Discover more from The Bulwark
No Sex, Please. We’re Republicans.
Or, how to lose the culture war.
On Wednesday the Senate advanced a bill to protect gay marriage rights by a vote of 62-37 — with 12 GOP senators joining Democrats to write protections into federal law.
The vote comes the day after right-wing influencer and Real Man of Political Genius Ben Shapiro declared: “If you vote for the idea that society has an obligation to recognize male-male or female-female dyads in the same way that society has to recognize male-female, you should not be in the Republican Party.”
In theory, that means that at least a dozen Republican senators — and probably several dozen House Republicans — ought to be excommunicated. And, under the Shapiro Rule, several million Republican-leaning voters also ought to be shown the door, which seems an odd strategy for a political party struggling to figure out how to win elections.
But maybe, just maybe, that’s part of the GOP’s problem.
Check out this NYT chart on the radical transformation of public opinion on the issue of gay marriage. More than 7 in 10 Americans — including a majority of Republicans — think “marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.”
How much has the ground shifted? Even the Church of Latter Day Saints — the Mormons — is now on board with the gay marriage legislation.
But Shapiro insists that anyone who agrees with 71 percent of Americans “should not be in the Republican party.”
Good luck with that.
All of this comes as right-wing commentators scrabble through the detritus of last week’s elections, and have concluded that the real problem was … cat-owning single women. Or as Andrew Torba, of the far-right media site Gab, called them: “the Godless unmarried whores of Babylon” who vote for Democrats “so they can continue to slaughter their children.”
And, of course, this guy:
Cathy Young noted earlier this week that blaming the single ladies had become a popular narrative among right-wing commentators who are coping with their various stages of grief.
The Daily Caller weighed in with a headline lamenting, “Are lonely wine Karens ruining our country?” And Fox News host Jesse Watters discovered another terrible problem: It’s bad enough that all those liberal single women vote, but they’re also working as teachers and poisoning the minds of impressionable kiddies.
But the Daily Caller did helpfully recall the observation made by Ohio Senator-elect J.D. Vance in July 2021 that “we are effectively run in this country—via the Democrats, via our corporate oligarchs—by a bunch of childless cat ladies who are miserable at their own lives and the choices that they’ve made, and so they want to make the rest of the country miserable too.”
I mention all of this as the background for my conversation yesterday with David Corn about the GOP and sex.
David Corn: What I find interesting, and I'm happy to see them do this, is that a lot of MAGA Republicans — the Charlie Kirks of the world, the Steve Bannons —are out there saying the real problem is that young, single women voted for Democrats. And they depict them as young, bitter, angry, single women — because they're not married.
Charlie Sykes: “Cat-owning skanks.” Yeah, that's a winning message.
Corn: And it's like well, you told them that they can't control their own bodies. And listen, most people I know enjoy sex. When we talk about abortion, we never talk about sex: The reason people get abortions is because they engage in sex for non-procreative reasons, and they like doing that. And you're coming along saying, ‘No, you can't.’ You're also telling men, ‘If this happens, you're going to be on the hook.’ Right? So, it's in some ways, a bit of a war on sex. And so, if you're young and single, and you want to do that, and you want to have control of your body — to come out and say, ‘You're just a bitter skank’ is not a winning message.
Corn: And I'm saying that Democrats should be saying, ‘Keep up with that — keep doing that. Label these young women stupid, they don't understand things, and they’re just driven by all the worst emotions, those emotional women. That's great.’
Corn: But... I’ve been mildly surprised that this is where so much of MAGA is landing. And so, the numbers [of young voters] are really high and if the more sophisticated exit polls or analyses show that ... that's the case with young people, it is a big problem for Republicans. Because there's a lot of pre-existing academic research showing that whoever you vote for initially is who you tie yourself to for much of the rest of your life.”
Sykes: Yeah, long term, it's bad. Well, there's also a lot of pre-existing academic research showing, as you point out, that people like sex.”
Corn: “I think it's pretty clear. So, the anti-sex, anti-young woman party.”
Sykes: Good luck.
Corn: Go for that.
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It turns out that American Greatness hates… Americans
The Ultra-MAGAs over at American Greatness appear to be going through some things.
Matthew Boose is a Mt. Vernon fellow at the “Center for American Greatness” and a writer at the “Conservative Institute.” And he’s very unhappy with you “Third World” voters.
“Candidate quality?” he asks. “How about voter quality?”
The picture we got from Tuesday is that of a decadent, vegetative electorate easily swayed by platitudes and sentimental appeals, fervently attached to its entitlements… Republicans performed well with married men and women—the people who should be the center of our civic life, while Democrats dominated with unmarried women and the twitchy, nihilist Gen Z.
Again: voter quality.
And it is about to get worse, because you know what voters will look like in a few years.
The GOP’s dejection is understandable. If the party can’t score a “red wave” under these conditions, then when will they ever? Those dispirited by the outcome should take another dose of reality and consider what elections will look like after another 10 or 15 years of mass immigration have taken their toll. It’s not a pretty picture.
Not especially subtle is it?
Senate GOP to Trump: F— Off
DJT demanded Mitch McConnell’s head on a plate. Instead:
Mitch McConnell handily dispatched Rick Scott in a Wednesday contest for Senate Republican leader, beating back his first challenger and cementing a ninth term running the Senate GOP.
The Kentuckian prevailed over Scott (R-Fla.), 37-10, in a battle for Senate minority leader in the next Congress.
R.I.P. Michael Gerson
Michael was a mensch, and we will miss him greatly. Via the Wapo:
Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who helped craft messages of grief and resolve after 9/11, then explored conservative politics and faith as a Washington Post columnist writing on issues ranging from President Donald Trump’s disruptive grip on the GOP to his own struggles with depression, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Washington. He was 58.
The cause of death was complications from cancer, said Peter Wehner, a longtime friend and former colleague.
1. New Depths of Russian Insanity as Putin’s Ukraine Debacle Continues
While Ukrainians celebrated the liberation of Kherson, anti-war Russians were distracted by a much darker story: the posting of an apparent snuff video in which a former fighter with the Wagner mercenary group, a would-be defector to the Ukrainian side, was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer. For Russian dissidents, the gruesome video became a shocking symbol of the barbarism to which Russia’s “new normal” had sunk. Many invoked ISIS, the radical Islamist terror group that had a habit of sharing video recordings of its sadistic executions. It’s “the ISIS-ization of Russia,” said Irina Alleman, a host on Popular Politics, the YouTube channel run by jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team.
The story is indeed horrific; the official and quasi-official reactions make it worse. And, capping two weeks during which Russia’s former president and current deputy chair of the security council asserted that the country is literally at war with Satan while the leading show on national television claimed that Russia’s biggest problem was not enough dictatorship, it starkly illustrates Russia’s descent into a twilight zone that’s part horror movie and part theater of the absurd.
2. Mike Pence’s Brother Wants Him to Run in 2024
Greg Pence, a Trump-endorsed Indiana congressman, would prefer Donald's VP this time around. Joe Perticone in today’s Bulwark:
Asked by The Bulwark if he would support Trump’s campaign—something he did in 2020, a favor Trump repaid by endorsing Pence in his House re-election race this year—Pence quipped, “I’m gonna back my brother.” When asked if his brother is indeed running, Pence paused and said, “I hope so. I would encourage him to.” He would not elaborate on conversations he has had with the former vice president about any 2024 ambitions.
Pence sarcastically added he was “shocked” and “stunned” that Trump announced another presidential campaign.
3. The Diminishing Returns of Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric
Years of negative rhetoric aimed at immigrants and refugees hasn’t changed the public’s positive perception of them: Polls consistently show over 70 percent of Americans believing that immigration is a good thing for the United States. It’s when you get into the details that the issue becomes divisive.
Year after year, a vast majority of Americans continue to say they want a pathway to legalization for immigrants who entered the country illegally years ago but have otherwise obeyed the law, worked, paid taxes, and contributed to society—and a majority of Americans want secure borders, as well. Those two emphases are not mutually exclusive—and Republicans and Democrats alike really should listen to these twin desires for both compassion and security.
4. How Hispanic Americans Think About Work and Identity
As I noted last year, Hispanics are hard to define with respect to economic views and preferences. They favor minimum wage increases and child-care subsidies—things that support work and increase paychecks—while expressing greater doubts about policies like a universal basic income that might blunt work incentives. These pro-work, pro-opportunity sentiments are an important reason Hispanics are increasingly open to a GOP message about economic freedom which is always the keystone interest of rising U.S. immigrant groups.
For ideological reasons, Democrats want to compete on the ground of multiculturalism, identity politics, and government intervention; Hispanics want what they came here for: opportunity. They resist and resent constraints on their drive and ambition. In the midterm elections last week, Hispanic GOP support rose by 10 points compared to 2018, from 29 to 39 percent. Hispanics are still a Democratic constituency, but they appear to be moving toward “jump-ball” status. Paying attention to their economic aspirations—and not just their concerns or resentments—is likely the key to securing their loyalty in the future.
Speaking of candidate quality.