Ah, Mitt Romney. I had thought, hoped, we were done with you. You could have been gracious and wise. You could have slipped into obscurity and the exorbitant speaking fees that await you as a failed challenger for the presidency. But no, you had to go and open your mouth and say that President Obama’s victory was the result of “gifts” he promised America’s minorities, women, and college students. You know, the groups you didn’t deign to cater to during your campaign.
Of course, Romney’s comments are utterly asinine and ignorant. Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana and chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has already repudiated Romney’s remark as “absolutely wrong.” Jindal went on to say that “[Republicans] have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100% of the votes, not 53%. We need to go after every single vote.” Of course that’s hard to do when some in your party still express astonishment at the presence of black voters, but it’s a noble goal nonetheless.
The problem for Jindal and the Republican Party, however, isn’t that Romney went off the rails and blamed voters for his defeat. It’s that in doing so, he enunciated the subtext of the Republican Party’s policies. Romney legitimately believes that policies such as universal health care, access to female contraception, or forgiving interest on student loans are the byproduct of the desire of Democrats to secure political positions, rather than policies viewed as a moral imperative or an investment in the quality of life and economic security of the future.
Romney’s statements encapsulate the failure of the Republicans to identify with constituents who actually require these policies to obtain basic living standards. Maybe that’s why Republican policies actually contribute to their constituents’ failure to obtain those standards, even as they decry liberals for doing exactly that for political purposes.
Republicans don’t do this out of malice, but out of indifference or ignorance. The party has become so ideologically driven, obsessed with an unrealistic view of how basic economics function and how society ought to act, that its policies are actively detrimental to those of us who operate under the constraints of reality. Which is to say, most of us.
The last Republican candidate for president who wasn’t a joke was Ronald Reagan. Not to say I approve of the man or his policies, but he managed to get elected and stay elected. He didn’t plunge the nation into two wars, pass legislation that violated the most basic rights of privacy, or authorize torture. (The bar wasn’t set terribly high, is what I’m getting at.) Reagan’s policies, not coincidentally, would be considered moderate in today’s political climate. The most successful Republican since Teddy Roosevelt – for whom the title of “Republican” is grossly misleading – wouldn’t have made it out of the Republican primaries this year.
The rightward shift in political legislation and rhetoric in the past two decades has damaged the ability of the nation to function properly. No matter how badly Bobby Jindal wants to spin Mitt Romney’s remarks as inaccurate, he can’t. Perhaps Jindal believes that Romney was wrong to suggest that the Republican Party shouldn’t cater to the whims of those his establishment deems unworthy.
But if so, Jindal is contradicting his own party’s platform. This platform is based on withholding necessary reforms, or implementations of social structures to alleviate economic hardships. It's about refusing to raise employment via government jobs during a recession. And it ignores new social realities, like the dissolution of the archaic ideals of traditional marriage, and evolving opinions on the drug war.
Republicans like Mitt Romney believe that gross income inequality is a positive attribute of a developed nation. They believe that government regulations on businesses which ensure decent pay to workers, limit pollution, and incentivize job growth and not outsourcing, are anathema. They need to exit from the public discourse in order for the nation to move forward.
I’m not saying the Democrats are the solution. They’re not. They’re a disorganized, spineless amalgamation of inefficiency and incompetence, which has caved to right-wing pressure repeatedly. In order for them to accomplish anything, it will only help to diminish the Republican machine that has driven the dialogue so far to the right.
You might not agree that restrictions on trade, such as import tariffs, are the best means to increase production at home. However, in the effort to diminish the trade deficit free trade has been responsible for massive job losses and has exacerbated the aforementioned deficit. But advocating for protectionism would be career suicide in the current political climate, and that is absurd.
If there’s one "gift" that’s been given lately, it’s come from Romney. Thanks to his campaign, and the statements he and those of his ilk continue to make, it’s become all the more apparent what the country will get from the right, and that it’s time to head left.