August 10, 2012 · 0 Comments
Above: Photo Illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr/Special to The Politics Blog
By Charles P. Pierce:
Bear in mind, when you read the account in the New York Times of how young people are moving the Republican party toward moderation on those troublesome “social issues” that make the party look like a cracker factory, that we heard all the same stuff about the “Tea Party” two years ago, and that those people have made defunding Planned Parenthood — and restricting contraception, and general consternation about ladyparts and the ladies who own them — their trademark issues ever since they took office in Washington or, more particularly, in the several states. Well, all of those, and voter-suppression, which is, at its heart, a modern manifestation of the original “social issue” on which modern conservatism — and thus, modern Republicanism — built its brand, namely: Holy Christ, Black People Are Citizens! The Times may have this one right; the young GOP-ers quoted seem totally sincere, and the party is staring into a demographic abyss over the next 10 years, but I’m going to have to see it to believe it. We begin….
Matt Hoagland, the county leader of a group of young North Carolina Republicans, is busy trying to ramp up enthusiasm for Mitt Romney at the grass-roots level. So there are a few things he avoids mentioning to prospective young voters he wants to woo, including the hot-button topics like abortion and same-sex marriage, which have dominated campaigns past. ”Social issues are far down the priorities list, and I think that’s the trend… That’s where it needs to go if the Republican Party is going to be successful.”
(First of all, only in the Republican party can someone who’s 27 be considered “young.” We continue.)
I wish Mr. Hoagland luck. As I may have pointed out, I lived under the barely distinguishable gubernatorial leadership of the man for whom Mr. Hoagland is presently ramping up support among those Republican hipsters who don’t care about tattoos. This was the guy who said he’d be gayer than Ted Kennedy on the issues, and who stated his firm belief that Roe v. Wadewas settled law. Where exactly does Mr. Hoagland believe this guy went? Or, more to the point, would he like to hazard a guess as to why that particular Willard Romney was dispatched to the Phantom Zone over the past five years?
Zoey Kotzambasis, vice president of the College Republicans at the University of Arizona, considers herself a conservative. But she supports both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Those are not just her opinions. ”A lot of the College Republicans I know share the same liberal-to-moderate social views,” she added. ”And I think that’s changing the face of the party.”
Again, as we say around the Fens, good luck to you and the Red Sox. Here’s the thing, Zoey. You have a problem with your sample here. You and the College Republicans with whom you hang and talk about all those things that don’t matter to you? You guys are the social and economic elite, just the way the College Democrats are. Out there in the hinterlands, where your cool-beans outreach doesn’t extend, there’s a whole generation of young people just your age who are learning their history and their science and their politics from their home-schooling parents, and in their Christian academies, and from their pastors, and I assure you that these young people do not share your equanimity as regards abortion and gay people, and any appeal you make to them is going to fall as flat as would a phone call from Bernie Sanders. Go to a Christianist county meeting in Bogalusa or New Richmond, Indiana or some place and make the case to your fellow Young Republicans that everything their preacher has told them about gay people is wrong. I’ll be by afterwards to pour you a shot of Jameson, which you are definitely going to need.
“When it comes to what you do in your bedroom, or where you go to church, or where you want to put a tattoo, we just couldn’t care less,” Mr. Hoagland said at a meeting last month of young Republicans in Charlotte.
Thought experiment: Mr. Hoagland runs in a Republican congressional primary and he actually campaigns on what he said there in Charlotte. His opponent is a young assistant county prosecutor who has the backing of the local pastors, and who runs a series of well-financed ads in which he “defends the unborn” and “stands up for traditional marriage.” Let’s give Mr. Hoagland the benefits of 100 doubts and say this campaign takes place in 2020. Who ya got?
There are a couple of glaring flaws here. We’ve just mentioned the first one. It assumes that the party will “age out” of its intolerance without taking into account: a) that without intolerance, there is virtually nothing to modern Republicanism, and b) that there are just as many young conservatives who are energized by anti-choice rhetoric as there are who are energized by the kind of Cosmo Randianism that these folks are pushing. The split always has been irreconcilable, largely because one side firmly believes that their political positions are ordained by the Most High. Unless the young Republicans in this piece intend to take a full-throated stand against the snake-handlers in their midst, and unless they’re willing to take some bloody primary defeats to attain that goal, then everything they told the Times is really empty.
The other problem, of course, is that the Republican party’s economic ideas are just as nutty as their positions on the “social issues,” and more thoroughly discredited by events. (Supply Side economics has been tried twice and it has failed twice. Meanwhile, the effort to roll back the right to choose has been conspicuously successful.)