncan:
Republicans, Duncan said, "are going to take a deep breath and listen to the American people." The party is creating a new online forum that will allow people to explain "how we let them down" and "what we can do to restore confidence in our party," he said.
I'm a registered Republican, a moderate centrist. I voted for Obama.

Why? I voted for Obama not because he himself was a centrist — he's definitely not — but because the modern Republican Party and its platform moved so far away from the center that it didn't include me anymore, and Obama at least tried. There is no "big-tent GOP;" if anything, the GOP's tent shrank remarkably over the last few years to exclude nearly everyone who's not a hardcore evangelical Christian.

So, GOP, when you get your forum up, here's what I'd suggest if you want my vote again:
  • No more dumb wars. You can wage a war if you want, but focus on the target and have an end-game. If you can't explain from the outset in exacting terms precisely what victory looks like, you shouldn't be involved in the war in the first place. I know people who voted against you because they lost friends in Iraq — but you dishonored those losses by never giving them meaning, by never showing how they could add up to victory. Iraq's a loser because it has no end-game; Afghanistan's tolerable to the American public because there's an exacting target: If we kill or capture bin Laden, the war's over.
  • Curb your evangelicals. I know the Christian Coalition is a respectable chunk of the Republican base, but there are a lot of us out here who see the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of the world as cut from the same cloth as the Ayatollah. The more influence they have over you, the less I want to be anywhere near you.
  • Prioritize wisely. Guns, God, and gays are fine topics, but when there's a war on and the economy's in the toilet, most of the public doesn't care whether gays are marrying or teenagers are getting abortions because we have bigger problems to deal with. All politics is local, and you lost because you didn't pay attention to the highest local priorities.
  • Litmus tests scare people away. In the same vein, if you want a bigger tent, you'd better be willing to let moderates back into it. I don't cast my vote based on which candidate shouts loudest about abortion, pro or con: I'm more concerned with fiscal issues than social ones, so when you play up the social ones, I tune out, with good reason.
  • Remember your platform. You're the party of small government and fiscal conservatism --- or at least you used to be. For eight years now, you've wasted money like a drunken teenager on spring break. When you were actually conservative, people voted for you, but right now, you're more liberal than your opponents, and the voters can see that.
So there you go, GOP. You have four years to reform yourself and show me why I should be voting for you again. Good luck; you'll need it.


Alas, I think the Republican party has become so fringe-right and isolated that it's in danger of becoming irrelevant; typically its current membership will be the last to perceive this. I can only hope that Obama's Administration is centrist enough to pull in the moderates like you and me so the necessary repairs and reforms can be implemented.

Meanwhile, everyone blames the other side. Who's taking responsibility for actually fixing the mess? Are there any real leaders remaining, or are they all taking their cues from the demagogues?