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Leslie Loftis: The Oscars and the GOP – both have lost their way

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Even though this will be published on Thursday morning, well after Americans have our Super Tuesday results, I am writing after having voted in my home state primary and while waiting to gather with some local Republicans to see how Cruz and Rubio fare. I will save heavy Super Tuesday reflection for next week – when my regular America Watch feature touches down on a TCW page near you. This is one of the reasons I am excited about writing this column. So much news today is quick reaction. I miss reading and reflecting.

For now, the air is full of options. We have strategic voting guides circulating on Facebook, which counsel the non-Trump voters on how to minimise his delegate take even if he wins everywhere but Texas, as most experts and the betting markets expect. (UPDATE: Cruz took Texas and Oklahoma and Rubio Minnesota, so Trump did not meet expectations at the state level, but too few read the strategic voting guide. Among other grim outcomes, Kasich threw Virginia and Vermont to Trump instead of Rubio.)

The delegate count matters because if Trump doesn’t win on the first vote at the National Convention—possible as some states send un-pledged delegates who can vote their own mind—then we have an open convention. There are talks among the Republican elite of mounting a third party campaign or convention coup with Mitt Romney, the establishment candidate who lost four years ago and laid the foundation for the schism happening now. They will never learn.

There are also preparations underway for a permanent third party break. “Conservative” has never been synonymous with “Republican,” but the two types had enough Venn overlap that conservatives have voted Republican for decades. Now, however, we are taken for granted and ignored the way the Democrats take the black vote for granted and ignore them.

Assuming those voters were there — and assuming that “conservative” is about social issues rather than government structure — the GOP ignored constitutional conservative issues.

(After previous columns, commenters have mentioned the similarities between the US and UK conservatives. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has more thoughts on that.)

Since a Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton race is disastrous either way — the choice between the moral busybody and the robber baron* — and the worse of the two, Clinton, is almost a forgone conclusion, the grave mood rolling through the conservative movement risks all of the down ticket races. I know far too many motivated and smart voters who will stay home if Trump or Clinton is their only option. Some of us think it is finally time to break away from the losing Republican machine. It is too rusted to salvage. Save the down ticket and local conservatives and prepare for Clinton’s second term run.

While that is all in flux, a little pop culture.

The Oscars were on Sunday night, the all-white Oscars. For two years all of the best actor categories have been white actors or actresses. The guardians of diversity do not allow that. Racist intent or not, racism is assumed if minorities are not represented in the nominations. That said, it is odd to see this two years running given the number of talented minority actors on the screen.

So, as happens these days, there was a withering hashtag campaign, #OscarsSoWhite. The Oscar committee probably thought they had a ratings winner with all the free publicity. They asked Chris Rock to host, and apparently encouraged him to stoke the controversy. Which he did. His entire opening monologue was full of barbs and insults, which stung all the more because they were true. Liberal Hollywood is racist.

But the ratings did not come. Famous minorities had boycotted the event. Main Street minorities just didn’t watch. And when the entire show focused on the whiteness of it all—the barbs and insults did not stop at the opening monologue— others turned it off. Everything within the show’s control was about racism as if it was the only problem of our time.

Of course it is not. Look beyond the colour of the American actors, and the Oscars covered a diverse range of problems. One of the documentary awards went to a film about honor killings. One of the music nominees was about sexual assault.

Here, I must stop to compliment Vice President Joe Biden. He introduced Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens to You”, the song about sexual assault. She wrote it for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which purported to expose rape on campus but was in part based upon false allegations which plague men on American campuses. In his introduction, however, Biden conspicuously and repeatedly included men as victims of sexual assault, which is a stark, but often ignored reality.

Still, the sexual assault song did not take home the trophy. But at least the song that won the Oscar was sung by a homosexual man — who wrongly claimed that he was the first openly gay man to win an Oscar. He was not.

Into all of this, the Oscars ratings collapsed. They are too long and too precious. They would do better to focus on talent. Award the talent and the diversity will come. Focusing on diversity these days, that is never a winning idea. I did like the set, though.

*That is a reference to a favourite C.S. Lewis quote, which seemed only occasionally applicable to real life before this year. He was speaking of religious moral busybodies, but one only need realise that moral busybodies just go by another name in politics. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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Leslie Loftis
Leslie Loftis
Leslie is a once and future American expat, most recently in London. She is also a lawyer and former local political campaign operative turned freelance writer. She currently lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband and their four children. Find her on twitter @AHLondonTX.

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