What's next for Republicans?
Mitt Romney will be fine. But what is to become of the Republican Party? If politics is a game of inclusion, the Republicans' campaign strategy of throwing folks overboard if they do not like who they are or what they stand for will keep the party in the backwaters of American society.
Nonwhite voters, a minority no longer since they have combined forces to re-elect a president, heard the Republican message loud and clear. When Romney said that government should make the lives of illegal immigrant workers so miserable that they would self-deport, Latino voters waited in line for hours and over 70 percent of them voted for President Obama.
Women and the men who care about them — husbands, fathers, sons — realized where they stood when Romney vowed to defund Planned Parenthood if elected. Beyond the great pro-life/pro-choice debate, Republicans sent a message that a cabal of white men in Washington are more qualified to direct women's health-care choices than women themselves.
When Romney refused to recognize same-sex civil marriage, he dashed the hopes of millions of gay Americans and their friends and families. Romney tenaciously swam against the tide. On the same night he was defeated, the voters of Maine and Maryland approved gay marriage for their states.
The working class was targeted for fear-mongering campaign ads, nowhere more extreme than in Ohio. A Romney ad that intimated that Chrysler was going to send cherished Jeep production jobs from Ohio to China was denounced by two CEOs as untrue. But Romney doubled down.
It was all summed up in the secretly filmed country-club speech in which an unguarded Romney claimed that 47 percent of Americans are slackers, living off government programs, unable or unwilling to provide for themselves.
There is something noble about sticking to your beliefs, spurning compromise. But in politics that usually makes you a loser. The extreme forces that are holding the Republican Party hostage have no room in their boat for anyone who thinks or looks differently than they do.
The nation needs the Republican Party of old, true to its values but willing to compromise for the common good — not this current version that is rooted in intolerance. America was founded on shared virtues that can remain intact without disrespecting the differences of its citizens, without insulting them directly or insulting their intelligence.
Paraphrasing Republican President Abraham Lincoln: You can insult some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not insult all of the people all of the time.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (SabinoMistick@aol.com).
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