Like a lot of people, I listened to Rush Limbaugh the day after the election. Pure Schadenfreude, I admit it; I just wanted to hear the reaction. I searched the right-wing media landscape far and wide and tried to find even a hint of self-examination, self-criticism, and I didn't find much. Then again, they didn't lose the presidential vote by much, so they didn't take the election result as a total repudiation of their belief system, as they probably shouldn't have, anyway.
But some introspection was probably in order, particularly with the question – soon to become the dominant question in American major party-politics – of what the Republicans have to do to do better with women and minorities. They dominated with white males, but lagged with almost all other groups.
Rush addressed the question with a long, passionate soliloquy. It was fascinating. Let me excerpt it here. He began with the difficult (for him) admission that his party is not doing well with minority groups. The emphasis here is mine:
It's being said once once again that the Republicans have an outreach problem, that we don't have Hispanics, we don't have blacks, and we don't have women and it's... Okay, fine, we don't, what are we supposed to do?
From there he self-apostrophizes, asking what the Republicans need to do to get those votes. He answers the question in a mocking tone that in fact is the entire source of his problem – the very answer to his question is drop the freaking sarcasm when you talk about minorities and minority issues, and you just might get their votes – but he's so psychologically well-defended that this never occurs to him, and he just plows on. Note the excellent homage here to the "Get the fuck out of here/No, I'm serious!" routine from Beverly Hills Cop:
Are we supposed to embrace amnesty? No, no, no, I'm being serious! We have achieved [sic], brilliant, intelligent, accomplished African Americans, Hispanics, you name it – throughout the Republican party. It doesn't count! It doesn't count with the media, it doesn't count with the Democratic party, it doesn't count with Obama supporters.
Here he pauses, then goes on some more, wondering, hilariously, why it isn't enough just to have Condi Rice in the tent. Again, the emphasis is mine:
It doesn't count. Why not? Why, putting it coarsely, doesn't the Republican Party get credit for Condoleeza Rice? Why doesn't the Republican Party get credit for Marco Rubio? Why doesn't the Republican Party get credit for Suzanne Martinez...?
I could throw these examples out there for you all afternoon. Why don't those people, the Marco Rubios, the Alan Wests... What a great man, what a great American, what a great role model! Clarence Thomas! Herman Cain! None of it counts. Tell me the Republican party doesn't have outreach – we do!
But what are supposed to do, in order to get the Hispanic vote now? Does that mean, open the borders and embrace the illegals? I want you to think about this. So – the Republican establishment, does that mean, if we're not getting the female vote, do we become pro-choice? Do we have to start giving out birth control pills? Is that what we have to do?
This next part is awesome. He again asks the "isn't it enough to have Condoleeza Rice" question, and here even supplies an answer – it should be enough, because, get this: she's not just black and a woman, she's WELL-SPOKEN! He actually plays the "well-spoken" card:
Okay, if that's what we have to do, pretend we're doing it. Pretend that in the next couple of weeks, couple of months, the Republican Party announces that it is for contraception being given out by the state, and in fact the Catholic Church must give contraception away and make abortion available. Are we going to get the votes Obama got last night. We're not? Really, we're not?
We won't. But we're not getting the votes that Obama got last night because we have Condoleeza Rice – and she is a pinnacle of achievement, and intelligent, and well-spoken . . . You can't find a more accomplished person. Marco Rubio. And really, speaking in street lingo, we're not getting credit for it. Now is it that Republicans are looking for credit? And it's not perceived as genuine? Are these people perceived as tokens?
The fish is swimming with the line way out to sea at this point . . . Just let him run, he's tiring himself out:
And the white Republican establishment is putting these people out front, but they really don't believe that Marco Rubio is that good of a deal. Window dressing! If that's the perception of Obama voters, than how do we change that?
And he concludes here by offering mock suggestions for how to win back the votes lost in such huge numbers Tuesday night among almost all groups but white men:
Youth, the youth vote! I tell you what we should do, let's announce, starting around Christmastime, so that we can get close to being Santa Claus ourselves, let's announce that we are for the legalization of marijuana, and that as a party we're in favor of forgiving all student loans . . . Is that how we do it?
All these examples . . . Latinos! We're not going to get the Latino vote by opening the borders and saying, you know what? Let anybody in who wants to come in.
Women. Let's start our own abortion industry. Let's go out and get the women's vote. I just want you to think, would that work?
There's been a lot of hand-wringing among conservatives of the Rush/Hannity school in the last few days, a lot of concern about this outreach question, and honestly, the tone of the discussion is beginning to sound like the last days of a failed 1950s marriage. The husband who's gone all day at work comes home and throws his hands up in the air in mock frustration: what do you want from me, another Cadillac? Another fur coat? I just got you new shoes last week!
And the wife, who's loved this man for 20 years despite his abject stupidity, just sighs. All she wants her husband to do is listen to her, or take a day off work sometime and take her for a drive in the country, or make some spontaneous show of affection, maybe popping home for lunch like in the old days – just some evidence that he's even faintly aware of what's going on in her head. But when they try to talk it out, things just get worse, because in his very manner of asking her what's wrong, all hubby does is reveal that he thinks of his wife entirely as a nagging, financial parasite who's always on his ass about something.
Similarly, the fact that so many Republicans this week think that all Hispanics care about is amnesty, all women want is abortions (and lots of them) and all teenagers want is to sit on their couches and smoke tons of weed legally, that tells you everything you need to know about the hopeless, anachronistic cluelessness of the modern Republican Party. A lot of these people, believe it or not, would respond positively, or at least with genuine curiosity, to the traditional conservative message of self-reliance and fiscal responsibility.
But modern Republicans will never be able to spread that message effectively, because they have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they're surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab. Their whole belief system, which is really an endless effort at congratulating themselves for how hard they work compared to everyone else (by the way, the average "illegal," as Rush calls them, does more real work in 24 hours than people like Rush and me do in a year), is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can't win votes when you're calling people lazy, stoned moochers.
It's hard to say whether it's good or bad that the Rushes of the world are too clueless to realize that it's their attitude, not their policies, that is screwing them most with minority voters. If they were self-aware at all, Mitt Romney would probably be president right now. So I guess we should be grateful that the light doesn't look like it will ever go on. But wow, is their angst tough to listen to.