“Now put your hands up, up in the club…” if you voted against Mitt Romney because of the frightfully conservative ideals that have enveloped and ultimately consumed the Republican party, and spit out in its place some monster party that generates repeatedly ignorant statements on women’s health issues, immigration reform and LGBT issues. Now let me put an opinion on it.
Even though I have lady hormones that cause me to have lots of feelings all the time, I’m well aware that there is a broad range of political issues to consider, beyond said social gripes. I agree with Nicholas Kristof, who said in a recent column that the phrase “war on women” should be reserved for violent policies of rape or rampant denial of girls’ education committed globally against women.
However, Romney represented a set of Republican ideals that threaten the repeal of already-won rights for women. He also championed an immigration policy that would further separate families and deprive undocumented youth of educational opportunities (I admit Obama is far from perfect in this regard). Finally, Romney signed the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge last year, promising to defend DOMA and create a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, amongst other things. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were also quick to sign that pledge.
Romney represented the refusal to respect the changing face of the nation.
Represented, past tense. And now he has lost the election. Still, the ideals he promoted as a temporary figurehead live on in the Republican Party.
There is certainly room and reason for difference between political parties. But when that difference is so alienating to large demographics that they blatantly avoid your political party, it seems a matter of smart politics to change.
The majority within the following groups quite clearly avoided voting for a Republican president on Tuesday: women favored Obama by 11 percentage points; more drastically, single women favored Obama by 36 percentage points; Latinos favored Obama by 44 percentage points; African-Americans favored Obama by 87 percentage points. Finally, those who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual* favored Obama by 54 percentage points.
Leading up to Election Day, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham mused about a potential Romney loss, “If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”
Maybe both political parties need some more real-talk sessions.
Some Republicans are more than willing to call out forms of extremism in their party. And that is important. I am not condemning an entire political party, knowing that the Democrats have their fair share of flaws. Listen, I even have a Republican friend… wait, he said I could use that word, is it still okay?
In all seriousness, politicians who dedicate themselves to public service in both parties inspire me. My family is comprised of Republicans who have served their communities to the best of their abilities. Republicans are, you know, people: mothers and brothers and sisters and step-brothers-in-law and great aunts and that-family-member-who-just-keeps-showing-up.
But my family is also made of the type of Republicans that love me and all of my gayness, believe in pro-choice politics, believe in reasonable immigration reform. And that just doesn’t seem common on the national Republican stage. Here’s a less-than-bold statement: that is decidedly not common on the national Republican stage.
The election is over, and we will move on to work together. That is how the narrative goes, and that is the narrative I want to believe. But as of now, Republican politics are an unwelcome place for the majority of female, non-white, and queer people, according to the exit polls. And here’s the thing: they vote. In fact, they just voted some guy into office yesterday.
What will it take for more moderate voices to take hold in the Republican Party, and respect the demographic shifts of the nation? That is, to recognize that we’re here, and this country is changing regardless of whom is in charge.
*I used exit poll data from the Fox News website because this information was simple to locate, but they get their exit poll data from a national polling firm that informs a consortium of five major TV networks and the AP. This polling firm deliberately decided not to identify transgender voters, which also shows the media’s contribution to a degree of cultural ignorance.
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