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June, 2009

How to Save the GOP

There are people out there that speculate that the postmodernism era is over and we’re now living in the information age. Of course these people are wrong. The present glut of information is part of postmodernism. No longer do we have to rely on limited sources to get the scoop. This has resulted in the decline of schools of thought that depend on keeping their adherents ignorant. Like religion, the GOP has suffered when its members are exposed to alternative viewpoints. There will always be a few holdouts that will bury their heads in the sand and remain willfully ignorant but their numbers are dwindling. When the republicans claim America has the best health care system in the world or that global warming isn’t happening they have to assume that the people they are addressing won’t bother to look up the facts.

The internet has made it too easy to become informed. Fewer and fewer people are unable to distinguish between legitimate sources and quacks. Sure some will still only seek out information that confirms their biases but to find it they will have to scroll past all the more reputable search results. So far the GOP has had a measure of success by trying to discredit all objective sources of information as having a liberal bias. But how long can you keep assuming that people will believe AM talk radio is more trustworthy on issues like science than actual scientists. It’s not particularly hard to differentiate between facts and fiction. There will always be intellectually lazy people but even the intellectually lazy can find information today without putting forth much effort.

It’s amazing that the right-wing propaganda machine has managed to convince so many people that they can’t trust network news or daily newspapers. Notice how so many of the right-wing pundits are afraid of the reintroduction of the fairness doctrine. Putting aside the fact that it’s not going to happen the fear of it only exposes the nonsensical nature of right-wing rhetoric. If the media really does have a liberal bias these people should welcome the fairness doctrine. According to their rhetoric it would force the major media outlets to finally present some conservative views. By opposing the fairness doctrine the right-wing is pretty much admitting their bias. It’s amazing that when Sean Hannity, dressed like a newscaster, reads the news on a news network and concludes by saying, “and that’s the news,” it’s still not considered news. How have so many people been convinced that if a news source is so obviously biased to the right and is filled with half-truths and outright lies it’s not really news? And if it’s not really news, but rather entertainment, why should it be subjected to the fairness doctrine?

The Republican Party has been a house of cards for some time. This bizarre amalgamation of libertarians and authoritarian theocrats never made much sense. The only thing that units the party is a fear of people that are different. But there is a way to save the GOP. America seems stuck with a two party system. Every couple of decades they have to reinvent themselves and now it’s time for the republicans to do a bit of soul searching.

The first thing they need to do is muffle the crazies. Stop talking about torture as a good thing. It’s political suicide. Does anyone honestly believe that there is a future for the pro-torture lobby? The GOP also has to back away from religious nutcases. People that believe in witchcraft and don’t believe in evolution have no place in polite society. If you want to be the party of Jesus they need to go with Joel Olsteen and Rick Warren, not James Dobson and Pat Robertson. Marginalize the anti-intellectual nutcases like Sarah Palin and Glen Beck and start rallying around people like Condoleeza Rice, John McCain and Colin Powell, all of whom believe in evolution and global warming. Finally, actually embrace libertarian ideas instead of just giving them lip service. You can’t pretend to believe in freedom but want to outlaw abortion and deny full citizenship to homosexuals. You can’t champion free trade and want to build a fence between the US and Mexico. If the republicans want to win back power anytime soon they need to push for the end of prohibition. The democrats seem to be the party one would assume would be for legalizing drugs but that’s not happening. If the GOP started to look more like the party of Ron Paul and less like the party of Ann Coulter they would have a chance for a rebound.

© 2009 The Birmingham Free Press