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The Nadir, Hopefully


Unless something changes quickly, the whistle of the descending whip is coming.

It’s over, and I hope this presidential election will prove to be the nadir of that process in my lifetime.

The nation has been getting more politically polarized for years, but this was the first time I felt that family relationships and friendships decades old were endangered. There were phone calls I didn’t make over the last few months because I didn’t want to “get into it.”

I don’t have a television, so I was blessedly free of all the ads. However, there has been a steady flow of propagandizing emails from aggressive conservatives in my circle. I yearn for the good old days when each diatribe would have cost 50 cents. The U.S. Postal Service would have become solvent.

Actually, I am always interested in individual thoughts. However, I received as attachments or links a huge amount of combative material produced by people I don’t know that was sometimes mean-spirited, paranoid, condescending, untruthful, and even irrational. At first I studied it as a curiosity, and then I began to ignore it. My watchword for the year was Refrain. However, I got fed up several times and reacted, and I think there was at least one humorous provocateur who was going for that.

At this remove, I think all precious relationships will endure, and I’m wondering what “the other side” has learned. I was on that other side for years until I started getting uncomfortable with the radicalization that the Republican Party embraced as a winning strategy. I think this election has made it very clear: This is not going to work.

So what lies ahead? Columnist Maureen Dowd wrote yesterday that if we listen closely, we can hear “the death rattle of the white male patriarchy.” That may be going too far, but more women voted overall than men, and 53% voted for President Obama. Since 1972 and with occasional dips, the feminine vote for Democratic presidential candidates has risen steadily. This is a trend.

In addition, the Republican Party needs to register that Hillary Clinton lurks. Even some of my Republican women friends commented early on about how impressive she was as Secretary of State. She undoubtedly needs to rest now, but she may run for president in 2016. Think about her intelligence, her knowledge, her experience, the respect and sympathy she has won, and the fact that she may in the meantime become a champion of women’s causes world-wide. Another “first” for president looms.

Now let’s look at the men. Although 72% of white men voted for Romney, they now constitute only 34% of the entire electorate. And although the 1% in that 34% invested millions in the “Super PACs” devoted to Romney, it was a monumental waste of money. I’m imagining wealthy white men with white hair turning white-faced. Pitifully outnumbered, they need to consider recruiting by creating opportunities for other men–and women–to prosper. Otherwise, there’s Hillary.

It seems time for the Republican leadership to sit down and figure out how to broaden the party’s base by developing a new platform that appeals to moderates, independents, and the greens. The radicals with their “my way or the highway” attitude should be encouraged to form their own party and enjoy life on a side road.

Conservative columnist David Brooks is my reference point for the change I would like to see. I don’t always agree with him, but I’m always interested in what he has to say. I greatly admire his intellectual depth, his pragmatism, and his civility. He wrote earlier this year that a sound thrashing in this election was the best thing that could happen to the Republican Party, because it would force it to rethink. The adjective “sound” didn’t apply in 2012, but the party should be on high alert nevertheless. Unless something changes quickly, the whistle of the descending whip is coming.

4 Responses to “The Nadir, Hopefully”

  1. Lynn Peyer

    Like Judi, I never left the Republican Party, they abandoned me. I wish there were some way we traditional Republicans could marginalize the right wing and take back control. Until then I’m just going to be an unhappy independent.

  2. Judi Hendricks

    Thank you for a refreshingly un-dogmatic approach to issues that concern us all. Recently a long time friend asked me when I left the Republican party. My reply was that I never left the party. The party left me. I foresee a long career as a registered independent.

  3. Kate

    My favorite conservative talk show host – local NM guy Jim Villanucci – was having a lot to say the day after the election. He was pointing out that Republicans just can’t expect to win presidential elections with only 44% of the female vote (though I am surprised they got that much) and 29% of the Hispanic vote. He also pointed out that you don’t have to agree with another person’s views on a topic – the polarizing right-to-life v. freedom-of-choice issue, for example – but you will make more headway in looking for a solution if you treat the other side with respect. Let’s drop the insulting name-calling, shall we? Given that reasonable people can usually find a point on which to agree, perhaps the two sides of this issue could get together on the concept cutting down the number of unwanted pregnancies, so there are fewer abortions about which to argue.

    The Republicans may not want to compromise their values – it’s “they” now because I am an officially registered Independent — but if they want to have any influence in this process, they need to stay in the game. That requires a serious change in strategy.

    Less mean-spiritedness, please, from everybody.

    • celeryellen

      Right on!

      I saw a clip in the paper today, though, on an interview with Mike Huckabee. He commented that the party’s shift on social issues would be difficult, “because those are not political issues; they’re deeply held moral positions.” Groan. That sense of moral superiority is really hard to work with, and it often seems to express in a very–how shall we say?–discourteous way.