Conservatives Ignore the Obvious

For a long time, it's been obvious that GOP politicians and media personalities bend backwards to avoid raising what are supposed to be settled social issues, lest they turn off certain voting blocs.  Whether it's the Supreme Court redefining marriage for all fifty states, the dismantling of Confederate monuments, or wishing to find a "path to citizenship" for various groups that are here illegally, Republican public relations experts try not to notice these issues, except to criticize those who won't accept "necessary" or "positive" change.  This attitude is partly attributable to the fact that Republicans are trying to capture at least some of the culturally leftist Millennial vote.  What's more, they're hoping not to get hammered too badly among racial and ethnic minorities that typically vote for the left (here, in Canada, and in Western Europe).

The Republican establishment and their conspicuously neoconservative advisers, moreover, have their own interests and donor base.  Evangelicals in Texas may contribute votes to Republican victories, but contrary to the prevalent opinion of the Huffington Post and the British Guardian, these pious souls don't run the party.  GOP operatives in all probability don't give a rap about overturning the Supreme Court's decision on marriage to please moral and social traditionalists, but they do favor what their respectable donor base want: a pro-activist foreign policy, tax breaks for corporations, and widening their electoral base among left-leaning blocs.

If any doubt in this matter ever crept into my mind, it was immediately dispelled by a conversation I heard on Fox News on January 3 between Chris Stirewalt and Karl Rove.

The topic these GOP worthies were supposed to be addressing is whether Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a serious shot at wresting the presidency from Donald Trump.  Both thought this senator is most definitely a serious competitor, who combines Trump's populist appeal with a flamboyant speaking style.  The question that Rove and Stirewalt couldn't agree on is whether Warren believes in "markets," as she said she did at some point in her career.  Stirewalt viewed her as some kind of defender of capitalism despite her attacks on Wall Street, while Rove questioned whether she really meant whatever she once said about "markets."

Let me make clear that from what I've heard her say, for example, at the Woman's March (against Donald Trump) last year.  It seems that Senator Warren is an agitated feminist, a fervent advocate of Black Lives Matter, and a champion of every demand put forth by LGBQT activists.  Missing in this side of her political persona is a monumental omission, and presumably, Stirewalt and Rove were committing this omission as "professional" Republicans, who are conceding troublesome social issues to the left while focusing on something called "markets."

Let me say that even if I were an outright Marxist, I would still not vote for Warren, who is not really a socialist, but a crazed warrior against the list of human prejudices she ascribes to everyone who disagrees with her.  Her rant at the Women's March suggested a cultural Marxist on steroids.  In any case, her attitudes about "markets" would be the last thing I'd worry about if Warren became president.  That would be like judging Castro by whether he was providing enough Band-Aids for health clinics in downtown Havana or Cesar Chávez by how many soccer balls he gave out to needy kids.

This careful sidestepping of the problem of Warren's true radicalism may tell us something about how Stirewalt and Rove would have a GOP candidate run against her in a presidential race – say, Trump if they condescend to back him in 2020.  This hypothetical candidate would never be allowed to contest any of her social positions or the continuing recriminations leveled by Warren against her opponent as a sexist, misogynist, homophobe, or whatever other slur she raises against the target of her attacks.  They would have to focus on the effect of tax cuts, their greater ability relative to Democrats to intercept domestic terrorists, and saying more often than their competitors that the U.S. is the best country that ever existed.  If forced to choose between the model candidate of Stirewalt and Rove and the perpetually outraged feminist from Massachusetts, I doubt that I could even bring myself to vote.

Having said that, I also believe that the U.S. and most other Western countries have swung so sharply to the left on social issues over the last thirty years that the conflict-avoiding, pro-Wall Street GOP establishment may be right in its strategy even if it gives no evidence of being socially conservative.  For example, although it was unusual to find anyone, outside certain social circles, thirty years ago who thought marriage should be extended to two members of the same sex, by January 2015, 60% of those polled nationwide by CBS considered the redefinition of marriage to be not only admirable, but also a "fundamental human right."  If someone asked me whether in light of this mass conversion I could conceive of Americans, Canadians, and Germans thirty years hence extending the legal definition of marriage to a father and daughter or to a group "marriage" among three generations of the same family, I would immediately answer, "Why not?"  Providing that the public is made to believe it's fighting rank bigots who oppose the further discovery of "fundamental rights," most Americans, Canadians, and (if their country still exists) Germans will be happy to view themselves as standing once again on what for former President Obama is "the right side of history."

Despite the fact that the left has won the culture wars hands down, with a big assist from public administration and the judiciary, Stirewalt and Rove may well believe that their party can survive by making the right moves.  Republican P.R. experts will have to convince a largely leftward-leaning electorate that it can profit by voting for candidates with the red label rather than the blue one.  Appeals to the pocketbook and physical security may still work for those designated as "conservatives" even if other appeals do not.  That assumes that Republican candidates on the model of Mitt Romney make it appear that they support at least in principle the valiant struggles waged by Senator Warren against "prejudice."  By then, however, even sane people will have to insist that this self-described warrior for equality really cares about whatever college-educated upwardly mobile voters, particularly women, are supposed to care about.

For a long time, it's been obvious that GOP politicians and media personalities bend backwards to avoid raising what are supposed to be settled social issues, lest they turn off certain voting blocs.  Whether it's the Supreme Court redefining marriage for all fifty states, the dismantling of Confederate monuments, or wishing to find a "path to citizenship" for various groups that are here illegally, Republican public relations experts try not to notice these issues, except to criticize those who won't accept "necessary" or "positive" change.  This attitude is partly attributable to the fact that Republicans are trying to capture at least some of the culturally leftist Millennial vote.  What's more, they're hoping not to get hammered too badly among racial and ethnic minorities that typically vote for the left (here, in Canada, and in Western Europe).

The Republican establishment and their conspicuously neoconservative advisers, moreover, have their own interests and donor base.  Evangelicals in Texas may contribute votes to Republican victories, but contrary to the prevalent opinion of the Huffington Post and the British Guardian, these pious souls don't run the party.  GOP operatives in all probability don't give a rap about overturning the Supreme Court's decision on marriage to please moral and social traditionalists, but they do favor what their respectable donor base want: a pro-activist foreign policy, tax breaks for corporations, and widening their electoral base among left-leaning blocs.

If any doubt in this matter ever crept into my mind, it was immediately dispelled by a conversation I heard on Fox News on January 3 between Chris Stirewalt and Karl Rove.

The topic these GOP worthies were supposed to be addressing is whether Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a serious shot at wresting the presidency from Donald Trump.  Both thought this senator is most definitely a serious competitor, who combines Trump's populist appeal with a flamboyant speaking style.  The question that Rove and Stirewalt couldn't agree on is whether Warren believes in "markets," as she said she did at some point in her career.  Stirewalt viewed her as some kind of defender of capitalism despite her attacks on Wall Street, while Rove questioned whether she really meant whatever she once said about "markets."

Let me make clear that from what I've heard her say, for example, at the Woman's March (against Donald Trump) last year.  It seems that Senator Warren is an agitated feminist, a fervent advocate of Black Lives Matter, and a champion of every demand put forth by LGBQT activists.  Missing in this side of her political persona is a monumental omission, and presumably, Stirewalt and Rove were committing this omission as "professional" Republicans, who are conceding troublesome social issues to the left while focusing on something called "markets."

Let me say that even if I were an outright Marxist, I would still not vote for Warren, who is not really a socialist, but a crazed warrior against the list of human prejudices she ascribes to everyone who disagrees with her.  Her rant at the Women's March suggested a cultural Marxist on steroids.  In any case, her attitudes about "markets" would be the last thing I'd worry about if Warren became president.  That would be like judging Castro by whether he was providing enough Band-Aids for health clinics in downtown Havana or Cesar Chávez by how many soccer balls he gave out to needy kids.

This careful sidestepping of the problem of Warren's true radicalism may tell us something about how Stirewalt and Rove would have a GOP candidate run against her in a presidential race – say, Trump if they condescend to back him in 2020.  This hypothetical candidate would never be allowed to contest any of her social positions or the continuing recriminations leveled by Warren against her opponent as a sexist, misogynist, homophobe, or whatever other slur she raises against the target of her attacks.  They would have to focus on the effect of tax cuts, their greater ability relative to Democrats to intercept domestic terrorists, and saying more often than their competitors that the U.S. is the best country that ever existed.  If forced to choose between the model candidate of Stirewalt and Rove and the perpetually outraged feminist from Massachusetts, I doubt that I could even bring myself to vote.

Having said that, I also believe that the U.S. and most other Western countries have swung so sharply to the left on social issues over the last thirty years that the conflict-avoiding, pro-Wall Street GOP establishment may be right in its strategy even if it gives no evidence of being socially conservative.  For example, although it was unusual to find anyone, outside certain social circles, thirty years ago who thought marriage should be extended to two members of the same sex, by January 2015, 60% of those polled nationwide by CBS considered the redefinition of marriage to be not only admirable, but also a "fundamental human right."  If someone asked me whether in light of this mass conversion I could conceive of Americans, Canadians, and Germans thirty years hence extending the legal definition of marriage to a father and daughter or to a group "marriage" among three generations of the same family, I would immediately answer, "Why not?"  Providing that the public is made to believe it's fighting rank bigots who oppose the further discovery of "fundamental rights," most Americans, Canadians, and (if their country still exists) Germans will be happy to view themselves as standing once again on what for former President Obama is "the right side of history."

Despite the fact that the left has won the culture wars hands down, with a big assist from public administration and the judiciary, Stirewalt and Rove may well believe that their party can survive by making the right moves.  Republican P.R. experts will have to convince a largely leftward-leaning electorate that it can profit by voting for candidates with the red label rather than the blue one.  Appeals to the pocketbook and physical security may still work for those designated as "conservatives" even if other appeals do not.  That assumes that Republican candidates on the model of Mitt Romney make it appear that they support at least in principle the valiant struggles waged by Senator Warren against "prejudice."  By then, however, even sane people will have to insist that this self-described warrior for equality really cares about whatever college-educated upwardly mobile voters, particularly women, are supposed to care about.