I wonder how different the Republican presidential race would be if we let the candidates spew all the racial and sexual slurs they want. I suspect a lot of the pretense would melt away very fast. It might be worth it.
Nearly every issue in today’s GOP platform has prejudice at its core, be it race-, sex- or orientation-based. That isn’t to say that all Republicans are racists or vice versa; far from it. Indeed, I know plenty in the party who are truly upset that its extremist elements have hijacked it, and wish it would go back to advocating for smaller government. I don’t blame them for despairing. I would too. Because it doesn’t bode well for the foreseeable future.
Look at the obsession with gay marriage. Why should the government care about the gender of two consenting adults wanting to enter into a civil contract? Church and state are separate, which is why we have divorces, men aren’t allowed to stone their wives to death and adultery is not a civil offense. The point being, we don’t let religious dogma dictate our laws. So why is gay marriage any different? It has everything to do with prejudice against homosexuals. Conservatives are convinced that such a lifestyle is unnatural, and belongs alongside bestiality. They say marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and spread the vicious lie that gays want to disrupt that. They talk about the threat to “our way of life” by “degenerates.” They don’t see gay marriage as a civil rights issue with practical applications, but as an attack on “traditional values.” Of course, they “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” meaning that gays can do what they want, as long as they don’t do what they want.
Same thing with the contraception/abortion issue; it’s just a way to keep women down. Why on Earth would anyone want to deny someone available medication? Because it’s sinful? Please! The government isn’t supposed to bother itself with arbitrary matters of sin. (Republicans have no problem with the tobacco lobby, for one.) Nope, their stance on reproductive issues aims to save “the unborn” from “infanticide” at the hands of “irresponsible” and “promiscuous” girls. They say access to birth control gives people ideas, I guess in the same way that access to Pepto-Bismol makes me want to drink 30 bottles of Tabasco. When it comes to safe sex, the GOP is the Party of No: no sex education, no birth control, no morning-after pill, no abortion, no help once the baby is born. They want women to pay dearly for having sex, even if it wasn’t their choice. It’s social revenge.
And I’m just getting started. Why would today’s GOP declare that liberals — half of America — are enemies of America? Their answer, most often, is that liberals want to destroy capitalism and set up a socialist utopia or a nanny state. That liberals want everyone dependent on government, which conservatives define almost entirely as AFDC (aka welfare), and never includes subsidies, corporate kickbacks, military boondoggles or other giveaways that cost far more than any social program. But man oh man, do those social programs ever get crucified! Given how relatively little they impact our budget, it’s not hard to see why conservatives hate them so much. It’s because they might help the kind of people they don’t like. The “poor.” The “lazy.” With their “sense of entitlement.” Taking money from those who “work hard.”
Such hatred drives education “reform” as well. Proponents of school vouchers have decided that public schools aren’t worth the effort to save. Because who wants their child to waste away in a failing school? I’d think every parent, but apparently not. These people won’t be happy until every “hard-working” kid is in a “safe and clean” private school, away from the “dangerous” and “crumbling” public schools that are mere “baby-sitters” for “troubled youth.” Before vouchers, the push was for “neighborhood schools,” which would serve as an antidote to controversial “busing.” It’s de facto segregation either way.
It’s not just about blacks, either. Our nation of immigrants has become the nation that hates immigrants. Oh, but only the “illegal” ones. The fact that many immigrants aren’t obeying formal immigration procedures really keeps these people up at night — the same way I can’t sleep because some people don’t renew their driver’s licenses on time. Of course, this hyper-focus doesn’t ever lay any blame on either our complex laws or the unscrupulous employers that attract immigrants in the first place. Nope, it’s simply an invasion of “illegal” people from “the border” who take jobs and space from “real Americans.” And they're never talking about Canada, either.
On a global scale, their Christian blitz seems less about morality than about politics — specifically, framing the world in good versus evil. The West vs. the Middle East. Christianity versus Islam. Civilization versus savages. A more secular form of this is the idea of “American exceptionalism” — that because the U.S. is No. 1, we can do no wrong. And because of that attitude, we’ve done a lot of wrong things to the wrong people over the past few decades. Mostly in Middle Eastern countries. Certain ones, anyway.
Conservative pundits are fond of claiming that Democrats get the vote of the poor and minorities because the party panders to them. Well, when one party aims to protect our safety net and pushes for racial, gender and sexual equality — and the other doubles down on halting all of those things — I’d say it’s a natural migration.
These stances are wrong on their faces, but they also practically guarantee political irrelevancy as generations grow more diverse and more tolerant. I like to think this platform is the last gasp of the old Republican guard. I can dream, can’t I?