I am a self described left wing hippy chick. During my great decisions seminars, I joke that I'm the hippy in the room. I am a unabashed liberal, and frankly am not one of those people who needs to use the word progressive instead. Without trying to sound like presidential candidate Jimmy Smits, almost all of the positive change in the last century was enacted by or instigated by liberals. When Republicans instigated social change they were almost always liberal Republicans. In fact, yes, there used to be liberal republicans in my father's day. Until they felt they had to leave.
This does not mean I have never voted Republican, nor does it mean there are not Republicans I admire (or did admire). I lived for over twenty years in the state of Virginia, where one of the great Republican elder Senators originates. John Warner served as Secretary of the Navy and then as a senator for twenty years. So popular in purple Virginia (even with the northern Virginia so called liberal elite) was he that Democrats who ran against him were noting more than figureheads and the one year when actually had a challenge, Democrats turned out in droves for the primary. A moderate Republican, he left because of infighting.
At heart, I am what in the "olden days" was referred to as a New England Democrats. Extremely liberal on social issues and moderate on fiscal issues, put simply.
Recently, I told a friend that last election's Republican loss had absolutely nothing to do with the so called 45 percent. Heck, I am one of the 45, and I am in favor of raising taxes and fiscal responsibility-I lived in a country with high taxes for years and know well that return on taxes can be an advantage. From my perspective then (and now), at the national level conservatives fail because a. they haven't entered the 20th century on many issues, b. they don't care what the majority of Americans think, c. they speak in absolutes.
This week is a perfect example. A current poll states that 61 percent of Americans support continued funding of planned parenthood. One in five women have used planned parenthood in their lifetimes (Including me and my adult children) for basic women's care such as birth control and pap smears and breast exams. Three percent of Planned Parenthood's patients receive abortions, and none are funded with federal dollars. And yet, when a middle aged woman who has been a patient for 34 years approaches a candidate to ask about women's health, the response is simple. I'm not concerned about women's access to health care-I'm only concerned with unborn babies. While that may make a nice sound bite, most Americans are concerned with the former to a greater degree than the latter. And having watched C-Span, the same response is quoted by senator after senator. While I'm used to expecting that from middle aged conservative white guys, hearing it from a female candidate who knows she needs women is well-out there.
And this is only a small part of the disconnect:
- Sixty percent of Americans agree with gay marriage, and a similar amount feel that Kim Davis should go to jail for not fulfilling her oath of office. These are people who recognize that religious freedom is about the freedom to worship, not the freedom to discriminate. Republicans were evenly divided-so this is not a party issue. Even knowing that, conservative candidates stand by her side, sing songs and do whatever else. Apparently they don't think they need that fifty percent of Republicans.
- There seems to be an all or nothing stance from the right. You cannot amend the health care act, mind you. You have to wipe it off the slate, and those people who will be uninsured-well, they can be damned.
- They cannot "just get along". Prior to the last election, I was actually a little nervous. There would be a conservative majority, and who knew what could happen. What happened?? Not a thing. Not because of our current president mind you, but because the current Republican party can agree on-exactly nothing. First term senators are calling the leaders names, and sinking the ship. Had the Republican party manage to be in agreement, huge things could have been accomplished, but instead it seems more fun for people like my old friend Ted Cruz to be a spoiler.
- There's a lack of knowledge as to the real world and how the rest of us lives, as well as a total surfeit of foot in mouth. Access to health care and equal education is not "free" stuff. The United States is not made up of givers and takers. Tax breaks are not necessarily free stuff, and I don't consider job retraining to be free stuff, any more than my pension and social security. And frankly, most of us live in the "middle", politically, socially and otherwise.
- Finally of course, is the evangelical factor. Less than thirty percent of Americans are evangelical Christians, and even less than that are true conservative evangelicals. Politicians seem to forget that us Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists are also both Christians and religious-and that other religions may be equally devout and have values as well.
Will Republicans win the White House? Possibly. Will there be a revolution, a changing of the guard? Heck, No. First you have to get twenty Republicans to agree on something.