I thought I would start by listing a group of ideas that are held by the majority of educated Americans. If after you read them you think that no, these are “liberal” ideas, think again. In fact, if you were a Nixon voter, you probably agreed to all of them but the one on climate change, which was unknown at the time. In fact, these are not political ideas at all.
Noah’s Ark is just a fable
Evolution is the founding principal of modern biology (and so modern medicine).
The science is strong that the burning of fossil fuels has started climate change.
Tax rate changes within a narrow range have little to do with the rate of growth in our economy.
Cutting tax rates does not pay for itself through growth.
Gasoline prices are set on the world market and will not be influenced significantly by US oil production.
The free market leads to the fairest price. It does nothing else.
And I said educated Americans. That eliminates a significant part of today’s Republican voter base. (Yes I mean that!) If you look at HS and college graduation rates, you will see that the red states are generally behind the blue states in education, especially college graduation. So if you are a poorly educated voter, gullible, ready for simple solutions, you probably vote Republican. (If you really don’t know the down-market voter, I suggest you listen to a call-in segment on any right wing talk radio show.)
Since the first of the year, there have been a number of news stories about some Republicans wanting to sound less idiotic to the average educated voter. Other Republican are in denial. For those not in denial, we all remember the deer-in-the-headlights posture of folks from Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann to Herman Cain. We also tittered over idiotic comments about rape from a few others. So after it sinks in, Yes, The Republican Party Is The Party of Stupid.
Can they change?
I doubt it. Republicans have trapped themselves in an alternate universe. For example – here is Lindsey Graham flip-flopping on climate change: "The science about global warming has changed. I think they've oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they've been alarmist and the science is in question. The whole movement has taken a giant step backward." Lindsey is not a fool. He was reacting to his voters – they have been lied to and voted based on the lie, so if Lindsey admitted the truth, his voters’ world would come crashing down. Once you create an alternate universe, as Republicans have, its like a time warp. You may not be able to get back.
Republican have spent decades building up alternative think tanks to craft talking points to debunk the liberal point of view. They deemed as “liberal” anything that might suggest that we need government or taxes. Then came right wing media. Freed up when the Fairness Doctrine was ended (please Google if you are too young to remember this broadcasting rule)– right wing media emerged from the swamp to push easy ideas to gullible listeners. Together, using lock step party discipline, the political right gained power, pushed opinion to the right (though not quite as far as they had hoped) and the alternate universe of right wing political thought was created.
Having built their universe and pushed moderates out of power, they are stuck at the far right corner where only the few (voters) remain – these voters are older, whiter, more southern. If they reverse course now, they will lose their base – much as Democrats lost their base after the passage of the 1964 civil rights bill. And few politicians want to abandon their voters. President Johnson knew what he was doing when he pushed for civil rights – his was an intentional deed of great courage, one likely not to be repeated.
And if Republicans reversed course, where would they return to? Their former base was in the Northeast and Midwest among small town bankers, farmers and merchants. These folks still exist, but in smaller numbers now. Small towns with their Main Streets have been made irrelevant in the era of big-box highway stores, often grouped in malls. Local banks which lent to small business have been pushed aside by international banks that care far more about floating a new issue of corporate debt than in helping build up main street. The new Republican base is corporate America. Corporations can’t vote, but they can give money to candidates and it is the money the candidates are after. Policies follow the money. If it was Main Street that Republicans were really after, they would join democrats is passing more stimulus, and the stimulus would NOT be tax cuts, it would be spending. Instead they favor tax cuts on corporate income that will benefit their corporate sponsors. These cuts might increase GDP slightly, but if we have learned nothing else in the past 30 years, we should have learned the GDP growth has little correlation to prosperity for the average guy (be he a workingman or a small town store owner).
By the way, Democrats are not blameless. Blowhards like Bill Clinton pushed globalization (when what we really needed was trade policy) and the workingman lost. But at least Democrats will pay for food stamps and unemployment benefits when it all comes crashing down.
By the way, there are liberal/lefty ideas out there. For example, if you are a committed feminist of the old school who believes that sex difference are purely a construct (hence the use of gender rather than sex) that is a lefty idea. If you cannot tolerate any police searches - such as what is going in in NYC in apartments in high crime areas - that too is a lefty idea. If you are confronted with poor performance of minorities and insist it is only about money (no culture at all?) and the money is the answer, well that too is lefty. The anarchist anti global folks are lefty too.
But guns? Birth control? Science? Nope - those are not liberal/left.