Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The white male heterosexual patriarchy's death throes

I am struck today by how it used to be that Republicans would lie voters into thinking they were on the side of "everyman(woman)" only to fleece them when they got into office. I'm not saying that's totally gone - all one has to do is take a look at Romney's rather tortured attempt to explain himself to Michigan voters in order to see those efforts continue.

But based on what we've seen so far in this campaign, I can't help but envision a cadre of heterosexual white men sitting in some smoke-filled room trying to decide which group of American voters to piss off next.

Lets be honest, Republicans have never made much of an attempt to woo the gay and lesbian vote. As a matter of fact, they've done everything they can to fight the so-called "gay agenda." But in a few days one of their darlings of the future, Governor Chris Christie, has promised to veto a gay marriage bill passed by both houses of the New Jersey legislature.

Gays and lesbians pissed off - check

Its also true that African Americans have been a common punching bag for Republicans for years now with their dog whistles that stir up the base. And the truth is - since the Civil Rights era - there's no constituency that has been more loyal to Democrats than African Americans. So the likelihood of them providing much Republican support in 2012 against the first African American president is pretty much nil anyway. So I suppose you might say that it wasn't a touch call to take the dog whistles up to quantum level in terms of racism about "Blah Americans" and do everything possible to keep them from being able to vote.

African Americans pissed off - check

Dana Milbank thinks that when it comes to Latino voters, Republicans have an un impulso suicida.

What else but a death wish could explain the party’s treatment of the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation? First was the wave of Arizona-style immigration laws. Then came the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the GOP presidential candidates. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans roughed up Adalberto Jose Jordan — because, well, just because they could.

Milbank goes on to explain that Adalberto Jose Jordan - who was nominated to become the first Cuban-born judge to serve on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida - is being blocked from confirmation in order to allow Republicans to play political games.

Latino Americans pissed off - check

But who would have thought that Republicans would take on the task of pissing off half the US population that happen to have a uterus (as well as those without one who support them)? And yet that's exactly what it looks like we're witnessing in the whole bru-ha-ha over access to contraception. I don't need to link to all the polls - I'm sure you've seen them by now. But you'd be hard pressed to find a woman these days who hasn't used these products either to prevent pregnancy, for other medical reasons, or both.

Female Americans pissed off - check

In the rational part of my brain the wheels are spinning trying to understand all this. Have those men in the smoke-filled room figured out some electoral path that leads to victory with the few remaining folks they haven't pissed off in this process? I'm pretty sure that's not the case.

This isn't rational. As much progress as we've seen over the decades on the racism/sexism/homophobia on which this country was founded, the white male heterosexual patriarchy has still assumed it was in charge. Those days are numbered now and everyone knows it...the beast is in its death throes. And in the process, its lashing out at every available target it perceives as a threat.

Time to let it die.


  1. There is a calculation here, but it's ugly and undemocratic (small "d"). It works like this:

    Republican state legislatures across the country have introduced new voter restrictions that will disproportionately impact persons of color, young voters, and women ... all groups that usually for Democrats. The Brennan Center reports those states total 171 electoral votes.

    But suppressing the Democratic vote by a handful of points may not be enough. Turnout in the primaries held so far, and polls on the GOP presidential candidates, show Republicans face an enthusiasm gap on par with 2006-2008. If GOP turnout in November mirrors what we've seen so far, it could be another blue wave.

    Unless the economy tanks between now and November, Republicans' best hope to win is for a hotly-debated culture war to boost their base turnout enough to offset their losses among independents ... while their voter suppression tactics drive down turnout for Democrats.

    1. Even if by some stretch of the imagination these effort should work in 2012 (I don't think they will), the death of the beast is still imminent. Death throws in a cultural sense take longer than for an individual. The Republicans will need to reinvent themselves in order to avoid dying with it.

    2. I shared your reply and links on my FB page "Help a Neighbor Vote"
      I only have 135 followers, but hopefully your message will be shared.

  2. Smartypants, it always feels like my b-day when I go to your blog and find a new post from you. Thank you! They've certainly made a "suicida" pact. RIP Beast!

  3. Good column, but could you please fix the headline? It's "death throes". (Spell-check won't catch homophones.)

    The problem isn't heterosexual white males; they're no better nor worse than people of any other gender, ethnicity or orientation. The problem is, always has been, privileged, self-satisfied people who don't care about anyone outside their narrow range of interest.

    For years, the Republican strategy has been about getting "50% plus one vote". And then only considering themselves obligated to that 50% + 1, not the whole constituency. (More realistically, they're obligated to the small group of billionaires who are paying half the cost of the current Republican campaigns.)

    1. Thanks for the spelling correction - fixed.

      But I'd suggest you're making a distinction without a difference in the rest of your comment. The privilege those folks are protecting is based on being white male heterosexuals.

    2. I disagree; the distinction I make goes to the heart of the matter.

      50 years from now, the power structure may not be dominated by white male heterosexuals, but it's likely to be dominated by people just as determined to maintain their own privileged status at the expense of others. Women are no better than men; brown people (which is most people) are no better than pale people.

      In fact, it's this happenstance (that the privilege currently being protected is based on being white male heterosexuals) that is a distinction without a difference. And also not that true. More and more, privilege is based on money before all else. I don't expect that to change soon. (Though if things go really badly, privilege might be based on how great a store of dried rat meat you have in your dugout. Which is still wealth.)

    3. Actually the problem is "heterosexual white males" because barely any of them can handle adoring a woman that turns out to be just as free as he is. That's how it's designed and that's how it works on men

  4. A point of distinction: The "Hispanic vote" ISN'T. Latinos are as mixed a bag as anyone else. Think Sephardic vs Ashkenazi Jews. I guarrantee that Bubbe (if her people were from Germany) would be horrified if you thought her to be of Sephardic or Mizrachi extraction.

    There are broad measures of homogeneity in all Hispanic communities. But their differences and the political sophistication they display are striking as well.

    Cuban Hispanics are purple. That is, older Cuban Hispanics tend strongly toward R's and younger Cuban Hispanics tend mildly to D's. Both sets are probably more politically sophisticated than anyone in Boston.

    Tejano Hispanics are apolitical. They tend not to vote at all. If they DO vote, they vote 60-40 Democratic. GWBush provided cover for conservatives with the Hispanic vote. Essentially calming the huge hispanic voter base, and keeping them apolitical. In general, they are not politically sophisticated and in some areas are dominated by the patron system.

    Nuevo Mexicanos comprise 46% of the population in New Mexico. Most claim to be Spanish ... NOT Hispanic which is seen as Mexican. They are beginning to turn NM blue nationally, but themselves are purple, locally. If anything, these people split between being the most politically sophisticated in the US and being some of the least sophisticated. (believe it or not, some are jewish from the 15th century)

    Californios are BLUE. Period. Pete Wilson saw to that in 2000.

    In the case of Adalberto Jose Jordan, you have not pissed off the Hispanic vote ... you pissed off a portion of the CUBAN vote. However, the portion you po'd wasn't going to vote for you anyway. Given the political sophistication, a fairish number of them are probably glad it happened.

    The rest of the Hispanic bloc? I'm not going to say they are pleased, but its not going to be high on the radar screen.

    1. I wasn't attempting to write an essay on the complexity of the Latino vote. But thanks for offering some thoughts on that (by the way, there is also a lot of political complexity in the other groups I mentioned).

      Most folks are very aware of the friction between Mexican and Puerto Rican Hispanics and Cubans (especially the older Republican variety of the later). That's precisely why this move with Adalberto Jose Jordan was so monumentally stupid on the part of Republicans. They may well have just pissed off their one reliable portion of the Latino community. Whether or not it will be enough to lose their vote - I doubt it. But it struck me as the perfect example for the point I'm making...that they almost seem to be purposefully pushing voters away.

    2. This is certainly true, and for that matter I think we're moving toward a time when distinctions like Hispanic vs. white will blur into uselessness because of intermarriage and assimilation. Still, by attacking [all groups they classify as] Hispanics so systematically in state after state, the Republicans may even be helping to solidify a sense of common identity aimed against themselves. It give all these diverse populations something in common -- the fact that they're targeted by Republicans.

    3. Infidel,

      I was thinking the same thing more broadly about the entire Democratic coalition. Those in one faction or the other can sometimes vie for center stage. I'm sure that some of that will always be present. But the idea of the white male heterosexual patriarchy in its death throes could unify us towards the common goal of seeing the whole thing go extinct.

    4. ye gods, I love this place.

      You guys are not wrong and neither was I. Everything I said was pretty much correct, but could have been said a lot quicker: Going after the court nominee ain't going to hurt'em much.

      More to the point, tho, is that prior to 1968 most R's had a vision of the future that extended into the 21st century. This is a good thing. Our current crop (and those in the immediate past) have a vision of the future that extends to the next election (and sometimes not even that). That is not a good thing.

      Lockwasright is right. And it is this lack of future vision that has made the chickens begin to come home to roost.

      In the terms smartypants is using, the "the white male heterosexual patriarchy" still exists. But the leadership that caused it to maintain its stranglehold has died. The leadership that has it now is stupid. And stupid almost always ends up losing to smart.

  5. Shortly after the 2008 presidential election I wrote a diary at the great orange satan. In is I suggested that the president's election was not an indication that we'd arrived at a post racial era. Rather, I suggested that the GOP's intollerance, homophobia, social conservatism, and racism (can we you say Southern Strategy) had finally shoved enough demographics into the back of the bus that the back was now more populated than the front! In a pluralistic democracy, the practice of the politics of exclusion is limited in the amount of success it can bring before it becomes flat out suicidal. Changing demographics in this country only serve to accellerate this effect. The GOP is in deep doo doo. Their base is their base almost solely because of these things. They cannot turn from it and win and they cannot keep it and win. Their bigoted chickens are coming home to roost.

    I am going to be impossible for my conservative coworkers and relatives to be around for about the next 30 years!

    Where is Nelson Muntz when you need him?

    1. LOL - made me look up Nelson Muntz. That's how out of touch I am.

  6. 'Afternoon, Ms. Pants

    Firstly, Amen.

    Secondly, and weird for me, I know. But, I can say it more succinctly still....

    The. arc. bends. toward. JUSTICE.

  7. Hi Smartypants,

    I agree with you, it defies all logic, historical precedents aside. Their base is not large enough to make such tactics worthwhile. It would seem to me that ____ (insert hate or fear) mongering strategies will with surety awaken the "sleeping giant" which will force more folks to vote and mobilize independent voters as well. The numbers are against them.

    This is not to say we should be complacent as there is too much at stake but it is oh so satisfying to see the enemy eating itself from within. Not to sound ghoulish or anything :).

    They truly are out of step with reality. Great post and the comments are pretty hot as well...

  8. The Republican party is almost certainly throwing this election on purpose, as they did in 1964, in order to redefine the party. All of their remaining candidates are vote-shedders rather than vote-attractors. Any reasonable voices have gone mysteriously silent, e.g. Jon Huntsman.

    Whether they can actually survive this farce is another question entirely. The whole "big tent" notion does not work for the Republicans and they have always functioned best as an opposition party. I think you're quite right about the death of white male heterosexual patriarchy. The folks who are clearly targeted for jettisoning are the right-wing religious zealots who represent the extremist WMHP and have hijacked the party.

  9. As a white, mature, hetero male, I find everything the Republicans stand for repugnant. (The only difference between me and those right-wing slobs is that I work for a living, rather than live off other people's money; and unlike the Faux News base, I don't vote against my own interests).


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