Older But Not Wiser
Natalia J. Garland
Republicans have just begun what will become a series of
townhall meetings, the first having been conducted in a pizza
parlor with fair success. Republicans, presumably conservatives,
are borrowing Barack Obama's former campaign strategy of
listening to people directly express their needs and concerns.
Republicans seem to be modifying the message of hope and
change to fit the philosophy of the Republican Party and the
U.S. Constitution, while at the same time avoiding nostalgia for
and obsession with a Republican golden past.
Republicans appear to fall within the mid-life to senior-citizen
range. Some liberal, presumably Democrat, news commentators
have ridiculed these Republicans on the basis of age. It is as
though because they are old, or longtime members of the
Republican Party, they must be incapable of relating to the
younger generation, evaluating current events objectively,
finding solutions to problems, and developing a new Republican
Party. Only fresh young faces can infuse relevance into and
update a Republican platform for the 2012 presidential election.
Moreover, Republicans are regarded as unable to attract these
young faces to an aging Party membership.
There is also a
hardcore liberal tendency to identify Republicans with
traditional religious values, particularly with the teachings of
the so-called religious right. These teachings revolve around
abortion, gender issues, U.S. relations with Israel, and the war
on terror. Hardcore liberals also seem to connect traditional
cultural and religious values with oppression and racism, even
though history and theology do not totally support this view.
Why do some
Democrats have such a haughty attitude toward the Republican
listening tour, especially since the tour is still in its
infancy? This reaction is possibly rooted in anxiety. It is
likely these Democrats are worried that traditional
conservatives--not the country club types, not the corporate types,
and not exclusively the organized Protestant types--will find a
way to promote an inclusive and compassionate Republican Party
that embodies the values and addresses the plight of everyday
Americans. If hardcore liberal politicians and media are an
elitist group, then they might not survive a true grassroots
movement of diverse, hardworking, conservative and patriotic
conservatives and liberals are making some big mistakes,
including self-defeating mistakes which could have the unintended
effect of cancelling out each other's efforts. For example, it
is not nice to poke fun at Republicans just because they are old.
This kind of humor is cruel, immature, and hypocritical. Let us
remember that all of President Obama's cabinet members fall
within the mid-life to senior-citizen range. Only Obama himself
is comparatively young as President.
Democrats seem to think if you are old, then you are a
fuddy-duddy mired in outdated notions and incapable of leadership.
If you are young, then you are cool and your approval of
an idea is proof of that idea's significance and vitality. What
would happen if Ted Kennedy (77), John Kerry (65), Chris Dodd
(65), Harry Reid (69), Nancy Pelosi (69), Charles Rangel (78),
John Murtha (76), Hillary Clinton (61), and Joe Biden (66) went
on a listening tour? Nobody would laugh. Democrats would
probably feel honored to be in the presence of such esteemed
A few radical
liberals are even hinting that the Republican Party cannot defend
its continued existence as a political force or option. It is
regarded as a relic of the past, as something that has already
self-extinguished due to its irrelevance and corruption. If
radicals can annihilate the Republican Party in the psyche of
average Americans, then they can institute a one-party system of
government. In other words, totalitarianism.
Republican listening tour might be sincere and necessary,
Republicans seem to lack wisdom or savvy in figuring out why
and how Obama's message of hope and change won him the election.
It was not a simple matter of listening to and reflecting
people's concerns. There were other more essential factors that
propelled Obama's campaign.
What the Republicans Fail to Understand
- The underlying psychopathological dynamics of an influential
segment of the Democratic Party: (1) Intense hatred of George W.
Bush as a means of unification and mobilization, (2) Denial of the
intent and extent of terrorism as a way to avoid harsh reality.
- The messianic tone of Obama's speeches and website images,
giving the campaign an aura of righteous purpose.
- The role of narcissistic charm in attracting followers and
maintaining images of youthful vitality and competence.
- The role of celebrity and celebrity-like status in giving
credence to political messages.
- Politics as entertainment.
- Media news reports slanted in favor of Obama.
- Media stereotyping of Republicans as oppressive and racist.
think they can win the minds and hearts of Americans by
imitating the Democrats, then they must look back at the failure
of John McCain to win the presidency. McCain was a liberal on
illegal immigration. McCain rejected the support of Pastor
John Hagee, a leader of the religious right. McCain was not
wholeheartedly pro-life and he supported embryonic stem-cell
research. McCain chose a female running-mate. The only
standard conservative tendency apparent in McCain's campaign was
his strong commitment to securing victory in Iraq. Still, he
lost. McCain was also old--but so was the beloved Pope John Paul
II (84), and so are many elected Democrats, and so are Barbra
Steissand (67) and Bruce Springsteen (59)!
Republicans seemed to compromise the basic concept of
conservatism in order to appear relevant and to reach more people
(or to get more votes and remain in power). Perhaps this was an
understandable reaction to the media's negative stereotyping of
conservatives, or perhaps it was due to a loss of identity in a
post-9/11 world and because of the very unpopular Iraq War.
There seemed to be more varieties of conservatism than
liberalism, perhaps reflecting the complexity of the nation's
problems as well as the pull of political correctness.
If the listening
tours are to succeed, if Republicans are to win the presidency
in 2012 and reclaim seats in the Congress and Senate, then they
must accomplish the following tasks.
What the Republicans Need to Do
- Answer questions about and offer viable solutions to
America's sensitive social and cultural problems. Republicans
must do this in a motivational way, validating people's
struggles and rights while also upholding certain standards,
limits, and responsibilities.
- If Obama's bailout and taxation policies fail, then
Republicans must offer well-defined alternatives for rebuilding
the nation's economy.
- If Obama's management of the war on terror fails, then
Republicans must expose his errors and hold him accountable.
- Never hesitate to critique Obama's presidency, challenge his
apologies, and affirm the greatness of America (i.e., do not be
intimidated by political correctness, and be fully prepared to
respond to accusations of racism).
- Recognize the changing demographics of America, reach out to
diverse population groups, and break the conservative
- Affirm the positive contributions of Christianity and
Western Civilization to American government and culture, while
protecting the religious liberties of all legitimate faiths and
the civil rights of all citizens.
- Condemn political and religious censorship and oppose
enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine.
- Affirm the benefits of capitalism: cooperative partnerships,
excellence through competition, the personal accumulation of
money as a way to maintain societal stability and national
prosperity, and the potential of the poor to achieve upward
- Affirm the right of the middle class to maintain their status
or to accumulate more money; and to donate money, goods, or
services in accordance with their own conscience or religious
- Expose the Democrats' funding sources and tactics.
- Bring a halt to illegal immigration. Do this as a matter of
national sovereignty and in order to focus on and solve the
current legal and social problems revolving around illegal
immigration. Republicans must be fully prepared to answer to
accusations of racism by showing how their solutions will procure
safety, respect for law as well as humanitarian values, and a
bright future for America's children.
- Place a priority on addressing extreme family and community
issues: the trafficking of women and children, the trafficking of
illegal and addictive substances, child pornography, domestic
violence, child abuse, and gang violence.
- Recognize the benefits of and support alcohol and drug
treatment programs. Make America a sober nation.
- Support programs for America's veterans.
- Become internet savvy and utilize the internet in every
- Use the listening tours as an opportunity to provide
citizens with mini-lessons on history and the U.S. Constitution.
Provide instruction that will empower average people as well as
explain Republican philosophy and policies.
- Do not try to be cool. Be genuine. Be adults. Be
always remember that hardcore liberals are anxious: (1) Anxious
that the Obama presidency will fail, (2) Anxious that America will
suffer another terrorist attack, (3) Anxious that they cannot
remain in power without giving citizenship and the right to vote
to illegal immigrants (i.e., they need more human minds to
indoctrinate and more human bodies to create electoral districts in
order for hardcore liberalism to dominate American culture), (4)
Anxious that that they cannot maintain a middle-class following
without toxic injections of guilt and shame, (5) Anxious that
average Americans of all backgrounds will find true hope--not a
disguised enabling of hatred and denial--but real hope in the new
Liberals attempt to
escape their anxiety by becoming increasingly radical, narrow, and
rigid--a tendency that might eventually alienate moderate Democrats.
If Republicans can regain, clarify or redefine, create anew and
appropriately apply their conservative vision of America, then
wisdom can overcome hatred and denial.
Until we meet