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Dr. Joe Wenke Headshot

The Republican Party Is Going to the Dogs

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The Republican Party seems to have a death wish. I know that Republicans would love to run the country, but it just doesn't seem to be this country. I have a pretty good idea of what this other country looks like. I just can't find it anywhere on the globe. It's a country populated entirely by middle-aged, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic white men. They all carry guns, and they're very afraid that at any second something really bad is going to happen to them. Maybe the government will show up and try to take away their guns, or maybe they'll wake up one day and all of the traffic signs and parking signs will be in Spanish. I don't know what it is. They don't know what it is, but something is going to happen to them real soon, and it will definitely be bad.
I also don't know exactly when this death wish thing got started, but it really picked up steam during the campaign for the Republican nomination for president. As Steve Schmidt recently said, "on any given night" the Republican presidential debates "resembled a reality show" rather than a substantive discussion among serious candidates vying for the most powerful office on the face of the earth. I trust Steve Schmidt's judgment when it comes to reality TV since he's the guy who advised John McCain to select Sarah Palin as his running mate. Steve has been doing penance for this colossal misjudgment ever since by appearing as a commentator on MSNBC.

All you have to do to establish the profound wisdom of Steve's reality TV characterization is review the roster of Republican candidates. They included the Godfather's Pizza guy, Herman Cain; ex-Pennsylvania Senator and anti-contraceptive crusader Rick Santorum; former House Speaker and noted ethicist Newt Gingrich; Minnesota Tea Party Congresswoman and Founding Fathers historian Michele Bachmann; Texas Congressman and political Father of the Year Ron Paul; Texas Governor Rick "Oops" Perry; and briefly, Mr. Reality TV himself, real estate developer and chief executive birther Donald Trump. Add to the list the guy who eventually won the nomination, ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who somehow found a way to get to the right of every other candidate on every single issue, and what more can I say?

Well, a few things. Let's start with demographics. Understanding how demographics are changing in this country may be the single most important thing in electoral politics today, and Republicans are getting it all wrong. Hispanic voters totaled 10 percent of the electorate in the 2012 presidential election. Barack Obama garnered 71 percent of the Hispanic vote to Mitt Romney's 29 percent, and it's not surprising. Not one of the Republican candidates for president supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants or their children, and Mitt Romney's solution to illegal immigration was his now infamous "self-deportation" policy. The country is still waiting and will wait forever for the first immigrant to self-deport.

Interestingly Romney's poor showing among Hispanic voters did not cost him the election. That's because he also did badly with other key constituencies, including women and young voters. According to Gallup, the gender gap in the 2012 presidential election was the largest in history. Women voters supported Barack Obama by a 12-point margin, 56 percent to 44 percent for Mitt Romney, while Romney won the male vote 54 percent to 46 percent.

These election results occurred in the aftermath of a series of outrageous outbursts by Republicans on the subject of rape, including a statement from Todd Akin, the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, that women rarely become pregnant in the case of "legitimate rape" and a remark by Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate candidate from Indiana, that pregnancy from rape is "something that God intended to happen." Romney criticized Akin but continued to support Mourdock. Both men lost their senate bids.

Young voters may have been the most decisive demographic group of all and may pose the greatest challenge to Republicans going forward. Among voters aged 18 to 29, Obama defeated Romney 60 percent to 37 percent. Interestingly, the make-or-break issue for Republicans among these younger voters may prove to be marriage equality. In a recent CBS poll, 73 percent of voters under the age of 30 supported marriage equality. But what are we hearing from Republicans lately on this critical issue? We're hearing the extraordinarily offensive and absolutely preposterous assertion that marriage equality promotes bestiality and/or child rape or that there is somehow an equivalence between homosexuality, bestiality and/or child rape. Rick Santorum was the first one out of the gate with this particularly perverse brand of lunacy. Way back in 2003 he stated that marriage has always been "a bond between a man and a woman. ... It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." More recently, we've heard similar nonsense from rising tea party star Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert, and radio talk show hosts Michael Reagan and Rush Limbaugh.

This is serious stuff -- not the bestiality nonsense, but the death wish. Obviously, the Republican Party wants to die, and as much as I disagree with Republicans on just about everything, I feel compelled to help. After all, the two-party system that we all cherish is at stake. Fortunately, I think I have the answer, and it's simple: Do the opposite. On one of the greatest Seinfeld episodes ever, lovable loser George Costanza came up with a brilliant strategy to transform his life: since everything he had ever done was wrong, he would henceforth always do the opposite. And it worked great! He went from unemployed and living with his parents to working for the Yankees and getting his own place. So Republicans, if doing the opposite worked for George Costanza, it can work for you, too.

Oh, wait a second. I just realized. If Republicans did do the opposite, it would work just great, but then wouldn't that make Republicans Democrats? Yeah, it would.

Never mind.