Too Late Smart

The envelope arrived Tuesday. The dreaded envelope, the one I knew was coming and containing the invitation to join AARP. It hasn’t happened yet but yes, I will soon turn 50.

Like KFC, AARP is now just a set of initials. The initials used to stand for American Association of Retired Persons, but in 1999 became just another ubiquitous brand. I don’t think I’ll join. The temptation to pull the membership card out of my wallet at the movie ticket window would be great, as would be the ensuing embarrassment.

I handed the envelope to Adrienne. “Go ahead, have your fun. I waved yours around when it came.” (I won’t say when.)

“No,” she said, “I’m going to be the bigger person. It’s not hard.” Ouch.

As I lapse into geezerhood, should I start voting Republican? There’s a case to be made, because as I look at the Republican Party today – despite the stunning gains of last November – the word that comes to mind is “sclerotic.”

Fresh off its Pyrrhic victory in the WisKochsin collective bargaining debacle (one that may yet be struck down by the courts), the GOP has already bled out much of the support it picked up last year.

Fallout from that one will be short-lived. Let’s look at the longer-term trends for the GOP.

Latinos. As the 2010 census shows, the Latino population of the US is growing. Latinos should be natural Republicans: culturally conservative, religious, they come to the US primarily for economic reasons – they want to make money.

Republicans, however, taking orders from corporate America and playing to a base of crazy old white bigots consistently pounds on xenophobic immigration legislation guaranteed to keep Latinos in the Democratic camp for 20 years after the final dust settles and it looks like the dust won’t settle for another decade. Ronald Reagan was a Democrat for 20 years because he credited Democrats for helping his father find work in the Depression. Then he got old and became a Republican.

The party once foolish enough to call itself the “permanent majority” is willfully discounting the support of the fastest growing ethnic demographic.

Same Sex Marriage. Same-sex marriage is (hooray!) legal in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, the District of Columbia and in the Coquille Nation of Oregon. It will soon spread to every corner of the nation because people – even people like Dick Cheney – have realized a) same sex marriage does not bring the end of civilization nor harm heterosexual marriage and b) people in their families or their communities, people they like and respect deserve the same rights they do. The Republican Party, however, will stay on the wrong side of this issue until it’s way too late, because Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and the other bigots demand it.

Repression. Like any political dinosaur thrashing in the tar pits of history (Hello, Muammar Gaddafi!) the GOP is lashing out in blind attempts to hang onto its power. The Washington Post reported Sunday on Republican efforts to take voting rights away from groups that traditionally vote for Democrats – the poor, the dark-skinned and the young.

The GOP speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, William O’Brien, wants to deprive students of the right to vote where they attend college. He says they are “foolish.” “Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” he said as a Democrat taped him for YouTube.

“There’s no doubt that this bill would help Republican causes,” said Richard Sunderland III, head of the College Republicans at Dartmouth College. But, he added, “this doesn’t help if the Republican Party wants to try to win over people in the 18-to-24 age range.”

Wisconsin, immigration, same-sex marriage, disenfranchisement – the Republican strategy on each is brutal and shortsighted. It’s no way to build a strong future party in a democracy. Unless you’re not planning on a democratic future.

© Mark Floegel, 2011

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *