Tuesday, May 19, 2009
You can stick a fork in the once mighty right-wing GOP. The Republican Party, to quote the hilarious Billy Crystal character in the magical film The Princess Bride, is "mostly dead." The majority has clearly swung to the center, becoming a much more moderate representation of the party. Statistics now show that more Americans have abandoned religion and the hot button social issues that used to be conservatives' bread and butter campaign themes. What's more, the evangelical wing, the party's core base just a few short years ago, has shrunk to negligible, insignificant levels.
It's 2009, and we have a black president, a black chairman of the Republican National Committee, a female House Speaker, and gay marriage laws being passed around the country. How sweet it was to see President Obama acknowledge RNC head Michael Steele at the recent White House Correspondents Dinner with a jovial "Wassup, Michael!? Michael Steele is in the hizzy!" This is definitely not your father's America. Finally.
The nation is reeling from the worst financial crisis in 80 years, and it's mired in two wars which are sapping our financial and emotional resources as we struggle to keep the country safe from terrorists.
And then there's President Obama, who tackled the controversial subject of abortion head-on in yet another brilliantly delivered speech at Notre Dame last weekend--as he did with race back in 2008--and which proved, by the overwhelming support of students and faculty alike, that the staunchly conservative pro-lifers who tried unsuccessfully to undermine his appearance are in even smaller, more insignificant ranks than ever before.
Obama is also doing more to bridge the nation's great political divide than any president in history. My dear friend Bryant, a die-hard Republican, and who for years I've used as a barometer to measure the pulse of the fringe wing of his party, sent me an email Monday acknowledging Obama's bi-partisan efforts, but somehow the real meaning and intent of them was lost on him:
"...Obama's at least smart enough to sense that we live in a center right country. That’s why he kept Gates. That’s why his speech at Notre Dame called for each side in the abortion debate finding common ground with the other side. That’s why he appointed a Republican as ambassador to China (Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman)."
What Bryant, and others like him, have failed to grasp is that our president--an inexperienced 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama, who Republicans have called the most liberal Democrat ever--managed to get himself elected by bringing a new message of hope, change and bi-partisanship to our sick nation. These are themes on which he campaigned. Promises he made to voters. That Bryant reduces this to some cheap political triangulation strategy--something to be mocked--once again proves that the extreme right-wingers out there still do not understand how and why they lost the White House and both houses of Congress last November, or why they're about to hand Democrats the Senate's first filibuster-proof majority in 30 years. Clearly, if we're judging the nation's political leanings by the actions of voters, this picture is hardly one of a "center-right" country.
The more Republicans fail to see why they lost, and why Democrats won...and the more they continue to waste time, energy and financial resources on abortion, guns, God and gays instead of focusing on what voters really want, which is an end to war, recession and the incessant partisan bickering that ravaged our political system under Bush/Cheney, they will never again hold power, and their party will go from mostly dead to all dead.