Monday, March 18, 2013

Rob Portman, CPAC, and the GOP Mind

Conservatism is suffering many internal problems these days. But I think it all comes down to a problem changing. They are behind the times on issues like gay rights and abortion. I

True, conservatism is supposed to be drawn to maintaining old ways. But it is supposed to change some, hence conservatives embracing things like clothes wearing and fire. Change comes to all. But the "modern" conservative movement in the United States seems to have chosen to take a stand against this. Instead of advancing and changing with the times, they seem to have decided to become more entrenched and vitriolic.

But in this day, sometimes, we see a little change. We see some eye opening and self-reflection. This last week offered up Republican Senator Rob Portman as an example of this. Having learned that his son is gay, he's' been moved to reexamine policy he's pushed and attitudes he's held.


And I'm willing to take him at his word on this. Trying to complain about why he changed how he feels immaterial. If he changes his voting pattern and his advocacy now, it's hard not to be happy.

He's come in contact with and been affected by a part of the world he was oblivious to. Great. For that matter, I am pleased if wants to join the fight to guarantee rights.

It doesn't undo the suffering he's helped cause, co-sponsored DOMA, defended Don't Ask Don't Tell, supported constitutional bans on gay marriage. But if he wants to change now, and take heat from Conservatism for it, good for him.


For most of us, empathy and contact help shape our worldviews. We meet and talk with people different then us and it helps shape how we think. Or, we like to learn, and that leads us to an awareness of other groups and cultures, and their histories and issues. And through these venues, we grow and change ourselves, and we are concerned about how we impact them ( By what we say, what we do, what laws we endorse and vote for.).

Portman has opened himself up to ONE group now. Will he do it for others? Does he consider how his votes affect his daughters health? Does he have family who've been financially wiped out by an illness that he considers as he  is drafting bills?

This the problem of the GOP mind. It's closed off from to looking too far passed itself. When the GOP pushes anti-gay law, they don't think too hard about how it will affect gay people. Or, how anti-women law will affect women (Though you may have noticed the number of times some, if not all, the Republican women have broken ranks in the passed few years on women's issues.). When they cut aid to the poor, it's something cut from a group that is just a caricature and stereotype. Their laws and impact are not fully measured, beyond how they advance ideology and agenda.

And they continue down this destructive track, except in those rare cases where it personally affects them. Look at Chris Christie and Peter King. They took very quick turns to supporting some federal government spending and presidential action, once their states were hit with calamity. They got a heaping dose of personal effect dumped right on. Still, passed that event, they both struggle to comprehend the needs of other Americans. The sneer at government aid still resides on their faces, once the matters where they are personally affected pass.

The GOP just struggles with empathy.  It's what we see with recent talk on immigration reform. They keep talking about how it will win them Hispanic support. They don't talk near enough about it being the right thing to do, it's just a vote winner. And that is just sad.

And you see the sensibilities they now cling to played out in a cartoonish manner at this week's CPAC event. It wasn't well attended, from what I saw, but it reflects how Conservatism is thinking, voting, legislating, and impacting the United States.

People who need financial help are lazy and looking for handouts. Women who want an abortion are bad people. Gays are choosing to be shunned. Blacks and Hispanics are...You know how they talk.

Getting angry at people for being different sells at this event. The poor are to be derided. Foreigners are to be sneered at. And government aid is to be stopped. It's the same angry rhetoric they drag around to every event, every year. The times, the places, the experiences of people in nearby communities, all irrelevant. The anger is what matters. They live in a sick cycle.

And cycle is what it is. They try to ensure from the earliest age possible to keep kids limited to acceptable knowledge sources. Then as they grow up, keep them limited to resources for information, and get them to shun and hold other sources in contempt. And, if they succeed, they have someone who goes to Liberty U, listens to Rush Limbaugh, watches FOX News, and chuckles when someone calls the rest of the media, the lame stream. The bubble is complete, on to the next generation.

But then, every once in a while, something hits them in their own lives. They open their eyes just a bit and notice the world around that they impact. And, maybe, they decide to care and be more aware. They decide to help and grow as a person. And, sometimes, they recoil and get angrier and seek places to toss blame, retreating further into the bubble.

So, I am happy Portman has gotten some sense, on one issue. The rest of the country awaits his awakening on their concerns as well. And the whole of the country awaits the GOP and Conservatism awakening to the reality and needs of this nation.

The GOP chairman was eager to call CPAC a great representation of what the Republicans, and conservatism, is now. This is an event that had people talking about how good slavery was for black people. Unbelievable.

WAKE UP! CPAC is over, and it's time to get up and open your eyes to this concerns and needs of the country.

Don't hit snooze again. Time to face the reality outside your bubbles, and in reality.

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