Today's Topic



Older But Not Wiser

Natalia J. Garland

Print Version

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.

Most prominent 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 Americans.

However, both 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.

Nevertheless, some 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 Party members.

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.

Although the 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.


If Republicans 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)!

In 2008, 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 stereotype.
  • 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 mobility.
  • 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 beliefs.
  • 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 appropriate way.
  • 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 smart.


Republicans must 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 Republican Party.

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. (Written 05/07/09)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

Find More Topics in the Table of Contents

Return to Homepage


Copyright 2009 Natalia J. Garland