Steele is at least reasonable and seems like a good guy, unlike some of their other choices, especially Anuzis and Dawson. I have to say that I just saw the funniest post at Redstate:
"We are the most non-racist people around. We judge each individual on their merits."
Yes, Republicans. Electing Michael Steele to be RNC chairman means you are officially post-race. Now if only those African Americans would work harder and stop getting themselves arrested for driving their own cars legally.
Ha, no I don't think they can do it because too many of their leaders are tied up in religion. Even though many of their political leaders don't necessarily espouse fundamentalism, A LOT of their money comes from fundamentalist Christians. It might be that they couldn't survive the loss of that money, and I would bet that fear about losing that money is going to keep them from moving away from religion for a long time.
But I don't think they have quite gotten to the point yet where they realize they have nothing to lose. Their leaders point out (rightfully) that they aren't really getting blown out in most of these elections. Yet. They clearly haven't bought into the idea that young people are overwhelmingly Democrats, and liberal ones at that. It may take another 4 years before it becomes obvious that the trendlines are not with the Republicans. That being said, if younger people and minorities don't roll out in big numbers in 2012, Obama may still win but only by a small amount. That could continue to lull the Republicans into thinking things are not as bad as they really are.
Here is an example. A recent Pew study showed that only 1.6% of people identified as atheist, and only 2.4% as agnostic. So conservatives see that and say "See, 96% of Americans believe in God." But what they miss is that 12.1% identify as "Nothing in Particular." I take that to be "spiritual" or "I believe in God but not religion." Those people, for the most part, are not shoo-ins for the Republican Party.
Even more importantly, and this is something that I think religious conservatives are deliberately self-delusional on this, only 39% of Americans attend religious services once a week. And only 54% go once per month. 46% go a few times a year, seldom, or never. And while Protestants go more often than those of most other faiths (Mormons go the most by far), only 58% of evangelical protestants go every week.
As a liberal and an atheist, I am very heartened by these numbers.
I think that if they really wanted to revolutionize their party, they could do so by coalescing around a "fix ourselves first" stance. Stop giving money to other countries, particularly the ones that don't really like us (such as Pakistan). Go all in on immediate energy independence by any means necessary, including nuclear, wind, solar, and biofuel, and acknowledge that drilling will take too long. Settle on a "live and let live" policy in regards to religious differences, while also compromising enough to try reducing abortions (by finally and fully embracing all forms of birth control, including the pill) rather than simply outlawing them. Attempt to fix education, especially science and math.
Some of these things could be done without huge government spending. They could still hang on to things like being against all forms of entitlement programs, they could continue selling highway rights, they could continue their anti-immigration stance, they could still be for lower taxes, and they could really push hard for a flat tax. They could keep forcefully trying to save gun rights.
They would gain a lot of moderates, especially low-info ones, if they really went with the "common sense" theme and focused on fixing things in a relatively fiscally conservative manner.
The problem is, it would mean essentially jettisoning religious fundamentalism from their party and they seem wholly unwilling to do that yet. But if you think about it, where the hell else would the fundies go? They sure wouldn't become Democrats. And if some of them stopped voting, I still think Republicans would more than balance it out with getting moderates and maybe even some young people.
They wouldn't get my vote, but I could at least respect them. I don't see it happening, though.
On the one hand, there is something to be said for sticking to your principles rather than compromising just to win elections. In the long run, that is often more helpful than selling out for the sake of one 2- or 4-year cycle.
However, the Republicans' core principles are unlikely, in my opinion, to suddenly come back in vogue.
1) A commitment to faith-based reasoning at the expense of hard science (see global warming, renewable energy, evolution).
2) Uncritical, unilateral support for Israel, based partly upon eschatological/endtimes beliefs, specifically that peace in Israel will usher in the Rapture.
3) A relatively harsh anti-immigration stance that ignores changing demographics.
4) Little attempt to understand, or care about, non-dominant culture, especially those of young people, urban African Americans, and Hispanics.
All of these are going to be more problematic in the future. When (if?) the economy turns around, it is possible that the idea of low-taxes, small-government could become wildly popular again. But the four above are very unlikely to be net positives in the coming years and decades.
1) The Western world, including America, has been trending away from religion, especially any strict belief in the accuracy of the Bible.
2) Support for Israel will likely remain strong (as I think it should), but it will be increasingly based on non-religious reasoning. Specifically, Americans will increasingly ask to what extent uncritical support of Israel does for our own security.
3) The increase in the numbers of Hispanics in America speaks for itself, as many will increasingly harbor resentment against an immigration policy that is (and is widely perceived as) anti-Latino.
4) Losing young people, and being wholly unwilling to embrace technology, is going to be a huge problem going forward. Also, as many of the culture wars only 50/50 (ish) when America is a country where almost everyone is a Christian, the trend away from religion also likely means most of the Culture Wars are going to be over after the next decade (abortion, marijuana, gay marriage, separation of church and state).
That being said, I can understand why Republicans do not (and cannot) suddenly sacrifice all of these principles en masse. For their own sake, though, they will need to learn to change gradually if they want to be relevant.
If enough people supported it to get a Constitutional Amendment passed to invalidate the freedom of and from religion clause, then yes. That's how democracy works. I wouldn't still live here, but I don't get to decide what is and is not allowable under democracy.
In fairness, we actually fuck up everything we touch everywhere. Not exactly limiting our damage to the Middle East. Our drug policies are partly responsible for the terrible war going on in Mexico right now. We continue to embargo Cuba just because that's the way it has always been. We want no part of helping victims of genocide in Africa. We economically support China's repressive policies toward its own people. Hey, at least our fuckups are well-rounded.
It may not be an explicit ban on Arab parties as such, but that's what it is in principal. It bans the only two fully Arab parties and pretends like that isn't what it is doing. It's moves like this that make it increasingly difficult to defend Israel's actions. Must be they learned well from Dubya.
Am I the only one annoyed by the fact that none of the board members know what the Flying Spaghetti Monster is? Anyway, by their argument, it's a reference to a deity, so it would be the same as their point about writing in God.
Sorry, I get worked up about people (including liberals) who use polygamy as the slippery-slope response to marriage reforms. Your post just happened to be the one to remind me of it. I think the marriage tax benefits are one of the big reasons that people have problem with gay marriage. They don't always say it, but I absolutely think it is one of the reasons that more than 50% support civil unions for gay people but less than 50% support gay marriage. Yes, part is the name, but it's also about those tax breaks. People say "Ok, ok, you can cohabitate and see each other in the hospital, but I'll be damned if you get to claim each other on your tax returns."
Also, since I am being honest, I really don't think there would be very many voluntary/willing polygamist marriages. I think the potential for abuse and coercion is very high, but I'd rather have us focus on that coercion instead of saying "Well, some of those marriages are bad ones so we should probably ban them all."
Argh. I'm so tired of the "OH NOES POLYGAMY!!" arguments. I don't mean to call you out specifically, your post just reminded me of lots of other people who are afraid of it. I'm going to go on record right now as stating that I fully support allowing polygamy. If many people want to marry the same person, so be it. I don't care what they want to do or with whom they want to live. There is already a law against coerced marriage, and rape, and if we did a better job actually enforcing them, adult polygamy wouldn't be a problem. It's really clear to me that most of the anti-polygamy bias is really just all about tax breaks. So, let's stop giving tax breaks to married people (or civilly united people).
I have to say, I was totally against everything you said until I realized how many exclamation points you used! That must mean you are really passionate about it! Now I'm convinced that you must be right! Thank you!