The soundbite you’ll keep hearing out of Meghan McCain’s speech in front of the Log Cabin Republicans is that “old school Republicans” are “scared shitless” of what the future holds for the conservative party. Her quotable snippet has already been repeated by the mainstream media, gay media, and gay websites. It’s laughable that nobody is challenging her assumption.
For all her do-gooding cheer and Twitter-friendly verbiage, McCain’s arguments — the one with Laura Ingraham aside — often fall flat. We’ve previously agreed with her sentiments (i.e. a party that supposedly promotes small government shouldn’t be proselytizing in the bedroom), but the daughter of fallen presidential candidate John may be as out of touch with the GOP as she accuses them of being with American culture.
Speaking at LCR’s annual convention on Saturday in Washington D.C., McCain told the crowd: “I believe most of our nation wants our nation to succeed. I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes. There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being ‘more’ conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become. They just want to wait for the other side to be perceived as worse than us. I think we’re seeing a war brewing in the Republican party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past. I believe most people are ready to move on to that future.”
While the GOP may have some legwork ahead to get up to speed with Web 2.0, its core strategy and agenda in American politics and culture remains as true, and as powerful, as ever. Yes, Barack Obama is in the White House. Yes, the Congress and Senate are controlled by Democrats. But McCain fails to recognize those phenomenon are not simply because America’s culture is changing, but because the Bush administration and anyone connected to it so bungled the American Dream over the last eight years, anything that was not Bush became preferable.
This won’t last.
And even if it does, we shouldn’t, at this moment, expect it to. Obama and the Democrats have four years, and possibly eight, to make their case that their way is the right way. But young McCain is silly to think the rest of America will rally behind progressive causes simply because that’s what’s en vogue right now.
A large, voting sect of America still believes in “traditional values,” an umbrella term for core conservatism. They hate the president. They think Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank need to exist stage left. And they don’t see what was wrong with Bobby Jindal’s rebuttal speech. These people are invisible to McCain, but not to elected officials or those hoping to enter office.
Back at the LCR convention, McCain continued: “We know a party that was thriving at one point on a few singular issues cannot see long term success. Even worse, we’ve seen how it has contributed to some serious problems in our nation and world. Let me blunt, you can’t assume you’re electing the right leaders to handle all the problems facing our nation when you make your choice based on one issue. More and more people are finally getting that.”
Alas, “more and more” is not a concrete data point. While it could be argued each successive generation grows a little more tolerant, a little more progressive, a little more liberal, it could also be argued Red America grows a little stronger, a little more resolvent, and a little more influential. Parse the numbers a certain way, you’re bound to get the result you’re looking for. Which is exactly what McCain is doing. To her own, and her cause’s, peril.
We can’t fault the girl for trying. But it’s McCain’s brand of passive ignorance that lets us stand SHOCKED by the passage of Prop 8.
McCain’s full LCR speech follows.