Which Way Republicans?
I used to think I understood Republicans even though we disagreed on most big issues. Actually, I have voted for several and even helped elect a few in Cook County—plus a non-felonious Illinois governor and a U.S. senator in my murky past.
I understood conservatives such as Milton Friedman and Bill Buckley and certainly the late Tom Roeser, a founder of the Chicago Daily Observer, who hired me to be the alternative left-progressive voice on this conservative-oriented website.
These days, however, I have a hard time grasping the essence of what true conservatism is and where the Republican Party is going. There are moments, frankly, when the party looks both suicidal and fratricidal.
After failing to make Barack Obama a one-term president in a year that history and logic said he should lose, and after not only failing to recapture the Senate but actually losing seats in a year the same logic said they should have taken it over, you would expect perhaps a little introspection into why the party itself has sunk well below the Democrats in most polls. (Let me assure the GOP that he will definitely be held to only two terms, but another popular Democrat lurks on the 2016 horizon.)
So why in the world did the Republican minority in the Senate block passage of a humanitarian UN treaty protecting the rights of the disabled—based on our own Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by a Republican president? In the wake of the 2012 election the GOP came face to face with its problems with African Americans, Latinos and single women. Now they want to offend another minority group?
How about closer to home, when the GOP-led House initially refused a bill offering financial aid to the states devastated by Hurricane Sandy. That one roused even conservative Republicans—including Gov. Chris Christie, who is seen by many as the best bet for 2016—to denounce their own party. They scrambled to partially correct the vote but still looked terrible.
Then they let the Violence Against Women Act expire, offending women more.
They struggled to keep tax cuts for the affluent, though wisdom finally prevailed and a portion of them helped stop the impending slide down the fiscal slope. Not, however, without threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage and trigger a major depression if they don’t get their way by cutting Social Security and Medicare—which will not endear them to the elderly, who still constitute part of their base.
What lies ahead? They could lose the House if they keep acting like cruel, misogynist plutocrats at war with everyone, including each other.
Consider this: Arizona will soon turn blue. Without a major fix in Latino relations—which ought to be top priority—Republicans minimally stand to become a permanent Electoral College minority.
Consider the potential of Hillary Clinton winning two terms while the Latino population grows. It could mean the end of the Grand Old Party. Is that what the tea partiers really want?
To repeat: I simply don’t understand Republicans anymore.
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer