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Charlie Vignola: New year, new start for the GOP?

Posted: January 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.

 

Well, it’s New Year’s Day — and if I were still a member of the Republican party, as I was back in the ’80s, it couldn’t come fast enough, as I’d be hoping that 2013 would be better for my party than 2012.

For a country that’s supposedly “Center Right,” according to the GOP, it sure seems like America didn’t get the memo.

Recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado and Washington, paving the way for more states in the future and the inevitable decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level.

The country finally turned the corner on marriage equality, the civil rights issue of our time, with new laws legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

After 30 years of Republicans insisting that taxes can only go down in America — despite the national debt going up, up, up as a result — the public was finally ready to have an adult conversation about taxes and the fact that they have to be raised for certain Americans in order for our country to meet its growing needs, depriving Republicans of one of their biggest winning issues.

Gun control — political kryptonite for decades thanks to the tireless work of the NRA and their lapdogs in the Republican party — is no longer a third-rail issue in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a result, a plurality of Americans are now demanding common sense gun regulations and a galvanized Democratic Party vows to introduce new legislation to ban assault weapons on the first day of the new Congress.

Even sacred conservative institutions like Fox News and Rassmussen let the GOP faithful down by blowing smoke up their own butts about all of the polls being skewed prior to Election Day, setting Republicans up for the ultimate kick in the cojones when their great white hope Mitt Romney not only lost, but lost huge.

Now we’re about to go over the “Fiscal Cliff” that Republicans themselves created by refusing to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 unless they extorted massive spending cuts, and by forcing the extension of the Bush tax cuts years beyond their scheduled end, all of which has resulted in the stock market plummeting this past week.

So with the debt ceiling reaching its limit in the next few weeks, and America reeling from going off the Fiscal Cliff thanks to the Republicans refusing to extend tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 per year, what will the GOP do for an encore?

Well, according to House Speaker John Boehner, they intend to run the exact same play, vowing to wrest even more spending cuts before they’ll consider raising the debt ceiling again. This means we can all look forward to another political showdown, risking another credit downgrade for America and another stock market tailspin sure to erase trillions of dollars from an already struggling economy.

Remember, folks: the debt ceiling isn’t about new spending — it’s about paying the bills that Congress has already agreed to pay. Not raising the debt ceiling is literally like refusing to make the credit card payments on items you’ve already purchased.

And if the rest of the world sees us as incapable of getting our fiscal house in order for a second time in as many years, what do you think that’ll do to the world’s confidence in the American dollar as a reserve currency and its desire to continue buying our debt, which we absolutely need them to do to keep our own economy running?

Republicans must stop being bewildered every time one of their terrible political decisions is met with scorn and drives down their popularity even further. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the wisdom of forcing women to submit to medically unnecessary trans-vaginal probes if they’re having an abortion, or making it more difficult for people to vote or Utah and Arizona becoming the first states to have official firearms.

The GOP’s big lesson for 2012 is simple: it’s not your marketing, it’s your product. Mitt Romney didn’t cost Republicans the White House and the Senate: the Republican platform did. It’s not just a matter of finding fresh new faces, but finding fresh new ideas to replace the defective old ones.

Look, a majority of the public has flatly rejected trickle-down economics, criminalizing abortion, outlawing marriage equality, scapegoating immigrants and making Christianity the official state religion. The sooner Republicans accept these facts and course-correct for the inexorable headwinds of America’s changing demographics, the sooner they can start winning elections again.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch.

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