The best view death I’ve ever read was from Steve Jobs, a former hippie who became one of the biggest corporate icons of the modern era. In other words, he was a Frankenstein monster conservatives and liberals still love to debate. He gave a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, an excerpt of which I’d like to share with conservatives and Republicans alike.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
10 years later, Jobs’ speech still inspires many, including myself. And if the Republicans ever hope to escape spiraling down into irrelevance and mockery, it is something that they too should take inspiration from.
Talk of the GOP’s growing struggle to connect with a changing electorate took place all over the news. Glenn Thrush and Kyle Cheney of Politico wrote “The Grand Old Party’s Future Shock” detailing the various ways Republican candidates have to hedge their language as they enter primary season, where the wrong words can doom a general election campaign.
Philip Rucker and Robert Costa of The Washington Post asked the question in their headline: “In a Fast-Changing, Can the GOP Get In Step With Modern America?” The answer thus far has been a resounding no.
Jonathan Martin of The New York Times was slightly more optimistic (and helpful to conservatives, if you ask me), writing “As the Left Wins Culture Battles, GOP Gains Opportunity to Pivot.” He’s right about the Right. If they want to succeed, moving on or evolving* is the only way.
First let me be clear: I do not support extremism in any form. Being an idealogue makes one close-minded and is the opposite of the inclusiveness and equality that I feel liberalism should stand for. People are not so easily categorized into neat boxes. I may be a progressive liberal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the value of conservatism and the many ways it has and can help America. Hell, I think Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt were two of our best presidents.
But what I never have supported is the modern Republican Party. As long as I can remember, they have stood for the exact opposite things that I stand for. Whether it’s groupthink or mob rule, the reasoned voices within it are consistently drowned out by the rampant greed and discriminatory practices they promote.
I never understood how Republicans reconciled their disparate beliefs on economic and social issues. So, government shouldn’t regulate the “free market” but it should intrude in the personal affairs of every single person and regulate how they live? The free market the Republicans so often speak of seems to mean that the corporations have the “freedom” to fuck over as many people as possible in the name of profits. Exhibit #1: The Great Depression. Exhibit #2: The Great Recession (SIDENOTE: It’s telling that each time an economic crisis of such magnitude hit, we turned to a charismatic Democrat to revolutionize our government and get us back on track. Obama=FDR)
Many like Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post called last week the defining one of Barack Obama’s presidency. Which of course means it was many a conservative and Republican’s worst nightmare. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said it was “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history,” a statement almost as absurd as Cruz ever becoming U.S. President. So what happened, Mr. Cruz, that caused this solar eclipse of morality you speak of?
Obamacare was upheld, the way to fair housing was paved, and gay couples across America got the legally got the right they always should have had: to commit to their loved ones in marriage. And that just last week.
The week before that, the Charleston church shooting shocked the world. But Republican candidates couldn’t even decide for themselves whether outspoken racist murderer Dylann Roof was, in fact, a racist. As it became abundantly clear how deranged Roof was – calling for a race war among other things – they couldn’t even come out against the Confederate flag as a symbol of our country’s slave history. That is, until South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley provided the political cover for its repudiation. Suddenly, Republicans couldn’t shut up about how proud they were of Haley’s decision.
Not content to just alienate gay and black Americans, there was little outcry among Republican presidential candidates about Donald Trump’s racist remarks regarding Hispanic Americans during his presidential kick-off speech on June 16. Here is the quote.
“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
This seems like a field day for liberals already, but I’m not even done. Pope Francis recently issued an encyclical – a word which here means “becomes part of Catholic theology” – warning that climate change was both a real and moral issue. Here’s how Catholic Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum responded to God’s representative on Earth.
“The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”
At a town hall event in New Hampshire, Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”
Yeah, Jeb, because it wasn’t Reagan and the Republican party which made Christian evangelicals and the religious right a central part of their political process. I’ll hand it to Reagan though – he knew how to make powerful coalitions of interests that our current crop of Republicans can only dream of. Hell, I’m an atheist and even I agree with the Catholic pope. What is this topsy-turvey world we are suddenly living in?
One where white people are no longer the dominant political power, thankfully.
The US Census Bureau concluded two years ago that the white American majority would be gone by 2043, just in time for the post-Millennial generation. Speaking of the next generation, according to Politico, 60% of young Republicans support gay marriage. I’ll put it another way: with that kind of youth support, the Republican Party might even get the White House in 2020. Change can be good, even for the Grand Old Party!
Look at your best candidate, Marco Rubio. He’s a Cuban-American with a great immigration story – and yet the party is so dogmatic, Rubio had to turn on his immigration bill just to keep in line.
I was raised in school believing in the American melting pot, that we were a nation of immigrants with a Statue of Liberty that reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” And yet, as much as we preach it, we don’t practice it.
But change is the reason this country was founded! Change was the reason our founders made our Constitution a living document to be amended, not a static piece of paper we are beholden to. We stand for the ability to self-determine our own fates, big and small, and for the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Every Republican candidate railed against the marriage equality ruling; the only difference among them was their level of indignation. Some of it is because how presidential candidates are selected. In order to get the general election next fall, they have to survive a gauntlet of conservative voters in states like Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. People like Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – people who, I will confirm for everyone past, present and future, will NEVER be Republican presidential candidates – will continue to make it focal points of their campaigns until they either lose or run out of money.
Sure, they’ll make headlines with their bigoted remarks but at the end of the day, their very beliefs are poison in a general election. They cater to shrinking-yet-vocal segments of the American population. They’re all bark, no bite. We as a country will watch as the actual good ideas hidden deep in the Republican machine are swallowed up by their whiny, foot-stomping candidates.
You don’t even have to look at the candidates response to the court ruling. Simply read the dissenting opinions in the case itself and you’ll see, the best arguments the four conservative Supreme Court justices could come up with was “It wasn’t like this back in my day!”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts took this a step further, citing the Han Dynasty, the Carthaginians, and the Aztecs as prime examples of the longevity of traditional marriage. Yeah, that’s right. The human-sacrificing Aztecs knew as much or more than today’s Americans, according to the most powerful judge in our country. “Just who do we think we are?” he concluded on pg. 42 of the Supreme Court decision. Oh, I don’t know John, not mass-murdering primitives?
Smart Republicans are actually calling the decision a victory for them; these wedge issues, if put to bed, could allow them to focus on things that actually matter, like the economy and foreign policy, areas where Republicans are typically strongest.
“At the end of the day, it’s an untenable position to be against ultimately millions of actual Americans’ marriages and commitments,” said Steve Schmidt via Politico. Schmidt managed the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. You may have seen him portrayed by Woody Harrelson in HBO’s Game Change, which chronicled the McCain campaign’s disastrous pick of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate.
Time moves in one direction: forward. That’s why we’re called progressives. Now, I’m not telling anyone what to think, feel, or believe. Nobody can or should regulate people’s thoughts and opinions. If it makes Republicans happy to continue being miserable about gay marriage, by all means, keep being happy/miserable about it. Seriously, go on railing against liberals, complaining about how “your” America is gone, and how we’re on the swift road into Satan’s arms. Just know this:
It will cost the Republicans the 2016 presidential election.
Hey, I said you’re free to think whatever you want, not get whatever you want.
Conservatives: I am sorry you are associated with a party that is taking your ideals and shaming them. Republicans: if you do not change, if you do not adapt, you will die out. And then America will be the liberal wonderland godless heathens like myself desperately desire.
Evolve or die. Republicans? Your move.
*I hope some creationist gets pissed off that I used this word.
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