Dressing up the elephant

Posted on 05 Apr 2013 at 10:45am

Soul-searching post-election report recommends GOP reach out to minority groups, including gays, but don’t expect it to actually happen

Haberman-Hardy-My grandfather was the first to impart this rural wisdom to me: “You can dress up a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

I believe he was using it in reference to a new model automobile from Studebaker. He was not a fan of the merger of Studebaker and Packard, and his intuition was right.

The pig was the “Lark” and it was one of the last cars produced by the company.

The Lark was a compact car that was intended to push the company back into the ranks of the other Detroit auto giants. It was too little, too late.

Today, the expression might well be, “You can dress up an elephant, but it’s still an elephant.”

I am referring to the GOP’s latest soul-searching report, which revealed that the public finds the Republican Party “scary,” “narrow-minded” and “out of touch.”

The GOP is viewed as a party of “stuffy old men,” and that is a direct quote from their research.

The Republicans have come to the realization that the electorate is growing younger every day and their base is dying off.

In the party’s own report they note, “It is no wonder that Republican policies can seem stale; they are very nearly identical to those offered up by the party more than 30 years ago.

For Republicans to design an agenda that applies to the conditions of 1980 is as if Ronald Reagan designed his agenda for conditions that existed in the Truman years.”

The proposed solution? Reach out to African-Americans, Hispanics and, of all people, “gays.”

The report, called the Growth and Opportunity Project, reads more like a Democratic organizers handbook than something from the Republican Party.

Indeed, many of the ideas included in the report as to the “messaging” needed to attract the younger demographic are actually progressive ideas.

Another startling quote from the report:

“We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

That one left me stunned.

The idea that the GOP would actually do anything to prevent the good-old-boy network from lining their pockets with Golden Parachutes is absolutely laughable. Remember the prime contributors to the GOP are big businesses, and at the helm of those businesses are guys who will do anything to keep their wealth — company be damned.

Equally startling is this one: “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be. If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”

Inclusivity is the absolute opposite of the current GOP attitude.

The whole report is filled with this kind of wisdom, and though I sincerely believe enacting the suggested changes would be best for the GOP and the country’s two-party system, I think the writers are living in an academic fantasy world.

Already voices from the faithful are sabotaging any efforts to enact these suggestions. With members like our own Texas Sen. Ted Cruz seen as the new vanguard of the party, I would say this report will be used as kindling for the next GOP barbeque fundraiser.

It would seem that the Republican Party may not even try to dress itself up and instead opt for being the lumbering slow beast of its mascot — its huge feet crushing any hint at change and assuring that it will continue its march backward in time.

No matter how they try, it’s still an elephant.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 5, 2013.

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