THE BLOG
03/31/2011 10:22 am ET Updated May 31, 2011

Here's Another Nice Mess You've Gotten Yourselves Into...

After the Republicans took over the House of Representatives and several state houses after the November elections, several of my friends expressed morose concern. While I certainly understood their reaction, I explained why they shouldn't worry.

If the Republicans acted smart, I said, they'll concentrate on jobs, jobs and jobs -- just like they gave lip service to during the campaigns, which is why they got elected. But, I added, I don't believe Republicans will be smart. It's in the conservative DNA to get so frenzied over social issues that they can't help pushing them. Instead of jobs, Republican will be filled with such a hubris at having power that they'll convince themselves America wants everything they do and will start crusading for social issues -- none of which the country agrees with them on, and none of which most Americans even wants to hear discussed now. Republicans, I said, will become their own worst enemy.

So it has come to pass. And it's more of a horrific mess for Republicans than even I thought.

In only three months of the new Congress, with the country looking to its leaders for jobs, this is the platform the Republican Party is pushing --

Abortion.

Same-sex marriage.

Cutting Social Security.

Cutting Medicare.

Cutting affordable healthcare.

Cutting education.

Cutting Environmental Protection

Cutting NPR, PBS, Planned Parenthood

Busting public employees.

It's near-impossible to imagine most Americans looking at this list and thinking, "Yes! This is what I want my America to stand for. That's the party for me!"

You don't win elections from the far right -- or far left. You win by convincing the Great Middle that your party has the best direction for America. And that middle, by definition of being "the middle," are not ideologues. In general, they like America's status quo and only get flummoxed when things shift too much one way or the other.

The Republican Party hasn't just shifted far right, it's lost touch with America:

In a CBS News poll, 75% of Americans said abortion should be available to at least some extent.

Where conservatives once could parade masses to the vote against same-sex marriage, today 53% of Americans support it, up 21 points. (Far worse for conservatives is the future, because two-thirds of young voters support same-sex marriage.)

More than 75% of Americans are against cuts to Social Security. And any cuts to Medicare.

Only a mere quarter of Americans now support repealing the healthcare law. In fact, almost half want the law to do more.

And on and on it goes, as conservatives keep taking draconian far right positions so out of touch with the core of America. Angry cuts to the fabric of the nation that Americans cherish. Cutting health, personal security, benefits to the elderly and poor, cuts to children, teachers, the air we breathe.

This is how conservatives are defining the Republican Party for 2012.

Yet it's worse than that. Look again at the list of conservative issues. See if you can pick out something missing:

Abortion.

Same-sex marriage.

Cutting Social Security.

Cutting Medicare.

Cutting affordable healthcare.

Cutting education.

Cutting Environmental Protection

Cutting NPR, PBS, Planned Parenthood

Busting public employees.

What isn't there is jobs. The one thing that got Republicans elected in the first place. In fact, for all the Republicans' flim-flam about "the budget deficit" (which they've never cared about previously), the reality is that their cuts do the exact opposite. What do you think gets lost when making all those cuts? Jobs get lost.

And it gets worse still for Republicans, because to get elected last November they made a deal with the devil, aligning themselves with the "Tea Party" corporations. Yet now, that deal is dividing the GOP: those who insist Republicans keep their "Tea" promises and cut even more, and those who fear of losing the middle ground of American voters and must break those promises.

Deepening the problem for Republicans is that conservatives don't like government, so they have no governing to offer. Because today they are a party only of social angst, that is all they have on their plate.

Last week, Steve King (R-IA) organized a meeting for Republicans considering a presidential run. His own words unknowingly expressed clearly this problem the party faces:

"We need to work on the economic issues, yes we do," he said -- and then added the all-critical 'but' that eradicates what came before. "But," he continued, "if we let our society deconstruct, to the point where it's Godless and faithless and valueless, and..."

And, indeed. And there you have it. The very organizer of Republican presidential hopefuls is telling you that economic issues don't come first in this economic crisis. Jobs can be overlooked. It's mostly about the Godless, the faithless and the valueless.

(Side note: providing health care, social security and education...those are values.)

Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seems to see the hole that conservatives have dug for themselves in 2012 pushing social issues above all. At that same event, she tried desperately to make some, any connection to the economy. Alas, all she got was, "Social conservatism is fiscal conservatism."

Mind you, it's not, of course. Social issues, like abortion and same-sex marriage have zero to do with economics. That means all that remains is fiscal conservatism, which in the end is about cuts that only lose jobs -- and lose the social benefits from society that Americans cherish most.

And Republicans have no recourse but to keep spinning their social agenda, while painting themselves into a corner that is getting tighter and more divided by the day.

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