The Trouble with W: Bush Junior's Frightful Legacy for the Republican Party
"Did you really think that would work?"
Vicky's question stung Roger. Until about five seconds ago, the answer had been a resounding yes.
"Honestly, I thought it's what you wanted."
"Roger, you don't just invent an entirely new persona just so you can claim to be the exact opposite of my ex-boyfriend. The truth was Darryl and I generally agreed on a lot of things. We were compatible, we had intelligent conversations, and we enjoyed getting outside and exploring the city together. He treated me well but in the end we just grew apart. For you to actively choose to do everything that Darryl didn't do shows me that you have no idea how to court a woman."
Roger put his head down. "No, you're right," he said. "I over did it a little."
"You overdid it by A LOT! I mean, jeeze Roger, you literally did the exact opposite of everything Darryl and I did. Instead of doing things outdoors, we stayed inside. Instead of having deep conversations you insisted upon telling juvenile jokes. Instead of going to reasonably priced restaurants and occasionally getting fast food you insisted we go to high-end restaurants. Instead of communicating about our hopes, fears, and aspirations you would opt to not respond because that was 'way too deep to think about'. Darryl wasn't perfect, but at least he considered who I was as a person."
Roger shuffled his feet. "I know. I know. You're right. I screwed up. I tried to be someone I'm not because I thought that what you wanted. I misjudged you. Please Vicky, give me another chance. The person I pretended to me, that's not me. Let me prove it to you."
"I'm sorry, Roger. I just can't. I don't know who the real you even is. And I'm not going to waste my good years trying to find out the answer to that question. Goodbye, Roger."
Believe it or not, the above theatrical piece actually serves a purpose. That purpose is to represent a real-life scenario brought forth by a major news publication this past week. Last Friday, Mother Jones Magazine wrote up an interesting piece detailing George W. Bush's legacy. Mother Jones argues that it may not be two unpaid wars, a crashing of the world economy, tax cuts that extrapolated income inequality, or even an attack on domestic soil that may be W's legacy. No, what George W. Bush's legacy very well could be is shown in one chart below:
As you can see, George W. Bush ended up losing an entire generation of young voters to the Democratic Party. Yes, he won two elections, but in doing so he alienated future generations and essentially made it virtually impossible for Republicans to be competitive in national elections, assuming that Democrats take advantage of this fact and get people to the polls. Millennials now overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party and they are currently at the age range where they are starting to raise their own families. Republicans realize this and yet have failed, time and time again, to prevent prominent party leaders from alienating millennials with their antiquated views on society.
The Pew research poll from which the Mother Jones article is derived should serve as a basic primer for every single modern-day Republican. Instead of Dr. Seuss, the Pew poll itself should be the required reading for every single person attending last week's guns, God, and glory festival at CPAC. If Republicans had actually read it, they would have learned a few things about millennials such as the fact that they are mostly independent voters, nearly 1/3 of them are not religiously affiliated, they delay marriage, they are racially diverse, and they support gay rights, just to name a few.
The problem with Republicans today is that they have become the political equivalent of Roger in our little story. They have literally taken everything that Darryl (Democrats) have stood for and have done the exact opposite to try and woo Vicky (voters). The problem with this strategy is that it goes against every single piece of data on millennials and only serves to further alienate the party. Democrats support gay rights, are against voting suppression, support a woman's right to choose, believe is social safety nets for those in need, believe that health care should be a universal right, believe man influences climate change, and believe that there should be sensible gun control in this country. All these convictions reflect the values of millennials. All of these convictions are overwhelmingly opposed by the Republican Party.
For myself, I can say firsthand that the Republican Party is doing a bang up job in alienating my generation. I grew up in one traditional "toss-up" state and then spent six years in what has recently become another "toss-up" state. Despite this, I can say that roughly 85% of my friends do not identify themselves as Republicans. As millennials, we wonder why women are still fighting battles the Supreme Court decided 40 years ago. As millennials, we wonder why our gay friends' natural love for each other makes them second-class citizens in 33 states. As millennials, we wonder why 3% of climate scientists are even being considered as part of the national conversation about renewable energy options in this country. As millennials, we wonder why it's easier to buy a gun if you're white than to vote if you're non-white. And as millennials, we wonder why giving our fellow citizens the opportunity to purchase affordable health care for the first time in their lives is worth an attempt to defund a law 52 times.
There was a time where very little policy separated the two main political parties in this country. That time is long gone. Republicans have jumped the shark, and it is literally going to cost them the presidency for the foreseeable future. Not only are millennials having children, but the country is browning (Ann Coulter gasp of horror!) and even beloved Texas has a chance to turn blue in the next decade thanks to utter inaction by House Republicans to even take up the current immigration bill. As Bill Maher once succinctly said, "The Republicans have the same problems as The Beach Boys. Their fans are dying." Republican "re-branding" efforts to help reach out to millennials have done nothing to help restore the damaged reputation of the party. For whatever reason, the Republican Party itself doesn't even seem to want to make the effort to include a broader coalition moving to 2016 and beyond despite these sobering new realizations.
For all this, they have George W. Bush to thank.
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