Now What?

I’m finding the stories about the new direction of the Republican party to be interesting. Not in a snarky, schadenfreude way way–though there’s a little of that, too–but the problem of what to do when you think you’re doing exactly the right thing and you believe that things are going your way only to wake up one morning and realize that you’ve been completely wrong is an interesting one, and scary.

And this isn’t an easy problem to solve. In the Washington Post, there’s a story of Beth Cox from Hendersonville (please ignore the fact that the reporter claims to be reporting from Central Tennessee, which is not a place in our universe).

“I will be okay,” she told one caller. “I just don’t think we will be okay.”

Here in the heart of Red America, Cox and many others spent last week grieving not only for themselves and their candidate but also for a country they now believe has gone wildly off track. The days after Barack Obama’s reelection gave birth to a saying in Central Tennessee: Once was a slip, but twice is a sign.

If, as Obama likes to say, the country has decided to “move forward,” it has also decided to move further away from the values and beliefs of a state where Romney won 60 percent of the vote, a county where he won 70 percent, and a town where he won nearly 80.

This is a good illustration of a problem the New York Times identified for the Republican Party. Southern Republicans don’t think the Republican party fucked up. They think their position is the right, moral, and just one, but that the country is abandoning it in a terrifying fashion.

From the Times piece:

Many Southern Republicans said that the lessons of Tuesday could be overlearned, and that the message was not the problem — it was the messengers, or at least the messaging.

“I don’t think for a second Republicans ought to change what we believe and what we stand for,” said Andy Taggart, a lawyer in Madison, Miss., and a former executive director of the state Republican Party. “I do think we could do a more effective job of communicating that.”

Nearly everyone admits that the party will have to broaden its demographic appeal. But for state-level politics across much of the region, there is no reason to be in a hurry. The racial and partisan divide is nearly absolute in the Deep South, with a Democratic Party that is almost entirely black and a Republican Party that is almost entirely white. That electoral math favors the Republicans — for now.

You know, there’s a way in which I sympathize with Taggart here. I mean, I feel like I get up every weekday and say things at Pith that seem ludicrous and contrary to reality to the majority of commenters (if not readers) and yet, I feel pretty certain that I am, for the most part, right. On the other hand, it’s kind of mind-boggling that someone thinks there’s some way to dress up “white men retain control of everything; Evangelical Christianity is the state religion; and everything we decide is immoral is against the law,” that would make everyone in the country happy to go along with it. On the other hand, when you have that kind of surety, when you can’t begin to imagine the validity of thinking about these things in other ways, it seems plausible that, if this message is attractive to you, there must be some way to say it that would be convincing to others.

And yet, the truth of the matter seems to be sinking in to some. Ron Ramsey, for instance, is talking about the necessity of roping Hispanics in to voting Republican. He thinks this can be solved by immigration reform of some sort. But we’ll see. The true test of whether Hispanics in Tennessee begin to vote Republican in large numbers will be if Republicans are willing to run Hispanic candidates.

That will be interesting to see.

6 thoughts on “Now What?

  1. Given that the GOP has been making the loudest noises about nonsense like English-only in this state, I’m not holding my breath.

    Stuff like this means “you’re doing it wrong,” just for future reference for Ramsey.

  2. I am so annoyed with people who cannot get the three Grand Division correct. I heard a book reviewer on NPR refer to “eastern Tennessee.” Where? There is no such place. What is so hard about East, Middle, West?

  3. To be fair, I believe this issue should be considered within a larger framework. One could make a similar argument about the Democratic Party in general. Their campaign slogan in this last election was essentially ‘We’re Not Those Assholes.’ Part of the reason for the GOP’s supposed difficulty isn’t just that they’ve become more reactionary and xenophobic. It’s true that they have, but I contend that’s partly because so much of their former policy territory– particularly economic and foreign policy– has been annexed by the Democrats. The poor GOP has nothing to distinguish itself except reactionary right-wing social positions. The flip side, of course, is that the Democrats (often begrudgingly or in johnny-come-lately fashion) appear to be willing to support certain social issues when it’s politically convenient. I imagine this dynamic varies depending on where you are, of course. Neither party is doing shit for working folks.

  4. I think they’re pinning all their hopes on the stupiding of America. Hence the lack of support for education funding.

  5. W., I do sometimes think that’s their plan, but it seems to completely–and deliberately–misunderstand how intelligence works. No matter how hard you deny some people the ability to have a formal education, you’re not going to stop them from seeing through your bullshit. Schooling is just a sharpening stone for the blade of intelligence.

    It refines the weapon. It doesn’t mean if you don’t have access to it, that you’re not armed.

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