Column: Republicans not inclusive enough
JAMES THOMAS. In My Opinion
Republicans really shot themselves in the foot with this election. From their controversial nomination process to their rather plastic National Convention, they've had a seriously difficult time connecting with average Americans - one of the current administration's stronger traits. I get it; we have some serious economic problems and even more problems remaining top-dog in the world. But the Republicans fail to see that the way to fix this is not by abandoning the wishes of their own delegations and undermining voter intelligence - both actions the Democrats successfully respected in 2008.
President Obama leads by as much as ten percentage points in most reliable polls. Granted, Mitt Romney's recent comments about Americans wanting a free ride probably did not help his case, but these numbers should, at the very least, compel Republicans to do a lot of soul searching, especially since the right's strategy of blocking all meaningful legislation brought forth by the president has failed miserably. Americans, contrary to Republican myth, have paid more attention than ever to Congress' behavior and have awarded our legislative branch its lowest rating to date.
The problems I'm discussing here started with the Republican nomination process. Anyone who dug deeper than Fox News and MSNBC saw clear disturbances in individual caucuses, many of which banned the supporters of certain candidates and stretched their own rules to support another. If not for Rachael Maddow commentating on some of the more extreme cases, it's possible the mainstream media would have ignored what happened altogether. Since she did, however, Republicans seriously raised questions of legitimacy within their own party. I experienced this first-hand during the Washington State conventions and felt now was the time to step up and make my voice heard.
I voted for Barrack Obama in 2008 and quickly became dissatisfied with our country's direction - this was prior to my realization that Republicans in Congress had a plan to block anything the president wanted, no matter what. So with an open mind, I attended the Republican conventions in Washington State not only to possibly find the candidate that could offer a meaty challenge to Obama, but also to find someone who reflected key political concerns of my own.
The man that stood out to me was Ron Paul - sound money, smaller government and protection of liberties we enjoy sounded fantastic. All of my Democrat friends chastised me for my support, but I felt Ron Paul could make us smarter as a nation, at least from the standpoint of what he offered debate-wise (no offense to Gingrich; you're good, but you speak too much like a lawyer). Like Obama, he has an immense knowledge and understanding of the Constitution, which is something Mitt Romney seriously lacks. But unlike Obama, he does not believe that the Constitution is a "Living Document" and should be translated literally. Given that I took a lot of Political Science classes in college, and have a pretty good understanding of their contrasting yet similar ideologies, I asserted that an Obama/Paul debate would expose to mainstream America the root of our differences - differences that are not always about money.
To make a long story short, my vote in the regional caucus was not honored for reasons that were not explained. This did not bode well for the Republican party, especially when dozens and dozens of similar stories were reported by other caucuses (thank you Facebook). My confidence in finding a proper candidate dwindled quickly and conjured up memories of the 2000 election. Arbitrary rule, which was a huge issue to our ancestors, was so evident in this whole process that it seemed what we were doing as a delegation was a complete waste of time - Republican officials had obviously made up their minds prior to the caucuses and wanted to make us feel as though their decisions were ours. They may have tricked our "biased media" with their candidate's legitimacy, but they failed to trick the people who actually cared enough to show up and partake in the process.
When Republicans ponder where they went wrong the day after Obama absolutely owns this election, maybe they should reflect on their own behaviors leading up to November and the times they denied their own people's voices. As for me, I am willing to give a guy a chance to turn this thing around who has legitimately earned his spot and has actually listened to what we want. In the words of Bill Clinton, "Nobody, and I mean nobody could've cleaned this mess up in four years," and I wholeheartedly agree. Obama 2012.
James Thomas is a history and pre-law junior and can be reached at email@example.com
In My Opinion is a weekly column open to any Loyola student. Those interested in contributing can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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