How the Culture Wars are Turning on the GOP

The "mommy wars" aren't going Mitt Romney's way.
American women favor Barack Obama by a 14-point margin over Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday, despite the recent partisan "Mommy Wars" flap over the role of women in society.

Fifty-one percent of registered women voters support the Democratic president, according to the poll, compared with 37 percent who favor Romney...
A CNN poll has the President up by 16 points, 55% to 37% among women.

You don't say. Insincere politicization of motherhood, and then bragging about how your wife got an "early birthday present" after a CNN employee said the wrong thing about stay-at-home moms isn't helping Mitt Romney? I am shocked.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll's crosstabs have more bad news for Romney - President Obama leads with women on all issues, including those ever illusive "family values."

In a potentially troubling sign for Romney as he tries to overcome the traditional gender gap, in which women generally favor Democratic candidates over Republicans, more women voters rated Obama stronger on every issue.

Forty-six percent of women said Obama was better on jobs and the economy, picked by a majority of women as their top issue, while 40 percent picked Romney. Fifty-two percent rated Obama as stronger on healthcare, while only 32 percent said Romney was stronger.

Despite Republicans' efforts to portray themselves as the party of the family, Obama even had a big edge on family values among women, with 51 percent picking him as better on that issue compared with 36 percent for Romney.
On family values, Romney loses even among men by 5 points. This is something to notice. Is the wheels on "family values" finally turning? Has the Republicans' longstanding policies of promoting God, guns, abortion and gays backfiring? I think it is, and I think there are two things responsible for it.

First, as a society, we have advanced enough where we celebrate diversity in culture, religion and sexual orientation, and we think that people ought to be left along with their reproductive choices. The Republicans have majorly lost it on social issues.

Gettin' all up in her business: The Republican party, especially with the advent of the Teabaggers, has stepped up their attack on women. They have not only advanced a record number of anti-abortion bills in the state legislatures, they have moved literally to force the government inside women's vaginas should they seek a perfectly legal procedure. Republicans on national and state levels have gone after things like contraception coverage for women, preferring to hand the decision to use contraception to an employer over a woman. This, as we know, majorly ticked off women (and men) and stripped naked the right wing's extreme social agenda.

Teh gays are coming: Next to women and abortion, the GOP's favorite social pinata is probably gays. So much so that the GOP nominee apparent has promised to re-instate discrimination against gay soldiers despite overwhelming public support for letting gays and lesbians serve openly. Republicans vehemently opposed including hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity under federal law. They even attacked a nominee for the Supreme Court on the stunning disqualifier that some believed her to be a lesbian.

Of course, their favorite pet issue is scaring people about how if gay people are allowed to get married, your husband/wife will leave you to go get gay-married. Evidently, that's not working either, as support for gay marriage has not only risen dramatically but anti-gay feelings have all but disappeared as a wedge issue.
According to the March 2012 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the freedom to marry than a candidate who opposes, with a full 79 percent saying that they prefer a candidate who supports marriage or that they would not care whether a candidate supported it. Obama 2008 voters are eight times as likely to support a pro-marriage candidate. And Independents are twice as likely to vote for a candidate in favor of the freedom to marry.
Despite $10,000 donations to hate groups from the GOP nominee apparent, it seems, that the movement is in favor of equal rights under the law and for equal treatment of everyone. Go figure.

GOP's God problem: While Americans are a religious people, it seems that we don't like God shoved down our throats. We definitely don't like the government dictating our religious practices, and we abhor giving away our personal moral decisions to religious or any other employers.

In other words, the same social issues that worked so well for the GOP as wedge issues in the past are now working against them thanks in part to their extremism and in even greater part to the advancement of the United States into the 21st century.

The second part of why the GOP's culture wars seem to be backfiring is, believe it or not, economics. That is to say that Americans are beginning to connect their economic interest to the family values. We seem to finally be arriving at the place where "family values" are no longer a narrow construct of the male-headed traditional family. Family values, especially for women, now include the role of government in making the lives of families better. That means people are looking to their leaders to display their family values by actually supporting families and children.

That means equal pay for women. That means expanding the children's health insurance program. That means providing more school lunches for needy children. That means providing health care for people who cannot afford it, and making it easier to obtain health care for those who can barely pay their premiums. It means providing assistance for students, including loans and grants.

And, in no less part, it means believing in the American family. That means building a country in which our individual freedoms are sustained by shared responsibility for one another - a country in which the common good is a family value. One ought not be shocked that the American people do not see a fighting for a 14% tax rate for the Mitt Romneys of the world while middle class Americans pay about double that rate as a family value. One ought not gasp that most people do not see literally stealing food from hundreds of hungry children and families in order give tax breaks to millionaires as a family value.

An American family also demands the embrace of the quintessential American character of e pluribus unum. Out of many, one. In other words, diversity. American family values no longer include "self-deportation" of children who were brought here through no fault of their own and grew up every bit as American as every other child in this country. Our family values are about improving our public schools for every child - whether they come from the wealthiest neighborhoods or the poorest. It's about rejecting racial profiling, religious dogmatism, artificial "gender roles," and heterosexist conformist norms. America has no race, but Americans are of all races. We are black, white, brown, yellow, red, gay, straight, men, women, transpeople, Christians, Jews, Muslims, non-theists, Hindus, rich, poor and everything else. Out of many, we are one.

But a party that has built its electoral strengths over the past half century based on dividing people and telling one group that another is to blame for the lot in their life cannot embrace this true sense of the American family - and thus American family values - so easily. Their "family values" are based on dogma, narrow-mindedness, and low-effort thinking. That's why their take on defending what they consider to be the American culture is a war, rather than an exchange. While the GOP's culture wars are based on protecting the privilege of the few, America is moving past it to the interconnected nature of all.

And that is how the culture wars are turning on the GOP.