One reason why Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential races is because they come off as intolerant. In fact, after the GOP got whacked in the ’12 election, party leaders pleaded for a mental makeover: “We must change our tone….We must be a party that is welcoming and inclusive for all voters.”
For starters, party leaders wrote in their ’12 autopsy report, it was imperative that the GOP become more tolerant toward gay Americans. For many young voters in particular, gay equality is “the civil rights issue of our time.” The leaders warned that the GOP’s continued hostility was “turning off” those voters – a perilous development, because the party’s future hinged on attracting the young.
Well, guess what. The ’16 party is as unwelcoming and intolerant as ever. You will not be shocked to learn that the new Republican platform taking shape in Cleveland is a shout-out to an America that doesn’t exist, at least not in the 21st century.
For instance, at a time when mainstream America has accepted the reality of gay marriage – the latest Gallup poll cites record-high support of 61 percent – the new Republican platform is rooted in the vanished past. The party that professes to revere the rule of law rejects the historic ’15 Supreme Court ruling which decreed that marriage equality is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection of the laws.
Instead, the platform – the official articulation of the party’s principles – urges that the ruling be overturned by a new constitutional amendment. Given the fact that the platform committee is dominated by intolerant right-wingers – one member has compared the gay rights movement to “pre-Holocaust Germany”; another member has claimed that homosexuality kills people at two to three times the rate of smoking” – it’s no surprise that the panel indulges magical thinking. There’s no chance whatsoever, not down here in the real world, that two-thirds of both congressional chambers would ever propose such an amendment, or that three-fourths of the state legislatures would OK it.
No matter. The platform authors prefer to think they have God on speed-dial. The platform calls on lawmakers to use religion as a guide during the legislative process – “man-made law must be consistent with God-given natural rights” – and it calls for the appointment of judges who will “respect traditional family values.” Which is priceless, since the party is poised to nominate a guy who practices traditional family values by having kids with three wives. (A great moment last year on CNN: Donald Trump said he wanted to defy the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling by fighting for “traditional marriage,” and the host shot back, “What’s traditional about being married three times?”)
Anyway, even though sane Republicans keep counseling the party to join the current century, it ain’t happening. The new platform gives a nod to “conversion therapy,” the long-debunked belief that gays can be “cured.” It attacks gay adoption, claiming that children raised in “traditional two-parent households” are mentally healthier (despite fresh evidence, from the Journal of Developmental and Behavorial Pediatrics, that children raised by same-sex parents are just as healthy).
And, of course, there’s the bathroom thing. You knew that would be in there. The platform says that states should be free to bar transgender people from using their preferred johns – despite the dearth of evidence that transgender people have preyed upon anyone anywhere. This plank was too much for Annie Dickerson, a committee member from New York: “We have a bathroom or restroom obsession in this platform.”
This is what happens when a party cedes control of its message to extremists. One of the key platform players is Tony Perkins, president of the gay-hating Family Research Council. He proudly told the press yesterday that the platform “is a statement…of the Republican party.” It most certainly is.
All quests for tolerance were rejected. The panel even rejected language that would’ve acknowledged “a diversity of opinion” among Republicans on gay marriage. It even said no to language that would’ve condemned ISIS for targeting gay people. Dickerson summed it up perfectly: “We know that we’re not gay- happy or gay-supportive here, but the dead horse has been beaten again and again and again.”
Indeed, the party’s official ‘tude complements Trump quite nicely. He disses women and Hispanics, and the platform disses gays. It’s an intolerance trifecta – and another blueprint for defeat.
By the way, if the GOP’s goal is to connect better with young voters, Trump is doing the party no favors.