Soon the GOP will claim it always supported gay marriage

For a party that blathers on about individuality and freedom, the Republican party does a pretty good impression of a Trotskyite splinter group.

There is no external policy debate in the Republican party.  Party policy is infalible by definition, thus the only valid area of criticism is to ask whether the party is being sufficiently effective in getting its message across.

The problem is never the policy itself, only the public relations campaign promoting and defending the policy.

Translating this into the debate over gay marriage, the GOP has always been against marriage equality, therefore the party will always be against marriage equality. Nothing will ever change, except the messaging, and only apostates like David Frum even admit the possibility of change.

Pravda - meaning "Truth" - was the lead Soviet propaganda organ, circa 1961. Martynova Anna / Shutterstock.com

Pravda – meaning “Truth” – was the lead Soviet propaganda organ, circa 1961. Martynova Anna / Shutterstock.com

Lest you mistake this for an ad-hominem attack, it’s a deadly serious problem for any society. The silencing of self-criticism, and the elimination of genuine policy debate, was the principle cause of a number of terrors Europe faced in the last century, and it also was a big help to the illegal wars of George W. Bush. Neither is it a coincidence that Soviet factions took their direction from editorial columns in the party newspaper, and the GOP takes its marching orders from Fox News. When you control the debate, you control the masses.

Supporters of marriage equality were barred from the platform at biggest conservative conference of the year a few weeks ago, CPAC. But only three weeks later, GOP Senator Jeff Flake described as “inevitable” the prospect of a future GOP presidential nominee supporting same-sex marriage. The hidden inner cabal that sets the GOP message-of-the-day must have decided on ‘inevitable’ as the phrase of choice, as Rush Limbaugh used the same word two days earlier.

The manner in which policy is changed also closely resembles the UK Socialist Workers Party. Questioning party policy was grounds for instant expulsion. When policy changes became inevitable, the first step was to declare the issue ‘unimportant’. Only issues that were declared to be unimportant were acceptable topics of debate, a ‘debate’ in which anyone who wanted to be considered ‘solid’ already knew the outcome they were expected to argue for. Debate would not change the outcome of course, that had already been decided. But comrades could win points with the leadership for persuading the more diehard adherents of the old view to switch position, rather than quit the party, or worse, attempt to form their own party.

Depending on the urgency of the need to adopt a new position, the ‘unimportant’ debate might stretch over several years, or be concluded in a few weeks – at which point the purges would begin. Disagreement with official party policy was always tolerated within the Socialist Workers Party, as long as the disagreement was silent. Comrades were not required to actually embrace the new position, so long as they ceased mentioning their support of the old.

The Republican party played the same trick with segregation and the civil rights movement. Strom Thurmond and Jessie Helms were unrepentant racists to their dying breath, and neither gave up an opportunity to put their bigotry into action. Neither actually repudiated their racist views, but they did stop (blatantly) promoting them, and they would not correct others who falsely claimed that their views had changed.

The GOP just entered the second ‘purge’ phase on immigration reform last week, when Don Young was slapped down by Speaker Boehner after the Republican House member used the term ‘wetbacks’ to refer to Latinos in an interview. In that particular case, the offense was sufficiently egregious that it demanded some sort of rebuke from the Speaker’s office. The fact that it came from the Speaker himself, rather than a spokesperson, is significant.

The third and final phase in a policy reversal is denial. The party insists that the repudiated policy never existed, was never official party policy, or was even the policy of their opponents. From time to time, the GOP tries to claim the mantle of being the standards bearer for civil rights, from Lincoln to Eisenhower. This being to avoid the unfortunate truth that the modern GOP is the party of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, of persuading segregationists like Helms and Thurmond to switch party and make the GOP the party of continuing racism. Attempts to continue to make this case at CPAC this year did not go well.

All of which might sound good for supporters of marriage equality, and if that is all that you are interested in, so it is. Rolling back the tide of GOP bigotry will still take quite a few years, but everyone knows what the eventual outcome is going to be – it is now “inevitable”.

That is the good news.  The bad news is that one of the only two major parties in the US follows the organizing principles of a totalitarian state. Like the UK Socialist Worker’s Party, the US Republican Party talks at great length about freedom and justice. But the way the parties manage their internal affairs gives the lie to their lofty rhetoric, and reveals a true intent that cannot be masked by even the best marketers on the planet.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Dodson/1406670076 David Dodson

    The control the parties have over the political process is unconstitutional. The constitution declares that states have the right to elect their representative and hold their elections when and how they see fit. Currently, the parties have tried to disenfranchise entire states because they moved their primary election dates to earlier in the calendar.

  • http://twitter.com/kageninz Bro

    “So over time the GOP has steadily lost support and the Democrats have a supermajority.”

    Independent Redistricting helped. Only about 30% of the state are registered GOP, and we finally have a legislature that reflects that. They’re mostly centered around Orange County and the Central valley, but the valley folks are the vocal fringe that launched Rush Limbaugh’s career.

    I worry it’ll be short lived. The CA Democrats aren’t taking much initiative, Gerry Brown is operating closer to center-right than in the past, and the door is closing fast, as special elections will replace a few Dems that are moving to other appointments. A lot of analysts predict gridlock coming back soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Luxenberg/1165501267 Marc Luxenberg

    The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held. Instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. Bertrand Russell

  • MyrddinWilt

    It is my post, not John’s and I think there is a very big difference here.

    Since the rise of Fox News the GOP has had absolutely no room for any internal debate other than how to get the message across and what proof points best prove the infallibility of the party message.

    Frum voiced a minor disagreement over the tactics opposing Obamacare and was immediately sacked from his job and banned for life from the conservative movement. That is the ‘Axis of Evil’ guy. Even he can’t make the slightest dissent from the party line without retaliation.

    Until a few weeks ago it was the same penalty for supporting same sex marriage. It is still the penalty for acknowledging the fact of strong scientific evidence for man made climate change and every other issue.

    Does anyone really think Ann Coulter is genuinely an anti-abortion fanatic? I bet that at least two of those right wing shock Janes has had at least one. They toe the party line because that is what punches their meal ticket.

    There is nothing like that in the progressive movement and to claim that there is is itself rather self-deceiving. The GOP has no place for anyone who is not prepared to back whatever the Kochs and the Adelsons pay it to say.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    ROTFL

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “America’s getting really gay.” YEA! and we’re coming for you. On second thought you are probably safe. We don’t do under bridges, Momma’s basement and culverts, except for mercy cases.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ve been saying for a while now that the GOP has become a party beholden to dogma, and watch out for anyone who dares to stray. A cursory look at their voting records in Congress alone is astounding for its party discipline, even from supposedly ‘moderate’ Republican members.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Republicans are getting really bigoted.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Russ is the one who needs to get off his high horse. John has identified an actual difference between the way the parties function. There’s a reason for the old joke, “I don’t belong to an organized political party; I’m a Democrat.” The Democratic Party has a long history of open divisions, disagreements, and debates. Moments of party unity are rare.

    The GOP, in contrast, marches in lockstep, until its masters declare a new position, and then it resumes marching in lockstep to the new position.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    And likely a Birther and a Tea Bagger as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/monoceros.forth Monoceros Forth

    “Very very soon, it will be unforgiveable for any Democrat to refuse to openly support same-sex marriage, for example.”

    It’s always the bigots who deserve the most tolerance, isn’t it?

  • Indigo

    ¡Olé!

  • citizen_spot

    Hell, they even deny saying things despite video showing them say the very thing they deny.

  • jomicur

    Not always, John. I remember the days of LBJ, who was an absolute master at enforcing party discipline. He even used to go to Capitol Hill personally, grab recalcitrant Democrats by the lapels and tell them that if they didn’t vote for the party’s legislation he’d never authorize another dollar of federal money for their districts. That’s pretty much the way he got both Medicare and the Civil Rights Act passed. Mastering that kind of discipline used to be essential for Democratic party leaders. These days all it takes is fealty to the monied class, so we end up with a Republican-in-sheep’s-clothing like Obama in the White House.

  • jomicur

    If America’s getting really gay, you better hope we’ll treat straight bigots like you better than you’ve always treated us.

  • jomicur

    “If you vote, you only encourage them.” –Gore Vidal

  • unclemike

    Russ, I think the difference is that Dems don’t ignore or deny their own history or journey to where they are now. Repubs consistently deny they were ever against/for something.

  • FLL

    I’ll try to address both of your pet peeves. I may live in Fort Lauderdale now, but I’m originally from Chicago. I clearly remember going to gay pride parades in Chicago during the early 1990s. You probably would think that you would see few, if any, straight couples at those gay pride parades during the 1990s, let alone straight couples with their young children. If that is your guess, you would be right… with one exception–Mexicans. The only straight couples that would show up at Chicago’s gay pride parades during the 1990s in any significant numbers were Mexican-Americans, many even bringing their young children with them.

    I guess Mexican society doesn’t sit well with you, does it? Why should it? Mexico eliminated all of its sodomy laws and made consenting gay sex legal in 1871, as opposed to the U.S., which did the same in 2003. That’s a difference of 132 years. That’s not to mention that support for gay rights is higher among Mexican-Americans than any other demographic (perhaps tying with Jewish Americans). Don’t like Mexicans? Hey, douchebag, who cares?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    That was my thought too, was trying to figure out a title for the post that worked with that

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    “America’s getting really gay.” – from your mouth to God’s Gucci pumps.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Right, Look at the vote on the stimulus – every Republican in the entire congress, save 3, voted against it. The Dems as always were here and there. Same on Obamacare.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    It’s not my post, but… the GOP has always been much better at party and message discipline than Democrats. It is the way they function. Up until the Teabagger era – now they’re suddenly finding their conservatives, who run the party, refusing to shut up.

  • FLL

    From your comment: “EVERY party has a “party line” and enforces it among its members.”

    After a comment like that, you characterize the blogger’s post as a “facile analysis”? No, I don’t think every political party in the world has equivalent degrees of enforcing agreement and suppressing dissent among its members. That should be obvious, but I guess it’s not obvious to you. Your comment takes false equivalence to a laughable extreme. All you have to do to disprove your suggestion is examine the vote totals in the House of Representative. It’s very common for the House Republicans to vote in support of the Republican leadership’s position as a 100% block, without a single dissenting vote. It’s rather difficult to find that on the Democratic side because… well, you know… because Democrats feel much freer to vote as an individual legislator, even though it might not be the same position as the Democratic leadership. And you’re telling me that you don’t understand that? You sound like you’re insulated from the rest of the world. I’m reminded of a line from one of the Marx Brothers movies:

    Margaret Dumont: “I’ve never been so insulted!”

    Groucho Marx: “You should get around more.”

  • Bill_Perdue

    Both the Democrat and Republican parties lack any semblance of internal democracy.

    Democracy would be the election of candidates based on an internal debate about their political ideas and that never happens. Primary campaigns are above all exercises in attempts to fool the public and use meaningless phrases like ‘Hope and Change’. The problem is that there never is any kind of change. Since the Betrayal of 1877 we’ve been offered one lying employee of the ruling classes after another, each claiming to be the lesser evil.

    No such creature exists. It’s as if Obama and his Republican opponents were cut from cookie cutter.

    All three and scabs and unions busters and Obama is the worst of them. H Clinton would be no better.

    All three are mad dog warmongers who will continue to waste the lives of civilians and GIs alike pursuing the nightmare of US global hegemony. H Clinton would be no better.

    All three would gut the Bill of Rights and again, Obama is the worst. H Clinton would be no better.

    In every election the percentage of qualified voters who understand the shell game and refuse to participate is between one third and one half. They’re the smart ones.

  • nicho

    Wow, racist and a homophobe. Let me guess, Republican?

  • nicho

    You might possibly have something to say, but your snark and ad hominem attack got in the way.

  • Russ

    Yeah but John, you’re being very dishonest with this facile analysis. EVERY party has a “party line” and enforces it among its members. A Republican could, just as easily as you did here, write a similar article about the same thing that happens in the Democratic party. Very very soon, it will be unforgiveable for any Democrat to refuse to openly support same-sex marriage, for example.
    So don’t preen yourself so much on your high, noble moral virtue: all humans and all parties, whether right, left, or center, have a plank that must be walked very carefully – or else over the side you go.

  • Abe

    Who cares, if illegal aliens are given citizenship, Democrats might as well abolish elections, because Republicans won’t stand a chance again them.
    America’s getting really gay.

  • Indigo

    We have always been allied with Oceania.

  • MyrddinWilt

    If the libertarian wing of the party wins the intra-party fight going on then they would have a quasi-legitimate claim. Only Ron Paul was a racist, homophobic bigot who opposed gay rights like he opposed civil rights and his son is desperately avoiding taking a stance.

    Seems that the ‘libertarians’ in the GOP only take principles fearless stands when they are cost free. But I don’t think they are going to be the faction that wins.

    The Tea Party will keep the GOP unelectable by forcing primary candidates to take hard right views. The gerrymandering insulates 80% of GOP house members from the risk of losing a general election so it is the primary they fear. Meanwhile there will be a steady attrition in GOP support nationally until the GOP falls to just a little above 40% national support at which point the house gerrymandering scheme will collapse.

    That has already happened in California. The supermajority budget requirement allowed the GOP to block budgets with 40% of the seats. So over time the GOP has steadily lost support and the Democrats have a supermajority.

    The reason the Koch bros are willing to pay for all this is that forcing the GOP to move to the hard right allows the Democrats to guarantee election by moving to the center-right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bjohnm John Masters

    Of course they will make that claim. In five to seven years, when we’ve had equal marriage for a couple of years, they’ll claim they have always been the party of small government not interfering in people’s personal lives.

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