An Open Letter To My Fellow Republicans

You know that group of people that we have always known was out there that agreed with us? The ones we knew we could count on to help us save the country if things got bad enough? In 1980, we referred to them as the “silent majority”, and in every election since 1980 we have counted on them to come to our side and carry us to victory on election night. Well guess what…

They aren’t coming.

In fact, they are never coming again.

The problem is, that silent majority has shifted to the other side. It is a different group to be sure, but it exists. It is a group made up of people who don’t live and die by politics each and every day. You might even argue they are not as informed on each and every issue as a typical run-of-the-mill Republican. But President Obama proved that once every four years, if you are successful at finding their motivation, they will vote. And when they vote, they win.

Perhaps this is best illustrated by my favorite line from the election coverage last night. Brit Hume stated that while Republican enthusiasm was much higher than Democrat enthusiasm, “an unenthusiastic vote counts the same as an enthusiastic one.”

So this morning, Republicans have one of two choices: they can fume, cry, quote scripture about the end of the world, blame the media and/or vow to fight President Obama on every front for the next four years or; they can take a long hard look in the mirror.

Up front, I will admit that the hardest thing about this election to swallow was the media treatment of Romney, their utter disinterest in Benghazi and their 180 degree coverage of a president following a hurricane that found FEMA as basically unprepared for Sandy as they were for Katrina. However, those are things I cannot change, nor do they address some fundamental problems facing the Republican party.

As the party of the Christian Right (and by extension, the subset to which I belong, the LDS right) I believe the time has come to examine if we are truly exhibiting the attributes and values of our Savior when it comes to our politics. And if we aren’t, are we comfortable losing each and every presidential election for years to come.

Now I can already hear the protests start before I make my case. “This is a center/right country. Didn’t you see the electoral map last night?” I did, but I saw some other things as well that caused me serious pause.

1. Republicans have won the popular vote for president ONE time since 1988.

2. Catholic Hispanics, a demographic that should be a natural fit for a values voting party such as ours, is growing each and every election and is voting for the democrat by a 40% spread or higher.

3. 1 in 5 voters no longer associate themselves with a specific religion. Even less attend church services regularly.

4. For the first time, single women voters outnumbered married women voters.

5. Tea Party candidates end up hurting more than they help. If you switch the four Senate seats that were considered sure pick ups for the Republicans over the 2012 and 2010 elections, but didn’t switch because of idiotic candidate statements, (“I am not a witch.” “We should get rid of Social Security.” “A woman’s body has a natural defense in the case of legitimate rape.” “When pregnancy occurs during rape, it is God’s will.”) Republicans would control the Senate today by one seat over the Democrats.

Some of these things we cannot control, but others we most certainly can. Specifically the Hispanic vote. For just a moment, let’s think about what happened here. Those of us who are white had our ancestors come across the sea and move in uninvited. Then some years later, we drew some lines in the sand and then told the offspring of the indigenous people that were on the wrong side of the line that they could no longer come across. We became prosperous. We did well. Those on the other side of the line, often through no fault of their own, did not do as well. Those on the wrong side of the line who decided to come here found it a ridiculous mess to try and do so legally. In some cases, the desperate need for food and supplies created situations where they could not wait and so they decided to come illegally. Sadly, drugs, human trafficking and other problems entered the picture and soon the border was a dangerous place. So what do we, the God-fearing Christian people do?

We passed SB 1070 and then defended it as if it were the bible.

Be honest, if you as a citizen of this nation had a law passed that stated you could be asked to prove your citizenship every time you are stopped for a traffic violation, or anything else, and if you can’t, you could be hauled off to jail until things are sorted out, how would you feel? No seriously, be honest, how would you really feel? Furthermore, is that really a law you can see our Savior getting behind. I don’t. But either way, it isn’t about how we as Republicans feel, it is how Hispanics-legal, legit, citizen Hispanics feel. And they don’t like it. And they aren’t going to vote for a party that supports this kind of incendiary law. If Republicans don’t back away from this kind of vitriol regarding immigration, we will never get Nevada back, Colorado back, we will lose North Carolina forever and Arizona will soon start turning blue on the national map.

“But Ryan, if we just make them all legal, they will overrun our welfare roles and we will go broke.”

To this I say, How dare you? That might be true for some, but this thinking is an excuse. Case in point, this is the same argument that caused Rick Perry to offer in-state tuition to illegals in his state because he knew they were going to be here either way. At least with an education they could become productive members of society. This one single act sunk his campaign for the Republican nomination. We have got to change our thinking on this.

Another area is with gay marriage. We don’t have to agree with the concept, nor give it equal billing within our places of worship. But we better start acknowledging that the homosexual population is made up of human beings with basic needs for acceptance like everybody else. We need to be reaching out and finding compromise on issues such as gay marriage and other items that are important to the gay community. I am not suggesting we fold up shop and turn away from our beliefs, but again, the vitriol with which we approach this issue is toxic. We send out the message that we view homosexuals as deviants and monsters not to be trusted around our children. We may not specifically say it with our words, but again, be honest, how would you react to the tone and demeanor if it was directed at you? I ask once more, is this the message our Savior would send? I believe the example of his life suggests not.

Not since FDR has a president been re-elected with the unemployment number as high and the economy as sluggish. I realized this morning why Barack Obama was re-elected. To millions, he is the new FDR. He cares about their issue. OR at least he has convinced people he does. The economy may be bad, but Barack cares about their issue. His campaign was brilliant in seeking out specific individuals and convincing them of such through targeted social media and other tools. Mitt Romney, in their eyes, did not. Republicans did not.

In uncertain times like these, people need to feel loved and cared for. Throughout history, that feeling of comfort has not always been available or offered, but it is something every human being craves regardless. It is time for Republicans, led by those of us on the Christian right, to get off our high horses of sanctimony and get out among the masses. We need to show our true Christian values of love and inclusion and not just talk about them. Because if we don’t, the masses are only going to continue to grow and we will find ourselves swept away in the process.

They Paid $4 billion for What???

I was reading an article yesterday about the purchase of LucasFilm Inc.  by The Walt Disney Corporation. They were discussing the future of the Star Wars franchise and the possible negative/positive effects Disney might have on it. In the middle of this article, there was an argument made that Disney has been very good to both the Marvel stable of movies and the Pixar folks by adopting a very hands off approach. In the course of that argument, an aside comment was made stating that Pixar has a very impressive track record despite the obvious missteps of Cars 2 and Brave. It was stated in such a way as to imply that everyone agrees that these two movies are both lacking. What was startling about it to me is that…I like Brave. Is it the best movie I’ve ever seen? No. Is it even my favorite princess movie made in the last the few years? I would again have to say no. I much preferred Tangled and think it is more entertaining than Brave, but I still liked the movie about the Scottish redhead. And more to the point, my kids LOVED it.

Which brings me to my main point. I just hate how much mob mentality seems to rule the opinions of our society.

I mean, I had to agree with the author on Cars 2. I really tried to love that movie. For one, the original Cars is one of my favorites. Two, Pixar had not let me down ever up to that point. But as I sat in the theater with my two boys, waiting for the patented great storytelling associated with Pixar to kick in, I finally had to admit to myself that it just wasn’t going to happen. They had made a movie about Mater, and Mater just ain’t that interesting.

However, as the credits rolled, both of my boys started gushing about the movie.  And to this day, they both will choose Cars 2 over the original every time. So am I right in saying that Cars 2 isn’t a good movie? Is the general consensus that Cars 2 is lousy correct? I don’t know…but I do know that Disney/Pixar scored a hit with the demographic they were shooting for in my household. A demographic, by the way, of which I am not a part.

Which finally brings me to true rant of the day. Why is the human race of the late 20th and early 21st century so obsessed with Star Wars? I mean seriously, it’s…Star Wars. Other than arguably the greatest villain ever (I would argue for Heath Ledger’s Joker, but, I can at least concede there’s an argument) these movies suck! Let me recap the negatives:

1. The smartest good guy in any of the six films is a trash can that beeps, honks and sprays oil on occasion. (Sorry Obi-Wan, this could have been you had Lucas stopped after three movies. But your mystical wisdom went to crap in the three prequels that followed. I mean seriously, your incessant hen-pecking practically created Darth Vader single-handedly.)

2. What could have been one of the truly great villianous regimes (the empire) gets completely undermined by the fact that they got beat, multiple times by this roving band of idiots. (My apologies, Chewbaca. In most instances, you do seem to have your wits about you and I hesitate to bunch you in with this group, but at no point did you finally acknowledge that none of these people could understand you. Had you done that and just left, your legacy might have been salvaged.)

3. The writing. I mean, come on. Is George Lucas just so intimidating that no one could stand up at any point and say, “Uh, George? This line you have here about…well, basically all of these lines. They sound like my third-grader wrote them.” The only thing worse than the writing is…

4. The acting. I suppose if you are given the worst lines ever to recite, your ability to do it in a believable way is probably hampered significantly. However, we learned from other movies that at least some of these actors could actually act. But if you only had these films to judge the actors on…ecchhh. The most glaring example in the first three movies is…

5. Mark Hamill. There are so many things I could say here, but let’s boil it down to one thing. When your principal protagonist is introduced initially in the manner Luke Skywalker is, (incessantly whining, “Uuuuuncllleeeee Owwwwennnn, whyyy do IIIII have to clean up the droids?”) there is no recovering from that. I don’t care how many Death Stars he blows up or how many blubbering mountains of flesh he destroys, I always see his face and suddenly, I’m hearing that grating whine. Is that Mark Hamill’s fault? Probably not, but…life’s not always fair. However, as bad as Mark Hamill was in these movies, he still stands head and shoulders above…

6. Hayden Christensen. I’ve never seen a man so determined to destroy anything good he creates the way George Lucas seems to be. Who else would create possibly the most iconic villain in pop culture history and then turn the reins of that villain over to this schmo?  I’m sorry, but there is no way this petulant doofus, who couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, would eventually turn into the masterful character voiced by James Earl Jones.  There literally is no way.

7. Side characters that make you want to rip your spleen out through your eye socket. I never thought it would be possible to make me hate a character more than I hated C3PO. And then we met Jar Jar Binks.

8. Unbelievably rude stereotypes. Thieving, untrustworthy “businessman” who happens to have a huge nose and a Jewish accent. Manipulative finance folks whose eyes are slightly slanted and have Japanese accents. The most non-redeemable and useless character in the history of film (the aforementioned Jar Jar) has a Jamaican accent. White people as stupid…oh wait, that’s every character, not just the white ones. Forget that last one.

But, when it comes to Star Wars, I find I am generally in the minority. The common wisdom of the masses is that this franchise is possibly the greatest film franchise of all time.

And yet, I don’t care. I don’t care that a ton of people from my generation equate their youth with a galaxy far, far away. I don’t care that the special effects were so revolutionary that they changed the way movies are made. I don’t care that this franchise has such a following that the Disney corporation paid $4 billion with a “B” for it. I just don’t care.

Regardless of the opinion of the masses, I will always mock Star Wars…Always.  Except maybe with one exception. I won’t be mocking one bit when Star Wars VII comes out and the shares that I own in Disney Corp. shoot through the roof. On that day, I will cry out, along with Star Wars fans everywhere, “May the Force Be With You.” Even if the movie is as big of a dud artistically as the six that preceded it.