One year ago today I was on the cardio machine at my gym, watching the TVs perpetually tuned to the Golf Channel, Home & Garden, the local NBC, and Fox News. It was a day or so after Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama by a wide margin. Fox had a significant amount of hand-wringing in their analysis of the week’s events. Bill O’Reilly declared that the major reason behind Romney’s loss was the declining number of “traditional Americans.” According to this narrative, Romney did not fail to win the presidency because of his generally charisma-free presence, his status in the 0.01% during the era of Occupy Wall Street, or his declaration that he despised 47% of the country- but because the “traditional Americans” were being overwhelmed by the layabouts who wanted “free stuff.”
Given my status as a direct Mayflower descendant who did not vote for Romney, I took this weak analysis as a barely-coded racial dogwhistle, the real meaning of which was that there weren’t enough white people to give Romney the win (unless he was actually talking about a declining number of witch-burning New Englanders with buckles on their shoes, which is true.) Speaking as an Alabaster American, I wrote an uncharacteristically frank piece entitled “Letter to a Republican Strategist Regarding White People.” (Unique visitors to date: +/- 1,000,000)I have voted Republican in the past, mostly back in my home state of Vermont. I am quite moderate-to-conservative by nature, but George Bush’s lack of native fluency in English, Dick Cheney’s distilled evil and a regiment of ignorant, superstitious rubes soured me on the Republicans. This begat my simple observation that if they wanted to win the votes of people like me, they might do simple things such as win wars, balance budgets and accept the Earth as being older than a few millennia. You know, be all competent ‘n’ stuff.
I offered the Republicans the following three choices if they wanted to win elections on the national level:
1. You drastically moderate your platform to harmonize with the policy positions I present above (balancing budgets, believing in science, etc.)
2. You disband the party and reorganize it to reflect current realities
3. You kick and scream and stamp your feet and call me and my friends names – and submit to several decades of one party rule
It’s been a year since my article. So far, the Republicans have picked option 3. Since I still don’t want one-party rule, clearly I need to keep instructing these confused fellows about the various techniques needed to achieve electoral victory. Given the success of last year’s article, I have determined that the only way to communicate about American politics is to use terms like “clusterfuck” and prance around wildly. Fine by me; I retain this capacity just for such occasions.
So strap on your Huggies, Republicans! Stop trying to log onto Healthcare.gov for half a minute, Libruls! Allow me to indulge in what I hope will be an annual fiesta of profane straight talk. Until the Canadian government finally lets me and the Missus move to Montreal and exchange this political shitshow for one just as dumb, but starring the Parti Québécois, I still have my God-given right to produce diatribes about the moronic state of American politics. Everybody ready?
Republicans: how ’bout you stop talking about the gay butt sex for two minutes?
So, after your stunning defeat in 2012, you regained your bearings. You thought long and hard about winning a permanent majority, retaking power from those feckless and ignorant Democrats and thus saving a grateful American people from a future run by risk-blind bureaucrats and ruthless union bosses. You were chastened by the tragic losses in elections that easily could have been yours, like the one featuring my neighbor, Todd Akin.
A perfect example of how insane social “conservatives” can lose easy electoral contests, Akin dropped a cataclysmic 25% in the polls after revealing his beliefs about the magic power of ovaries to differentiate “romantic sperm” from “rape sperm.” Voters in Missouri were lukewarm on Claire McCaskill to begin with, and polls showed her losing by a good 7%. But Akin snatched defeat from the jaws of victory purely by showing how his absolutism on abortion had led him to the cognitive dissonance of a lunatic. To underline this point, Indiana’s senate seat could have easily remained Republican as well, had it not been for candidate Richard Mourdock declaring – a week before election day – that children conceived by a rape were “a gift from God.”
So: it’s 2013, a warmup to the big mid-term election next year, and what have we got from the Grand Old Party? Ken Cuccinelli, a candidate for governor of Virginia who decided to spend valuable political capital blathering about the “gay agenda” and actually trying to reinstate the criminalization of oral and anal sexual contact among adults.
OK, just so we’re all clear on this, after the defeats of 2012, Republicans are campaigning against BLOWJOBS.
What’s next, a serious initiative against winning lottery tickets? Grandmothers? Flower girls at weddings? Maybe you could outlaw f***ing bacon, while you’re at it! Yeah, a federal law against bacon – that will do the trick!
And for the love of Pete, who did you lose to? Virginia is a pretty conservative place after all – home to Pat Robertson and Cooter’s Garage from the Dukes of Hazzard. Holy shit – it must have been some political wunderkind, the charisma of JFK with the eloquence of Jefferson all wrapped in the OH F*** WAIT, NO IT WAS TERRY MCAULIFFE! The Attorney General of Virginia – a guy doing an actual job – just lost to one of Clinton’s bag men, a guy who leaves a trail of slime wherever he goes. Mcauliffe is a standard, tired out, scandal-laden greasy 1990’s Democratic political hack, and you still managed to lose.
Can I go out on a limb here? Maybe you guys could shut up about gay people for a little while. Start with a minute. Then, if the country is still here, try ten minutes of not talking about using the Federal Government as your platform to stop the homosexuality from happening. After that, take a break, let yourself have an hour of yammering about how gay people made Hurricane Sandy happen. Then, refreshed, try a full two hours of not saying anything about gay people being a threat to the nation, and if America still hasn’t been consumed by locusts, TRY IT FOR A WHOLE F***ING ELECTION CYCLE. You might even be able to beat Bill Clinton’s third-rate political apparatchiks!
Republicans, I have a list for you – are you ready?
These countries have two things in common: bullfighting and same-sex marriage.
That’s right, the guys who invented the word “macho” are ahead of you on the gay marriage front. Oh, they aren’t religious? These are all ultra-Catholic countries. And conservative? One of them was home to the f***ing INQUISITION – and even they got over the whole thing about peaceful, law-abiding gay adults living with the partner of their choice.
It’s over, guys. The machistas in Argentina and Mexico don’t even care any more.
There are two reasons to shut the hell up about your bigotry toward gay people. First is the political mechanics: this issue is a loser for Republicans, now and in the long-term. Go look at polling data which shows a cavernous age gap in support for legalizing same-sex marriage. The Millennial generation is 69-27% in favor of same-sex marriage rights, as opposed to people over 55, who are 38-58% against it. Get it? Every year you are campaigning against the gay butt sex, you will lose more voters. The Millennials are nearly as big as the Boomers, and this issue will sound ever-more detached from reality. If you like losing by wider margins each year, by all means keep bringing this front and center.
My second reason to shut the hell up about this topic is that my gay and lesbian friends who are married are completely adorable and every single one of them more brave than a bunch of shriveled old men who try to use their political office to condemn people they have never met. My gay and lesbian friends are terrific neighbors, awesome parents and fantastic people. So, you know, if you have anything hateful to say about them, please, fuck off instead.
But Eric, what would it look like to run an election without constantly yapping about gay people?
Well, funny you ask! I was trained as “futurist,” and we did these “scenario” exercises for clients, which are like science fiction but based on trends. Hmm, yes, what would it look like to be a conservative running for office who isn’t obsessed about lesbian witchcraft? Maybe something like:
“Hi, I’m Bob Franks. I’m running for [Congress/Senate/Governor] because I’d like to offer the good people of [wherever] an alternative to the Democrats, who are all stupid and smell like cat pee. Maybe you don’t want to vote for Democrats, either! Well great, because here’s my platform as a conservative:
- I’m not going to vote for any new federal programs – we already have enough government.
- Strong defense is good.
- Small business is a the engine of job growth, so I want to reduce tax burden and red tape on entrepreneurs.
- Manufacturing needs to come back to America, so I plan to reduce regulations and give incentives to companies that want to invest in the US of A.
- I believe in fiscal prudence, so I plan to reduce the deficit and always meet our bond obligations.
- Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy showed us that community disaster readiness is critical. It’s one thing that government should be good at.
Thanks! Vote for me!”
Hey, did you see that? There’s no gay people in that platform at all, yet it’s very conservative. Actually, it’s the platform of Chris Christie, the guy who just won in New Jersey this week. Imagine that! A small government conservative who talks about making government smaller and better – without mentioning homosexuals. And he won! Can you believe it?
How to win in 2014: solve somebody’s actual goddamn problem
So if Republicans can’t talk about The Gays ruining the weather, what can they talk about? Well, I have an idea: How about you propose some laws that would solve a problem!
Holy crap, does America even have problems that don’t stem from gay people living together happily? Well, it turns out: yes!
Jobs: You know what people would like? To get a job and work and make money like good little capitalists! But there ain’t no jobs! Republicans like business, right? Maybe you all could focus on making America a place for small business again, instead of just for giant corporations and huge government agencies!
Veterans: The men and women of our armed forces were asked to spend a pretty terrible decade overseas. A lot of them are still hurting. We should make sure they have the best support in the world. There is much to do.
Healthcare: The Affordable Care Act sucks? Well, of course it does! Healthcare.gov is a laughable embarrassment? I agree. Obama and Democrats messed it all up? Sure. And America’s healthcare system still sucks donkey balls. It’s super expensive, horrifically complex and many working people have no insurance at all – including those job-creating entrepreneurs. How about work on a solution to our healthcare mess that doesn’t involve shutting the government down like a bunch of petulant toddlers? It’s 16% of our economy. Find something to make better.
Hell, why go any further? If Republicans focused on classically conservative proposals for just these three problems, they would probably win big in 2014.
But never mind. Next year, we’ll probably just hear from a bunch of morons who are obsessed about what other people do in their bedrooms. Because as I learned in the past year, there really aren’t any Republican strategists.