Last week I wrote that the conservative movement would crash this year because of internal disagreements and the inability of one candidate to unify the Republican Party’s fractious components.
Then I waited to see what the next few days would bring. They were uglier than I could have imagined.
Mitt Romney came out against the rescue of GM, even though the auto giant reported record profits and a sustained increase in hiring. Not to be outdone, Rick Santorum expressed the same sentiments, which makes Romney’s stance even more vexing because Mitt’s supposed to be the business savvy candidate with a keen eye for profits and efficiency. That they both agree with each other shows just how out of touch the GOP is. What sense does it make to oppose a policy that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, revived the tax base of scores of towns, and forestalled what might have been an even worse mortgage and foreclosure crisis in Michigan and Ohio, among other states? Being anti-Obama is one thing. Being pro-ignorant of consequences is quite another.
On the contraception front, both men made sure that they offended a wide swath of the electorate, starting with Santorum backer Foster Friess’s comments about gals using aspirin between their knees as a reliable form of birth control. We also found out that Santorum views contraception as harmful to women. The uproar was so great over this issue that Mitt Romney was forced to veer away from his economic message and attack President Obama as waging a war on religion. As it turns out, the Republicans are waging a war on reason as poll after poll showed that most Americans and most Catholics supported the president’s policy.
I understand the religious objection and think that the Obama administration could have managed the issue more delicately than they did, but in catering to the most base of their base with appeals to hatred, war, and sexism, Romney and Santorum showed that the far right demands absolute fealty to their cause. Discussion and debate is not an option.
Marriage equality was also in the news this week and the GOP was on the wrong end of that debate as well. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a legislature-backed bill to grant equality under the law to all citizens and called for a referendum on a constitutional right. His veto will be overturned by the deadline in 2014. Bank on it.
In Maryland, the marriage equality bill will be signed by the Governor, but will probably be on the ballot this November. Opposition by African-American churches make passage difficult to gauge. Washington State also saw a bill pass, but opponents have vowed to delay or stop it.
The short-term prospects for these bills might be cloudy, but the sun will shine on marriage equality simply because it’s the right thing to do and the demographics support eventual passage of these laws in a number of states. Younger people support marriage equality (even Republicans) in far greater numbers than their older counterparts, a trend that began last year. Since death of the older generation is inevitable, so is marriage equality.
And there’s more. Santorum also questioned the President’s religious beliefs and Romney has had to protect his right flank against accusations that he’s not conservative enough. With the economy beginning to grow the GOP has to bank on things getting worse. Their new line of attack is high gas prices. Wasn’t that George Bush’s fault in 2008? No? Then how can it be Obama’s in 2012? Anybody hear of supply and demand? Anybody?
It seems as though the Republican candidates we have this year will be the ones remembered for the “Fall of Rome” for their party. They are too extreme, too conservative and on the wrong side of the generational issues. They talk about progress while making sure that we regress into a less tolerant past that they’ve convinced themselves was rosy. It’s one that blamed women who were sexually active and slammed the closet door on gays and lesbians. It was intolerant of those who decided they didn’t want to be religious. We’re not going back to that time.
We’re moving forward!