CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Don't read this if you think Barack Obama's re-election was a result of tilted polls, media bias, Acorn-type voter fraud or a vast Kenyan-Islamo-Socialist conspiracy against Judeo-Christian values. Candidly, you folks can't be helped; just burrow into the alternative reality you've comfortably occupied, warmed by your hatred of "them," all people who don't look like you, love like you or pray like you.
But if you think a vibrant Republican Party is an important national asset, keep reading, even if with one eye sharply focused on the author's point of view. Because this epistle is written by an unrepentant liberal, yeah, that dirtiest of all political words for the last decade or so. But note, being a self-described liberal is not the same as being a Democrat. If perpetuating Democratic occupation of the White House were the only objective, the prescription for the Republican Party is simple: don't change nuttin.
To be sure, your scrivener has acknowledged to friends that the greatest acts of political courage in his lifetime were performed by Republicans: Nelson Rockefeller at the 1964 Republican convention firmly refusing to be shouted down by the extremists on the convention floor; Elliot Richardson declining on principle to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, resigning as attorney general, and thereby ending his career as a Republican politician, and -- most surprising -- Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft, literally rising from his deathbed to resist a dark-of-night White House effort to extend authorization for a program of unconstitutional spying on U.S. citizens.
So this writer values a principled Republican Party. For one simple reason -- a vibrant GOP is critical to keeping the whole system honest. But fixing the current Republican Party requires first that one honestly diagnose the problem, for which history has some value. A candid review of the last 50 years of our political history requires a would-be fixer to face one overriding reality: the modern Republican Party is a product of political reaction against change, the biggest of which was the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Regardless of his positive qualities, Barry Goldwater ran in 1964 (in a campaign marked by Ronald Reagan's introduction to national politics) on a platform committed to repealing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which LBJ realized was giving the South to the Republican Party for a generation. Nixon picked up the theme in 1968 with a thinly-veiled call for "law and order" which no one confused with a simple concern for enhanced law enforcement; it was all about keeping "them" down.
More recently, purported efforts to ensure the "integrity" of the election process were transparent attempts to disenfranchise historically excluded African-American citizens, an effort that backfired enormously in the Tea Party governor of Florida's restriction of early voting days, by galvanizing black churches into a get-out-the-vote effort that surprisingly delivered 29 electoral votes to the Democratic candidate.
Over time, Republican political operatives added to the list of those whom it was OK to hate: "treehugger" environmentalists (including locals who oppose destroying 480-million-year-old mountains for the temporary expedient of boiling water to turn turbines in coal-fired electric generation plants), illegal aliens (the first of whom was some guy named Columbus), gay men and women (particularly those seeking the most conservative institution on the planet -- marriage), "liberal" intellectuals generally (Democratic Sen. John Kerry shockingly spoke French!) and climate scientists in particular (creators of that biggest of all scientific hoaxes, "climate change" -- the reality of which has already reduced west Texas to a desert) and religious minorities like Muslims (who now outnumber Episcopalians in the United States).
Critically, it was not enough to simply disagree with these "others" -- it was necessary to hate them. Over time, the collective electoral effect of the Republican Party's expanding appetite for hate has been to make the GOP the new minority, easily the simplest explanation for the ability of a Democrat to win election in an era of persistently high unemployment and exploding debt.
So that's it, really. The Republican Party cannot build a future based on expanding the list of Americans whom it is OK to hate. The totally foreseeable and only logical result of that endeavor is that, in time, the purveyor of hate is reduced in direct proportion to the increase of those hated. So it behooves Republicans to seriously examine their affinity for marketers of hate, whether on hate radio, in high-sounding but bogus philanthropic groups, or in their individual hearts.
There is, after all, an alternative model for Republicans to follow; a man named Lincoln who issued the Emancipation Proclamation ending three centuries of slavery for millions of Africans brought to this country against their will in chains. Yes, Lincoln, the first Republican, whose stature in American life grows exponentially with every book written and every movie made about him. Think about him as an alternative to the recent hatemongers. We will welcome you back to the contest for America's soul!
DePaulo is a Charleston lawyer.