Is the Right's Lack of Introspection Holding It Back?
Tone-deaf conservatives who keep referring to the "47%" as if they are pond scum and constantly whine about the "low-information voter" are, at bottom, issuing a cry for help. Despite Republicans being told time and time again that there are tens of millions of senior citizens who vote Republican and pay no taxes, as well as millions of students and Social Security disability recipients who also vote Republican and pay nothing to the Treasury, the number "47%" is bandied about as if it explains everything. Can nothing penetrate the closed-information loop, the echo chamber that constantly buttresses the false belief that if parents have their kids' insurance subsidized through S-CHIP that this automatically makes them Democratic voters? Do no Appalachian whites who get welfare or millions of former middle-class voters who now find themselves on food stamps vote Republican?
No one likes to be called ignorant, and constantly griping about the LIV -- even when there is an equal or greater number of conservatives who fit that category -- is, to put it gently, brainless. Do conservatives actually believe that by insulting tens of millions of voters they are going to sweep to victory?
Dismissing criticism based on its source, a deliberate and determined effort to marginalize those who fail to meet familiar litmus tests (even if the apostate agrees with the right 90% of the time), an unhealthy mistrust of empirical data, and a general lack of critical thinking that leads to one conspiracy theory after another -- this is the modern "conservative" movement. Fed by delusional talk radio hosts and unhinged bloggers, it does, indeed, make the Republican party “'scary,’ ‘narrow-minded’ and ‘out of touch’."
The failure of the right to practice even a smidgeon of introspection is why this state of affairs will continue. The unwillingness, or the inability, to take a step back and examine one's assumptions and beliefs, testing them against what can be proven true or is self-evident, will continue to plague the Republican right and always end up forcing them into accepting the wrong conclusions for their failures. Would running a "real" conservative make a difference? When most of the right thinks a conservative governor from New Jersey is a liberal, it will become a test to see if there will ever be agreement on just who is a conservative and who isn't.
Stuart Rothenberg gives the GOP an idea of what it is up against in the near future:
Since the GOP brand is damaged, it has little credibility with certain voters. And because politics is invariably in the eye of the beholder, voters who don’t even consider listening to the GOP will have to become receptive to Republican arguments before they are willing to consider voting for Republican candidates.
But that isn’t likely to happen until those voters grow disillusioned with the Democrats. That disillusionment could come next week, next year or in 10 years, depending on events and circumstances. But voters won’t listen to the recalibrated Republican message — or even new GOP messengers — until they are looking for something new.
The right will not overcome the dominant media narrative of the GOP as the party of extreme, close-minded white males by constantly proving it right. And if the 2012 defeat won't reform conservatism, then a victory in the 2014 midterms where far fewer voters participate will serve only to exacerbate conservatism's myopia and epistemic closure and set them up for a bigger fall in 2016.