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What's next for Republicans?

| Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, 8:50 p.m.

Now what, regarding the election, regarding the Republican Party?

Let's start with some facts.

First, the Republican Party isn't dead, demographically or ideologically.

A little knowledge of political history shows it's not unusual for political parties to be declared dead, erroneously.

Pundits declared the Republican Party dead in 1964 after Barry Goldwater lost 44 states. Just two presidential elections later, the Democratic Party was declared dead in 1972 after George McGovern lost 49 states.

Parties have a knack for resurrecting themselves.

Columnist George Will's advice for the Republican Party is to find a “more likable” candidate and one “who tilts toward the libertarian side of the Republican Party's fusion of social and laissez-faire conservatism.”

Laissez-faire, from the French, translates to “allow to do.” It's a theory of government that upholds the concept of a limited state, the belief that government should interfere as little as possible in directing and managing the economic order.

Applied to social issues, the laissez-faire principle upholds the same concept of limited government, the belief that the state should interfere as little as possible in directing and regulating personal conduct.

The call for a Republican Party that “tilts toward the libertarian side” is an appeal for a stance that is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, unswerving in its advocacy of self-rule and personal freedom.

For two gay guys who own a tackle shop, that means the government shouldn't be picking the type of minnows they're allowed to sell and shouldn't be picking the kind of person they're allowed to marry.

It means a sidewalk vendor in New York should be allowed to sell 32-ounce soft drinks and a customer should be allowed to decide if he's too out of shape to buy one.

It means the government shouldn't be overtaxing a successful woman who has made all right decisions in a business and shouldn't be forbidding her from making a decision about receiving an elevated dose of estrogen after a rape in order to prevent a pregnancy.

Asked in a campaign interview his view on whether women who became pregnant due to rape should have the option of abortion, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, replied: “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The “legitimate” part sounds like the old dunking stool way of deciding things. Alleged witches were tied to chairs at the end of boards and repeatedly dunked in a river or pond. Those who didn't die from drowning were deemed guilty and trotted off to be burned alive. Those who drowned were deemed innocent, but dead.

From the idea that a “shut that whole thing down” process generally kicks in after a “legitimate” rape, it's only a short step to seeing a rape victim as a likely liar if she becomes pregnant.

And the election? “The 20-point gender gap is the largest Gallup has measured in a presidential election since it began compiling the vote by major subgroups in 1952,” reported Gallup.

Journalist and former congressional aide Brent Budowsky states the obvious: “When voters are demeaned, ridiculed and insulted, they tend to vote in larger numbers than expected against those who demean, ridicule and insult them.”

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (rrreiland@aol.com).

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