Exhibit 20.3

From this interview with Jeb Bush:

Does the [Republican] party need to change or de-emphasize its positions on abortion or gay marriage?
No. No, I think those are important issues to not shy away from. And I don't think that's the reason why suburban voters have migrated to the Democrats. I think it's the economic issues. We have not been able to explain why these timeless conservative principles matter in 2009.

So basically Jeb Bush was asked if he was ever going to be president and answered, "No."

My issue is not with his specific policy positions--for what it's worth, strategically I don't think there's much point in Republicans capitulating on abortion and forward thinking politicians on the right should take a libertarian position toward gay marriage--but with his statement that economic issues are why these voters have migrated to the left. If Jeb Bush actually believes that, he's a moron. And since he and almost everyone else who claims to speak for the Republican party actually does seem to believe this, I think they may have finally reached the nadir. At this point, they've dug so far, for so long beneath the real world it's likely that a generation's eyes will never readjust to the light.

These suburban voters he thinks he knows have spent the last decade buying their furniture at Pottery Barn and being told they need to shop at Whole Foods. They've bought houses with granite countertops in subdivisions that have names and home owners association fees. They spent the affluent years that recently ended driven--whether naturally or as the result of good marketing--toward a kind of worldly sophistication. Now, it's obviously a very shallow sophistication, but I think it's important to realize that this isn't 1970s Orange County we're talking about anymore. These suburban dwellers who used to be the most reliable Republican voters because they were financially secure, white, and were afraid someone was going to take their swimming pools away are now people who worry about the environment, work and live among (or at least watch on the television) all sorts of minority families (including gay ones), and believe shopping at Bed, Bath, & Beyond instead of Wal-Mart somehow constitutes an acceptable value system.

They eat humus.

Whatever world Jeb Bush is imagining when he talks about middle-class voters does not account for humus. When these people voted for Republicans, they knew no gay people, drove Cadillacs, and cooked out of a Betty Crocker cookbook. They were capital-A Americans and this was their power. But the desire for isolation that drove them to the suburbs is A) no longer possible and B) out of style. Now, these voters are demographically diverse, live in cities, and have the benefit of cable television and the Internet. Their world is immeasurably bigger than what Mr. Bush remembers (or imagines).

They are not going to unlearn the knowledge they've gained. And it is both boomers and affluent Gen-Xers here. They want good design, they want good food, they want good lives. Their primary desire seems to be comfort and there's nothing less comfortable than hate. Hate means wars, it means pro-ignorance, it means attacking people they share a cul de sac with. And here's the part where the former governor should pay attention: the hatred section of the Republican party's platform makes them more uncomfortable than the economic wing of the Democratic pary's platform. It's not even close. Hell, after the last administration, the Democrats were nearly the pro-wealth party for economic reasons alone last election (though that party is probably over).

So the idea that economics alone can bring these people back is insane. Many are already economically incentivized to favor the Republicans (or think they are). What else can you do? Sure, being a little bit competent and actually governing by the principles the party expounds would help, but what's done is done.

These suburban voters are educated and successful and it would take some truly radical economic policies to get them to overlook the fact that it's acceptable for Republican presidential candidates to raise their hands and say they don't believe in evolution (I'll do us all a favor and not even talk about Sarah Palin). And no, returning tax rates to where they were under Reagan does not count as radical or 'socialism' or whatever boogeyman they want to throw out there.

Jeb Bush and Michael Steele and Mike Huckabee need to learn something from the advantage they've enjoyed among rural voters who vote against their economic self-interest when they vote Republican but do because of God or guns or whatever. For exactly the same reasons--though with opposite value systems--suburban voters will willingly and gladly vote for the candidate that might tax them more if it means voting for the world they want to live in. They're picking Bed, Bath, & Beyond over Wal-Mart again, and if you think rolling back prices alone is going to bring those voters back, you don't have any business running a party let alone a country.

Through more diverse and nuanced media and society's inevitable and consistent movement toward a more permissive culture, we've entered a period where--with the exception of abortion--social issues are going to be table stakes for a majority of these voters. If you can't pass a certain threshold of tolerance, you aren't going to get their votes. No matter how "timeless" these conservative "principles" are, being the anti-science, -gay, -people of color, -sex education, etc. party is going to take your name off the ballot for these voters. They aren't single-issue voters as much as they are voters who demand a base-level of decency or, at the least, an understanding of and respect for contemporary values.

But, hey, things will change. Maybe the economy stays bad or terrorism becomes a more important issue again and old-school Republicans like Jeb Bush get lucky. Maybe they can sell deficits as an evil, people will forget who took us away from a balanced budget, and these voters will again worry about protecting their own wealth. Maybe immigration can find a foothold and casual racism drives people to the right. Despite the monolithic portrait I'm painting, these highly stereotypical voters are only going to slightly favor one party over the other anyway. There will certainly be Republican presidents and congresses again. But they're not going to come soon or be led by people like Jeb Bush unless they take off the blinders and learn from the last election. For god's sake, the Republicans just got done proving they can't run a country, why do they think they can stop time?

It goes without saying, but among all voters the demographics only get much, much worse as time goes by. And as voters in the next 10-20 years don't remember Ronald Reagan, hate George W. Bush, and aren't inclined to vote for a 1950s value system that isn't coming back organically, how exactly is an economic philosophy that hasn't exactly been proven to work going to change their minds?

I'm no expert, but it seems to me the obvious direction for the right is becoming socially libertarian as opposed to socially liberal (but more or less ending up in the same place) and articulating that as a philosophical difference that traces itself to the earliest days of the country and informs every aspect of their platform (small government, isolationist, socially permissive, personal responsibility, religious freedoms [but for everyone] etc.) It certainly doesn't mean listening to nutjobs like Ron Paul, but in the right hands I think the Republicans could have a strong and simple message that places them squarely in the 21st century. The left's philosophy will be messy by definition, and the right should take advantage by offering something coherent and clean. They'd still have problems with health care and the environment and religious conservatives would complain, but those voters are the ones holding the party back anyway. Cut them loose and they'll come back. What you don't do is change nothing or follow reactionaries like Glenn Beck or root for the country to fail.

What you don't do is think what won in 1980 can win in 2012.

And on a personal level, what you shouldn't do is write about politics. Damn it. I just can't quit you, self-righteousness.

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