Friday, October 26, 2012

The GOP and Mitt

I recently read an interview with Gloria Steinem, and while talking about the partisanship shown over the Lilly Ledbetter Act, she made some interesting assertions about the Republican party:

So I always feel like I have to apologize to my friends who are Republicans because they've basically lost their party. Ronald Reagan couldn't get nominated today because he was supportive of immigrant rights. Barry Goldwater was pro-choice. George H.W. Bush supported Planned Parenthood. No previous Republican except for George W. Bush would be acceptable to the people who now run the GOP. They are not Republicans. They are the American version of the Taliban.
Maybe that seems a bit over the top, but she goes on to talk about what the interviewer refers to as "a marriage of convenience with the religious right and powerful moneyed interests":

Like the Koch brothers. They've taken over one of the two great parties. This causes people to wrongly think that the country is equally divided but if we look at public opinion polls, it isn't. So, I can't think of anything more crucial than real Republicans taking back the GOP. [...] I think feminists and progressive Democrats err when they say to Republican women, "How can you be a Republican?" Nobody responds to that. But if you say "Look, you didn't leave your party. The party left you. Let's just look at the issues and see what they are and forget about party labels and vote for ourselves." I think people would really respond.
This isn't a new idea. There were Republicans (and/or former Republicans) saying the same thing back at least as far as the Dubya administration. I suspect that John McCain was a willing victim of this, because the McCain who ran in 2008 seemed to have moved quite a bit further to the right than the guy who ran in 2000. A lot of independents and even some Democrats liked the 2000-era McCain, but he was a different guy 8 years later. It seems like he ran as his real self in 2000 and jettisoned quite a bit of his principles in order to follow the Bush model for getting elected.

I'm trying to decide if Mitt Romney isn't going down the same road. Everybody knows how far he's moved politically from the time he was governor of Massachusetts 'til now (at least I hope they do). He's "flip-flopped" more than John Kerry ever did. But with Romney, I have to wonder if it wasn't so much that he changed his values to win over the Republican base as that he never had strong political convictions in the first place. Was he more moderate from 2003-2007 because that's what he believed or because that's what he needed to appear to believe in order to be elected as a Republican in Massachusetts? Considering the shameless pandering and Etch-a-Sketch campaign he's run, it seems more likely to believe that he'll simply say anything in order to be elected.

The crazy thing, the awful thing, is that it just might work. All this seems so self-evident, but he's running even with Obama. Does that say something important about Obama? Does that say something important about our country?