Aaron Regunberg: The GOP is a Flawed Product

Friday, November 09, 2012


Want to know why the GOP fared so poorly on Tuesday? Check out Donna Perry's GoLocalProv piece yesterday, in which she tries to piece together the election fallout in a way that doesn’t completely devastate her own worldview. Perry’s argument can be boiled down to her final sentence: “Make no mistake about it, the state GOP, like its national Party, leaves 2012 not just wounded, but a severely damaged ‘brand.’ It’s not that the product is faulty. The problem lies with the consumer, so frighteningly and easily fooled by the competition’s distorted sales pitch.”

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That’s right, American people. That’s right, Rhode Islanders. According to Perry, the majority of you are frighteningly foolish, and it’s your foolishness that caused Republicans to lose.

Perry’s argument paints a picture of Rhode Islanders and Americans as children. We are incapable of making informed decisions for ourselves based on how we think policies will affect our lives and our communities. Old people fell for scare tactics. Women, the idiots, paid attention to the GOP’s war on women. And folks in the inner city? Well, they just wanted a snack, according to Perry, who wrote: “It’s too simplistic and blatantly unfair to start hurling charges at the state GOP for across the board losses when they do battle in a state where the Board of Elections sees no harm in the fact that ‘free pizza’ was allowed to be delivered to a crowded and chaotic inner city polling place by the campaign of David Cicilline Tuesday night.” It sounds a whole lot like Ms. Perry is saying low-income people and people of color, who were the majority of those who voted at the Juanita Sanchez poll on Tuesday, can’t make choices based on higher-order thinking.

Well you know what, Ms. Perry? They can. That’s why so many voters in that precinct were willing to put up with record delays, waiting hours and hours and hours in order to send a message to the GOP that no, they don’t support slashing social services and funding for public education so that millionaires and billionaires can have even fatter tax cuts, and no, they don’t support xenophobia or “self-deportation,” as Mr. Romney put it. (And by the way, if you want to start appealing to Latino voters, Ms. Perry, you’re going to have to do better than, “A responsible but realistic plan for handling the influx of illegals must also be developed and better communicated.” Latinos understand the power of words as well as you do, and many of them find it offensive when segments of their community are referred to in dehumanizing terms.)

You know who else can make their own informed decisions? Women. When they came out in overwhelming numbers to fight back against the GOP’s war on women, they were not doing so because of a bad sales pitch. Sure, Akin and Mourdock’s comments on rape were straight-up insane, but they were a relatively accurate reflection of the GOP’s national platform, which makes no exception for abortion in the case of rape, and the GOP’s national ticket, which included a vice presidential nominee who co-sponsored legislation with Akin redefining rape as “forcible” rape. If your product is giving old white men power over the bodies of American women, and the majority of women aren’t buying it, the problem is not in the branding. The problem is that your product is steeped in misogyny and would fit better in the 19th century.

Perry’s argument that the fault for Tuesday’s election results lies not with the failed conservative policies of the GOP but the frightening foolishness of the American public and Rhode Islanders in particular is not just arrogant and condescending in and of itself—it is also a microcosm of the arrogance and condescension that spelled doom for the Republican Party this week. Take Mitt Romney’s continuing dishonesty throughout the campaign. He banked on the American electorate being too apathetic to care about his secret finances, too stupid to discern that his budget proposals simply did not add up, too uninformed to call him out on absurd falsehoods like “Jeep is shipping jobs to China” or “Obama is dismantling welfare reform.” The results of the election proved that this cynical view of the American public was wrong.

So to the 60+ million Americans who voted for Obama; to the 255,000 Rhode Islanders who voted for progressive champion Sheldon Whitehouse, and the 102,000 1st District Rhode Islanders who voted for Cicilline, and the 135,000 Rhode Islanders in the 2nd District who voted for Langevin or the more-progressive Independent, Abe Collins, and the many thousands of Rhode Islanders who voted to further decimate the Republican State House caucus, I have one message for you: don’t sweat Donna Perry. You’re not fools, and just because a lot of conservatives will probably spend the next couple weeks explaining to you why you’re so dumb and wrong doesn’t make it so.

Rest assured, it is not you that’s faulty. It is the GOP’s product, and until Republicans get their heads around this basic fact, they’re going to keep losing elections.


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