Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Democrats Seize on Social Issues as Attitudes Shift

As the Republican Party becomes more and more racist and extreme on social issues, Democrats are finding that the social issues that the GOP has used as a dog whistle for religious extremists and white supremacists can be a useful tool to rally the Democrat base as more and more decent Americans have shifted their views on minorities, gays and other issues.  While GOP policies remain focused on stirring hate and division, more and more of us are finding ourselves the target of such hate and are saying "Enough!".   An article in the New York Times looks at the way in which so-called social issues are beginning to bomerang on Republicans.  Here are some excerpts:
Facing re-election, Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin, no longer talks about stopping same-sex marriage. “It’s those on the left that are pushing” the issue, he says.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, argued that Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic incumbent, was “making up my views” when Mr. Warner accused him of seeking to overturn abortion rights and ban some forms of contraception. In fact, Mr. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said in a recent debate, he wants contraceptives available (behind the counter) at pharmacies without a prescription.

“Udall is running his entire campaign on social issues,” said Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “All they talk about is birth control, ‘personhood,’ abortion.”

So will many other Democrats this fall. They aim to match President Obama’s feat in 2012, when the incumbent used topics such as same-sex marriage and contraception as weapons to offset his vulnerability on the economy. That they would even try while facing the older, whiter, more conservative midterm electorate shows how thoroughly the politics of social issues have turned upside down.

Now the values wedge cuts for Democrats. Demographic change keeps shrinking Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” . . . . American households have changed significantly. Nearly half of adults are unmarried. Fully 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples are interracial or interethnic. Acceptance of same-sex marriage has expanded with astonishing speed.

Democrats profit politically — among young voters, college graduates, single women, blacks and Latinos — from the sense that they welcome these cultural shifts while Republicans resist them.

“That’s why people are voting for us these days — not for our economic prowess,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. “They all reflect an underlying attitude. It’s openness, it’s tolerance, it’s respect for others and who they are.”

A recent Pew Research Center study highlighted how the Republican base diverges from majority opinion and experience. Members of a category Pew calls “steadfast conservatives,” mirroring Tea Party Republicans, attend church more often than any other group. More than half of them have guns in their homes, compared with one-third of the population over all.

Only 18 percent of staunch conservatives say society should accept homosexuality, compared with 62 percent overall; 16 percent believe society is “just as well off” if people have priorities other than marriage and children, compared with 50 percent over all; and 28 percent favor legalization of marijuana, compared with 54 percent over all.

While 61 percent of the population says the globe is warming, three in four staunch conservatives see “no solid evidence.”

As Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, put it, “I still wake up in disbelief at the transformation that’s taken place.”

The GOP's embrace of ignorance, haters and bigots will ultimately be its down fall.  That fall cannot come soon enough for some of us.

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