Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Watching the Culture Wars Changing

The Republican House met its Waterloo of sorts last week when a group of Republican women objected to making rape victims report their victimhood to the police in order to qualify for a rape-driven abortion. The men who wrote this bill weren't thinking about a gender backlash. The band of sisters certainly were.

A first: An abortion bill failed because Republicans want the women's vote. Who would have thought?

E. J. Dionne gets it right in this column. It doesn't mean that Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and the rest of the clown-car reactionaries won't fight the last war over and over until Nov. 2016.

Should be entertaining, watching Republicans twitching between a war on women and a war on Hispanics. Not the post-2012 rewrite the party was hoping for.

Update. Conservative columnist Michael Gerson chimes in with a thoughtful column:
Any strategy that pits the white working class against immigrants should also attract heightened moral scrutiny. It is one thing for a political analyst to recommend a get-out-the-whites strategy. But when this thought is consciously entertained by a politician, something disturbing has happened. We have too much tragic history with political lines drawn along ethnic and racial faults.
The issue of immigration has a way of clarifying some of the deepest beliefs of a political movement. Does it regard outsiders as potential threats or potential allies? Does it empathize or dehumanize? The public character of a political figure is often judged by voters — especially immigrant voters — intuitively, by signals and symbols. When arriving at a party, you generally know immediately if you are welcome or not.
No effective reconstitution of the Republican Party’s appeal can begin with pessimism about the drawing power of Republican ideals. A party that has lost the ambition to convince is a party in decline.
A strange place for a political party to find itself: how to alienate the fewest constituencies. The GOP wisely cut the number of primary debates almost in half. Why? To alienate the fewest constituencies, of course. Problem? A number of GOP candidates will still be alienating various constituencies.

The hope, expressed by Gerson, is that the GOP will figure this out rather than be "a party in decline." We'll see.

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