Tone Deaf: To Save the Party, Republicans Must Excise the Crackpot Caucus

Republicans are doing a lot of soul-searching about what happened last week when a president presiding over a lousy economy managed to beat a successful businessman and former governor. If you are looking for reasons, let me help.

Vaginal probes. Legitimate rape. Rape conceptions are God's will. Show me your papers. Don't say gay. Electrified border fences. Gateway sex. Creationism. Birthers. Women who want contraception are sluts.

Mitt Romney might not have run a good campaign, but the Republican Party defeats in that race as well as Senate races are the fault of state legislatures and down-ballot candidates.

Rush Limbaugh asks what conservatives should do if the conservative message doesn't win. Embrace amnesty? Become pro-choice?

No Rush, George W. Bush didn't embrace amnesty and he got 43 percent of the Hispanic vote.

You can hold the reasonable view that America has to control its borders and stop illegal immigration. But when you pass laws that allow the cops to demand brown-skinned people produce proof of citizenship you have declared war on Hispanic voters.

I think most women in America are personally pro-life. But they resent male legislators trying to dictate to women what they can do with their bodies. Closing clinics and setting up invasive procedures crosses the line. Single women voted for Barack Obama in droves. Suburban women who would never think of having an abortion bought into the narrative that the Republican Party sees women as second-class citizens who must be regulated by male state legislators.

Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and the younger Bush were pro-life. Did they lose the votes of white women by massive numbers?

The War on Women narrative, developed by the Democrats and pushed by liberal media outlets, might not have gained traction had Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana not provided idiotic statements about rape. It didn't help that the party platform also condemns abortion in the case or rape or incest. Not even the presidential candidate agreed with that.

Young people are turned off by harsh rhetoric and bully tactics. They don't like the prospect of discrimination against gay people. To their generation, what people do in their personal lives is their own business.

You don't have to "embrace the gay lifestyle" if you are a religious conservative. But imposing your religious views with legislation turns off the next generation of voters.

The Republican brand has come to be associated with bigotry and hate speech. It is the tone and the rhetoric that turns off people who might otherwise agree more with conservative principles than liberal ones.

In the 1950s, the John Birch Society began to make inroads into the Republican Party. Their extremist views and paranoia about government plots threatened to marginalize the party. William F. Buckley, editor of The National Review, and other conservative opinion leaders worked to throw these people out of the party.

What can Republican leaders today do to change the perception of minority groups and demographic changes?

They can start by condemning people who claim, all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is not an American citizen. They can call out conservative talk-radio hosts for hateful tirades and name-calling. They can condemn Limbaugh when he does things like refer to a young woman testifying before Congress as a slut.

They can also call out a handful of state legislators who make national news with stupid bills.

It's time to start taking responsibility. Call down and excise the Crackpot Caucus.

You don't have to give up conservative principles to have a sense of decency. Make your case without demonizing entire segments of the population.

Make your case and win the culture wars in the marketplace of ideas.