It must be obvious to those who read my articles that politically I lean to the right. I’m a libertarian and a conservative. In British elections I vote for the Conservative Party, I have since I was eighteen, most recently in the London mayoral contest for Boris Johnson, a personal hero of mine.
So, if I were an American I would be a Republican, consistent with my conservative principles and my deeply held belief in personal freedom. I could no more vote for the Democrats than I could for the British Labour Party. I consider Barack Obama to be a socialist, a philosophy that I despise, made all the worse by the fact that he is an Ivy League ideologue who understands little of the problems of ordinary Americans.
So, yes, for me it would have to be the Grand Old Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party of free soil, the party of freedom itself. There is a problem here: I’m not sure I would be welcome. You see, I may not fit the profile – I’m young, I’m even-tempered and I’m a woman, not an angry mature male!
Actually, no, that’s not quite true – I am an angry young woman. I was outraged by the recent observations of Representative Todd Akin, running for the US Senate in Missouri, on ‘legitimate rape.’ I could not quite believe that a candidate for the Republican Party, a candidate for major political office, could come out with something so unbelievably crass, an insult to women everywhere, an insult to the victims of rape, a barbarous crime by any standard.
I know that Akin, now busily backtracking, has been condemned for his words by Mitt Romney and other senior figures in the party. But the damage is done. Attention has been taken away from the main issues of the present presidential campaign towards the more regressive shades of Republican opinion. The focus, if you like, is increasingly on a Party unsure of itself, unsure of its constituency and unsure of its future. Is it, I have to ask, a Party unsure of America?
America is changing. Demographically and culturally it is changing. The Republican Party emerged in the 1850s, created by Americans who understood that the nation had to change or die. There would seem to me to be no place in such a movement for the likes of Todd Akin, a backwoodsman so out of touch with the modern world.
But is he a maverick? My concern – and it gives me no pleasure to say this – is that the GOP is starting to mark time, and that the time it is marking is somewhere in the middle of the last century. This, if you like, was the apex of WASP America – White, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. But the wasp no longer stings as it once did. The GOP seems almost afraid of the new American, whether that is Black or Latino.
The electoral machinations in Florida, supposedly designed to prevent fraud, seems to have actively alienated a large portion of the state’s Hispanic community, who perceive it to be a measure in part directed against them. The GOP is even losing support among Cuban Americans, traditionally a highly conservative community, once solid in support for the likes of Ronald Reagan. What on earth do people like this think when they watch the antics of Arizona’s Sheriff Joe “your papers please” Arpaio? Does the Republican Party have an electoral death wish?
Yes, I know, the GOP’s core constituency is among white people, or Anglo-Saxons, as they are referred to in the Romney camp. There are legitimate concerns here and I’m more than a little sympathetic with aspects of the Tea Party platform, at least so far as it touches on personal freedom and the minimising the overweening power of big government.
I’m out of sympathy, though, with those I refer to as the Christian ayatollahs, the fundamentalist wing of American conservatism that seems to have grown stronger and ever more influential, flowing steadily into the mainstream. If European conservatism went in this direction it would, quite frankly, be laughed to death. It’s all very well to make a stand over the issues of the day on the basis of one’s personal Christian morality. The danger is turning a particular form of Christian dogmatics into practical politics. It simply does not work.
Suspicion of sections of the wider community, a narrow and narrowing vision of the future, too great an emphasis on a particular code of ethics, turning in ever decreasing racial and ethnic circles, these are the factors that may eventually lead the Elephant to the graveyard. It’s not a prospect I welcome.
Barack Obama is not just a bad president; he’s an atrocious one, the James Buchanan of the modem age, a Nero who fiddles as the city burns. The fact that so many Americans may vote for him because they feel unwelcome elsewhere is a depressing thought. It certainly depresses me.