Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Concern Trolling: A Sketch


What might help Republicans’ prospects? Backing individual rights over intrusive government.

(There's a connection with a previous installment)

It's looking more and more doubtful whether Republicans can pull off the traditional anti-incumbent wave in the midterm congressional elections. The FiveThirtyEight website now gives them only a 44% chance of taking the Senate, largely, they say, because of the preposterous candidates they are fielding in states they can't take for granted, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and as of last night Arizona, where they chose yet another Peter Thiel acolyte in the anti-Semitic election denier Blake Masters; Missouri GOP voters seem to have restrained themselves and gone for the lesser of the two Erics, but former moderate Eric Schmitt has promised to "take a blowtorch to the Biden agenda" and is doing his best to seem as wild as Vance or Öz (that's the correct spelling of the name, per Wikipedia, "Mehmet Cengiz Öz, known professionally as Dr. Oz").

The House, where the craziest candidates seem to be defending safe Republican seats, looks much better for them, but even there the outlook is darkening, as the generic poll is starting to show.

Via NBC News.

And there's the money slowdown.

Truth is, the political atmosphere is changing pretty rapidly as the gas price begins falling, and people start recognizing what Biden and the Congress have been up to, from the "Inflation Reduction Act" to the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri—it's nowhere clearer than in the spectacular crash of the Kansas constitutional referendum where the Kansas legislature sought to give itself the right to ban abortion, in the belief that their constituents were so upset about pronouns and "critical race theory" that they wouldn't even notice. 

So what are Republicans to do? At this point it's too late to get rid the dozens of extremist candidates who are threatening their chances, but maybe the party as a whole could do something to become more competitive over the long run, moderate itself in some way to reflect the views of the good, moderate citizens it wants to represent.

In fact, it may surprise you, but I think it's time for Republicans to hark back to the values they themselves espoused in an earlier time, when "conservatives" used to value individual rights over authoritarianism, at least in theory—

Throughout his life, [Senator Barry Goldwater] worked to maintain personal liberty and to limit governmental intrusion into citizens' private lives. Goldwater, influenced by his wife Margaret (Peggy) Goldwater, supported women's rights to abortions. Goldwater's advocacy and support for reproductive rights assisted in the foundation of the Planned Parenthood chapter in Phoenix, Arizona, and for national policies promoting birth control and abortion rights....

In 1956 Goldwater's eldest daughter Joanne became pregnant at the age of twenty. In a later interview, Joanne described how she was in college at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, and not ready to become a mother. Goldwater and his wife supported her decision to have an abortion, though abortions were illegal. Due to his financial security and political connections gained in Washington, D.C., Goldwater arranged an illegal abortion for his daughter in Virginia. 

Actually, it seems, it took Goldwater until 1983 to oppose a constitutional amendment reversing Roe vs. Wade, 1984 to oppose a constitutional amendment to restore school prayer—he himself, half Jewish and raised Episcopalian, seems to have adopted a kind of cowboy-hippie spiritualism

"With the kind of life I have, Peggy and I just usually don't get around to it," he explained last week. "If a man acts in a religious way, an ethical way, then he's really a religious man — and it doesn't have a lot to do with how often he gets inside a church." As for his religious feelings, he mused: "With me it is like old Senator Henry Ashurst of Arizona used to say: 'The saddle is my church, and the trees are my cathedral.' I get a lot of the same feeling from going up the canyons or walking in the desert." 

but previously believed institutionally enforced prayer was good for kids—and 1993, six years after he left the Senate, to endorse gay service in the military (he had a gay grandson and grandniece as well as three granddaughters, in addition to the daughter, who had had abortions), but better later than never. He also endorsed medical marijuana for Arizona (Rep. Barry Goldwater, Jr., R-CA, refused to respond to "substantial evidence" of his use of cocaine and other drugs when he was serving in the House between 1969 and 1983) in 1993 and of course acknowledged sometime in the 1990s that voting against the 1964 Civil Rights Act was "one of his greatest regrets".

All I'm saying is, if today's Republicans would just try honoring those great conservative values now, instead of waiting till they got around to retiring before they catch up with the rest of their families, they might find themselves more in tune with the majorities of voters who favor less restricted access to abortion, maintaining access to contraception, accepting marriages between people of the same sex, accepting recreational cannabis use, and preferring moments of silence to formal prayers before school starts . And then they might have a better chance of winning elections without trying to steal them on the basis of evidence-free fraud allegations.

Hahahahaha and they know it's true, but they've made themselves prisoners of the authoritarian base, and as the example of Senator Goldwater shows, that goes back a long way. It's just more of a problem than it used to be, and it's getting worse.

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