GOP 2.0: How the Internet is Forcing the Republican Party to Modernize

As some of you readers have heard me joke, during Election years all I do is eat, sleep & work once October hits and in November, sleep drops off that list completely. On my team there was a running joke that I worked so hard that Election Day was going to be the day I died. It is in that light that this might seem a bit delayed, but here are my thoughts on the Election results and what it means for the next few years for any interested party.

1st off I was personally overjoyed when I heard the news that in all 4 states Marriage Equality was on the ballot we won, handedly. More than any other race in the nation I was most proud that in not 1 or 2 but in ALL of the states where my civil right to marry was placed up for popular vote, that right was affirmed (or in MN’s case not rejected) by straight Americans, and more importantly given Prop 8, by religious Americans without whose support we would have failed.

In terms of the Presidential Election I spent most of the race apathetic to either candidate feeling that either way I would come out a loser. Because of this my plan was to write-in Jon Huntsman for President.Why? Because if President Obama won he would have a mandate on his last 4 years of economic policies that had helped to increase, not reduce our debt and we would be faced with a hard struggle to find a balanced budget with President Obama having less of a reason to compromise with stubborn Republicans. On the other hand if Governor Romney had won I had no doubt that he would feel the need to appease his masters on the evangelical right on social issues and propose a constitutional amendment to Gay Marriage and appoint anti-equality justices to the bench.

However, as the next couple of weeks should indicate, I might end up with a pro-equality President with a Justice Department refraining from defending DOMA at the Supreme Court, and a budget deal that will help us avoid the fiscal cliff that reduces both spending and increases revenue by both rates and eliminating deductions. Rep. Beohner seems to be playing ball with the President on a compromise and even more miraculously is getting his caucus in line despite Eric Cantor and the Tea Parties misgivings of raising any additional revenue complete with defections away from ATR’s No-Tax pledge.

Additionally I seem to have received an early (or late if you look at my hopes from 2009) Christmas present in the form of a resurgence of growing change in the Republican party. Younger Republican operatives like myself have seen 2 Presidential Elections lost utterly by policies that are too negative, counter-intuitive, and out of date with where the country is ultimately headed. Look at it this way, in 2008 America elected a very liberal president and the Republican Party’s reaction was to put forward candidates as conservative as President Obama was Liberal. While it might win you support in small races (read congressional) where turnout and mobilization of the base is crucial and when coupled with anti-establishment views effective it will ultimately cause you to lose in Senate and Presidential races where a broader audience is more engaged with the candidates.

We saw this happen in big ways when 2 Senate candidates were elected by narrow margins in their primaries because of their conservative record and who continued to run on that same conservative platform to the shock and bewilderment of the rest of America who doesn’t think in terms of legitimacy or God’s intent when it comes to something horrific as rape. Those old, evangelical, white men grew up in a world where they saw a shift from radio to TV as the primary news source and who don’t understand the important impact of the Information Era’s last 15 years in refuting stupidity (while celebrating its humor – lookin’ at you Honey Boo Boo Child) and connecting every person, every voter to a handheld fact checker. Does anyone know if Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock understand the concept of a phantom vibration whereas now more than 53% of all Americans have smartphones. In addition to connecting voters to facts the Information Era has also hyper-connected people who 20, 30, 40 years ago would never have come in contact with each other.

In 1967 the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders focused on figuring out what happened, why it happened, and what could be done to prevent instances of rioting that lasted nearly 2 weeks in Newark and Detroit. The Commission reported that America was “moving towards two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal.” The report concluded that segregation had created a destructive environment in the racial ghetto that was “totally unknown to most white Americans.” The information age started online communities where the 2 Americas (or by 2000 more like 5) could combine in such a manner that younger Americans immersed in the digital age could see the racial ghettos, the sexuality ghettos, the ghettos for the dreamers, the gender ghettos and all of the segregations that made us unequal.

This same tearing down of social walls thanks the digital age is one of the main reasons the people of Egypt, particularly the youth, were able to lead a rebellion against their military dictatorship and topple their government in a matter of days, not months or years.

I call this an early Christmas present because the younger Republican political operatives are starting to take control of the party and shift it into a competitive party that doesn’t accuse women of claiming rape as an excuse to use abortion like birth control, a party that doesn’t demonize gay and lesbians who want to join society at the fundamental level of a family, a party that doesn’t cast the sins of the fathers at the feet of their children who are Americans in every way that counts except by birth, a party that doesn’t enter military actions when we don’t have a declaration of war, nor the means to pay for the war both in economic costs and in the costs to American lives.

Some of my Democrat friends have told me that they would prefer a Republican Party that continues to be as backwards as it has been, a party that refuses to see the “totally unknown” ghettos in America because it means that the Democratic majority will grow to a point where the Republican Party is irrelevant and then the needs of all of those groups that have been ghettoized will be serviced. I reject this concept on many levels but the main two reasons are; first are that a single party is always bad for democracy and if you have any doubt look at DC’s Democratic Majority and all the uncorrupted good it has produced. As Rachel Maddow said recently two healthy parties allows us to have intelligent debate about substantive issues in which will create the solution best for all parties. Second, when a political party has 90% support from a voting bloc they don’t have to do anything to promote solutions for the problems felt by those 90% because there is no danger, no fear in losing their vote. I am a realist who knows that every political party doesn’t want to help you as much as they want to help you vote for them.

So I urge all of you, regardless of party, to participate not only in the general election, but especially in the primaries. These contests decide which path your party takes, one that is towards the center with the majority of America or one on the extremes. The only reason we had politicians like Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock in 2012, or Mike Lee, Sharron Angle, Christine O’donnell, or Joe Miller in 2010 was because the extremes voted in the primary.

Aaron Sorkin famously popularized the phrase that “Decisions are made by those who show up” and currently the majority of Americans who do show up for the general election are not showing up to the primaries and conventions where the decisions that matter are made leaving the country with choices that are equally unpalatable to many Americans.

As the 2012 cycle comes to a close and the 2014/16 cycle starts up for me I urge you to support the new shift toward the center by the Republican Party as it is healthy for this country and to go vote in your primary to make the decisions that matter and not leave them in the hands of the extremes of the nation.

  • Amen, brother! My whole life I thought I would be solidly be a Republican, but by the time I was voting age I wasn’t comfortable checking that box on my voter registration. The last election saw me voting for Obama and, honestly–mostly for the sake of local politics–hoping to see a split in the Party that could cast off the deadweight and magnify the vitality of the younger people and others who are more in step with, as you say, the direction the country is headed.

    Anyway, maybe something as dramatic as a party split isn’t in the cards, and that could be all for the better. I’m all with you though in hoping for and working toward the moderation of the Republican party.

  • John Gustav-Wrathall

    The Republican Party lost me many, many years ago.  I occasionally cast a glance in their general direction…  Thought about voting for pro-gay-rights independent Republican Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Arne Carlson years ago (after his party rejected him for his socially progressive stance, but he decided to run anyway).   Arne was running against a socially conservative Democrat.

    But, wow, the stink rising up from the pro-rape candidates this last round was pretty amazing.

    And if gay voters asked the question, What have you done for me lately?  Obama could point to a pretty impressive list of accomplishments.  I was repulsed at the thought of a man in the White House who thought amending the constitution to cut my family out of the mainstream of American life was a good idea.

    I guess you could say I am a gay “pro-family” voter.  We can talk about fiscal policies and foreign affairs.  But when push comes to shove, I can’t bring myself to vote against my family.  Maybe in an odd way that makes me a conservative, because I know a lot of Republicans who vote the same way, despite the fact that so many mistakenly seem to believe that me protecting my husband and foster kids is somehow a threat to theirs.

    So I say, Go Boy! Bring the party into the 21st century and make it competitive.  I agree that two healthy parties is our best guarantee against a corrupt single-party system.  I would love to see the GOP once again become the party of…  You know, that tall man with a beard and a stovepipe hat, the one with a movie that just came out about him written by Jewish Democrat Tony Kushner and directed by Jewish Democrat Steven Spielberg.

    I would some day LOVE to have an election where I am actually required to spend some time thinking about which candidate I prefer.  You know, an election where one of the candidates isn’t clearly out to get me and my family…

    (Have you seen Lincoln, by the way?  Pretty inspiring, from the point of view of what it takes to make politics serve justice and love…)