Saturday, November 10, 2012

Next Time, Try Bribery

At first glance, it makes sense.  At second glance, it does not.    Zeke Miller, whose article in BuzzFeed formed the basis of my previous post, noted also

More common is the sense that the party’s problems can be fixed without a philosophical shift.

“We have to do a better job of appealing to women, minorities, and young people,” a state-based Republican operative said. “I think a lot of that starts with adopting an approach to social issues that is more of a ‘this is what I believe and here's why it's important, but it's not government or politicians' role to impose that upon others who may not feel that way.’ It will be a challenge to unite the various factions behind that philosophy, but if we're truly the party of limited government and individual freedom and initiative then we must be willing to be consistent with that view.”

Where to start?   Wisely, the "state-based Republican operative" evidently did not offer his or her name.    Barry Goldwater is dead, literally and figuratively.  Others have noted the Republican Party ceased long ago to be "the party of limited government and individual freedom and initiative."    It has ceased to exist for any reason other than to uphold corporate power, as reflected in its opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Act.  The legislation, vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan claimed, "wasn't an equal pay law, and of course, we support equal pay."    Of course they support it- as long as it's voluntary; we wouldn't want to inconvenience corporations of course, by giving women a fair opportunity to challenge discrimination.  It would be just swell if employers decided on their own on a wage scale uninfluenced by the sexual machinery an individual is born with.

In a second straight presidential race, the GOP was clobbered, as this operative understands, among young people.    But it is to some extent a function of a Democratic nominee who particularly appeals to young people and, to a lesser extent, alienates elderly people.

"Our packaging lost," claims the chairman of the College National Republican Committee, "and we have to improve the way we communicate our message to young and Hispanic voters.”

How soon we forget.  Soon after Ryan's selection by Mitt Romny, The Daily Beast's Kirsten Powers wrote

We’ve finally been vindicated: Members of Generation X have a representative who is anything but a slacker.

GOP Congressman Paul Ryan—the tireless, wonky, 42-year-old workout freak—has made history by becoming the first member of our generation to join a presidential ticket. It should come as a surprise to no one that his calling card is reforming entitlements.

We hear incessantly about how members of today’s screwed generation face the prospect of less prosperous lives than those lived by their parents. But the maiden generation to stare down that gloomy prognosis was Generation X, the tiny slice of America born between about 1965 and 1980. (Ryan was born in 1970.) We were the first generation to be told we would never get Social Security or Medicare even though we would be forced to pay into these programs.

Enter Ryan. While Democrats attack his Medicare plan as “radical” and portray him as pushing granny off the cliff, young people don’t seem to be buying this caricature. Or maybe “radical” is what they want.

A Zogby/JZ Analytics poll Tuesday showed increased support among voters 18-29 for the Romney ticket, which pollster John Zogby attributed to the Ryan pick.  President Obama received just 49 percent of the youth vote, versus Romney’s 41 percent. (Obama took home 66 percent of the youth vote  against McCain in 2008.)

For those who think those numbers are an anomaly, take a look at Pew’s 2011 polling that found that among 18-29 year olds, 46 percent supported Ryan’s proposed Medicare changes with only 28 percent opposing (the rest had no opinion). Among 30-49 year olds it was 38 percent approving and 36 percent opposed. The strongest opposition to Ryan’s plan comes from those over 65, who ironically won’t even be affected by his plan since it would only apply to those 55 and under . Pew found that age, not party identification was the biggest predictor of how a person would feel about his plan...

But Ryan is young and is poised to be the intellectual leader of the conservative movement for the next generation. He will be a force to be reckoned with. Name-calling and distortions of his plan by Democrats is not an effective long-term strategy, nor is it good for the country.

Powers, who doesn't understand Social Security and Medicare, nevertheless acknowledged what many Repub analysts will not do so in the wake of the election:   Ryan was selected in part for his appeal to youth. Young people are more accepting of efforts to undermine Social Security and Medicare.   For many years now, they have been led to believe by opportunistic and dishonest politicians that Social Security, without changes, is on the road to extinction; and that the increase in health care costs owes not to health insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals or public policies favoring the medical-industrial complex but to Medicare itself.   Additionally, young people have not themselves experienced either program, whose popularity among the elderly is astounding.

Romney hoped Ryan's addition would appease the far right and take back in Wisconsin (how did that work out, Mitt?),   He obviously recognized that Ryan's leadership in the effort to decimate Medicare and eviscerate Social Security was a risk worth taking in the effort to woo young voters.   The nominee could have chosen Ohio's Senator Rob Portman and won in Ohio- and in Florida, whose voters are deeply vested in the importance of maintaining Social Security and Medicare benefits.    But youthful, hapless Paul Ryan, who was eaten up and spit out by Joe Biden in debate and spent the last couple of weeks of the campaign wandering the country, was expected to expand the GOP brand to young people.   Instead, he was the second straight Repub presidential nominee to contribute to his party's defeat at the polls.  Good luck with that "packaging" to the under 30 crowd.

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