Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

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The GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance”

Colin Powell, Secretary of State.

Colin Powell, Secretary of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Sunday morning, coffee cup in hand, I watched former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell on Meet the Press.   After questioning General Powell about the controversial appointment of Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense, David Gregory, the moderator of Meet the Press, asked General Powell a titillating question. Gregory wanted to know if Powell is still a Republican. I suppose the question was prompted by Republican wannabes – Santorum, Bachmann, Paul, Cain, Romney, Gingrich, etc. – being too far to the right politically, being out of touch with the people who are our country and exhibiting an almost mean streak toward much of America. The General’s reply was nothing short of amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, General Powell, although endorsing Barrack Obama in the past two elections, replied that he’s a “Moderate Republican”.  But, his further answer to Gregory’s question on network television for the entire country to hear, had been what many Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, had been thinking and saying for some time now. General Powell summed up the phenomena we witnessed during the election by saying there’s a “dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the [Republican] Party” and some in the party “look down on minorities”. http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/13/16491040-powell-champions-hagel-as-defense-secretary-and-rips-some-republicans?lite

General Powell’s observation was spot on. The Republican Party leaders in the last election sent a clear signal that their strategy was to garner the Christian, white, male and wealthy vote, as if that demographic was large enough to win the election. I wondered in what universe they were living. Their intolerance was blatant and it was aimed at the intolerant in our society – no small number. Remember,

  • Romney’s “there are 47% [of the people] who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2gvY2wqI7M“;
  • Romney surrogate former New Hampshire Governor John Sunnunu’s comment that President Obama, our first Black President, is “lazy and detached” and, when asked to rethink, Sunnunu added, “lazy and disengaged”, http://thehill.com/video/campaign/260321-romney-surrogate-sununu-calls-obama-lazy; or
  • Paul Ryan’s attempt to include in legislation a distinction between “forcible rape” and some other type of rape, whatever that might be; Todd Akin’s (R. candidate for Senate from Mo.) “legitimate rape” controversy; and Rep. Roger Rivard’s (R. WI. 75th) “some girls, they rape so easy” comment.

The intolerance is etched in our minds, because the Republican Party’s failure to put forward a candidate that understood who we are individually and who we are as a country defaulted the election to President Obama. The vibrancy of our two-party political system is the engine that drives our democracy. The lesson learned from the 2012 election is that a “dark vein of intolerance” is not a winning strategy.  Our country is diverse. That’s a fact. The Republican Party must radically change if it’s going to survive, much less win an election. Our democracy depends on it.

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