|I feel your pain.|
And it feels just like hope
And it really only gets better, as the national Republican party begins to come to terms with something we've all known was coming for years. Every four years the population gets a little younger and a little browner and there just is no longer enough angry old white people to make a successful national political constituency. So now we're hearing anguished cries from virtually all corners of the American Political Right that they have to find a way to soften their message and become more diverse and inclusive. And I smile and think "good luck with that".
Now the hard political fact is that they COULD do this. They could easily reduce their absolutist commitment to the wealthiest Americans and Corporations while still remaining friendlier to them than many Democrats. They could back away from their commitments to social issues, from abortion and women's rights to gay rights and Church/State separation. They could even moderate their positions on labor and immigration. Sure, various factions of their coalition, primarily evangelical protestants and bigots, would scream bloody murder, but it's not like they're going to vote Democratic any time soon. And while they might stamp their collective feet and threaten to create a third party, we can ask anyone from Ross Perot to Jill Stein how that's going to turn out for them - after a single election cycle they'll have their constituency back in place as if nothing ever happened.
But while these things are politically possible - the Democratic party has proven it time and again over the years by treating their left-wing base with contempt and still getting their votes, because people like me, while we would LOVE to see a more progressive President, are never going to facilitate the election of a bloated plutocrat like Mitt Romney or a reactionary fascist tool like John McCain - the Republican party has one specific reason why it cannot moderate its messaging. The House of Representatives.
You see, there are three tiers of elections for national office. There is a national election for President. There are statewide elections for Senators. And there are much smaller, district-level elections for Congresspeople. Obviously, the national electorate includes the broadest set of political opinions, and includes a significant number of people who are ideologically left of center, or at least left of the Overton Window. At the statewide level, the electorate tends to be more partisan, with some states much more blue overall, like California and Massachusetts and New York, and others, more rural and less densely populated much more red. But a congressional district is a different kind of thing. A large metropolitan area may include three districts, while vast agricultural and rural portions of a state might have fifteen. The way America's population is distributed, and particularly the broad differences in diversity, tolerance, education and religious conviction between the big cities and the great hinterlands, essentially creates a condition where the median congressional district is significantly more Conservative than a larger sampling would be. In a large percentage of these districts, the people demand an extreme-far right ideology in their representatives - this is the home turf of the "tea party".
So in order to start to back away from their more extreme wing in order to begin to appeal to Latinos, to educated Americans and to people who care about the environment and the poor, the national Republican party would have to repudiate the policies of their own Congressional caucus, which would lead to an incoherent and chaotic political message that could never get out of its own way long enough to win an election. The party is, in essence, being held hostage by a political base that can never again be large enough to win national office, and yet their message is one of bigotry and exclusion. It's a genuine challenge to which there is no easy solution - for which we can thank our lucky stars.