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This Old Party: The Conservative Renovation

I know there are scores of disappointed, heavy-hearted Republicans and conservatives walking around, and I can imagine your angst, your pain, your bitterness, and your confusion. I have the notion that you really thought you had this one, and so, the election night losses must have surely felt like being blindsided. And, honestly, I have compassion for you. I also have some advice, too, though I'm not sure you'll like it. Keep in mind that I know there are plenty of conservatives and Republicans who don't need this advice, who aren't guilty of the kind of thinking I describe below. Nonetheless, there's a certain tenor to today's Republican Party, a certain "flavor", if you will. And, pardon me for saying so, but it's gone off, like a jar of mayonnaise left in the sun.

My best advice is to open your minds and your hearts. Stop fearing, and/or despising, and/or distrusting poor people, people of color, LGBTQ people, women, union workers, and immigrants. Stop rejecting science. Drop the superiority complex you have in regards to foreign countries and cultures. Stop maligning any religion that doesn't fit your version of Christianity. Stop dismissing any and every bit of information that doesn't come from FOX News. Stop focusing so perversely on ludicrous non-issues, like your obsession with "English-only" movements, your false claims of wars on things like religion and Christmas, and your misplaced paranoia about having your guns taken away. You may also want to stop talking about rape.

You used to distinguish yourselves from Democrats and progressives by your aggressive defense of economic liberty and personal freedom and by your fiscal and foreign policy, but now you distinguish yourselves by your resistance and hostility toward a world that is rapidly changing around you. You argue that certain kinds of people shouldn't have full equality, you argue that half the country is comprised of lazy, irresponsible slackers who want hand-outs, you argue that Christianity is the only legitimate religion, you rail against science, you disparage higher education and intellectualism, you elevate the wealthy to a vaunted class that doesn't have a responsibility to contribute equitably to our country's well-being, you focus on women's role as incubators and abandon them when it comes to issues like pay equity and inequality of opportunity, all the while attempting to pass legislation mandating invasive medical procedures, criminalizing certain forms of birth control, and embracing increasingly radical positions on abortion.

It's complete madness, and Tuesday's election results—from the presidential, to the local, state, and national races that saw the ascendance of women, to the rejection of the most ideologically-rigid conservative candidates, to the gay marriage victories, to the glaringly, blindingly, nearly-all-white electorate that cast its vote for Romney—all highlight, in their own way, how completely out of touch your oppressive, fear-based, reactionary politics are with the reality of our country’s shifting landscape. While the United States, in general, seems to be moving toward a more open, fluid notion of what it means to be an "American", conservatives seem to be clamoring for a narrowing of that designation.

And so, I think you've gone astray, my conservative friends, and you are going to be left behind if you don't learn how to adapt to our rapidly-changing demographics. And I promise that you can do that and still honor traditional conservative principles like economic freedom, limited government, self-discipline, social order, and pragmatism.

We shouldn't be arguing about trans-vaginal ultrasounds, or who deserves equality, or whether 98% of climate scientists know what they're talking about, or any of the multitude of issues that have served only to keep us from engaging in useful, legitimate debate about the issues relevant to creating a healthy, thriving economy and a vibrant United States. Diversity is strength, people, and the US is rich with it—embrace it!

So, again, I ask that you open your hearts and your minds and accept our country as it actually exists and stop working so hard to deny or ignore or reject our reality. The white majority is disappearing, heterosexuality is no longer the only acceptable sexual orientation, and women are shaking off the restrictive notions that have kept them from recognizing and wielding their own power.

Come, join us here in the 21st century, and we'll bump heads and fiercely debate taxes and monetary policy, the role of government in our lives, and foreign policy issues. And we need that debate, we need the best ideas and impulses that both the right and the left have to offer, in order to craft the kinds of policies that will best serve our country and our fellow citizens. So please, leave that old mind-set behind, the one that was informed by fear, by bigotry, by judgment, and recognize that unity is where our strength lies and that discord will forever be a boot on our throat. The misguided focus on fabricated divisions will forever keep us weak and act as the stones that will grind the US to dust. 

True conservatives, I beseech you: Come out, come out, where ever you are…

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