Republicans Still Not Getting It

I mentioned in my election wrap up that Michael Steele on MSNBC discussed that this election wasn’t “a rejection of conservatism”, but rather that conservatives have to better articulate what that means. I think the idea is hilarious on its face since we’re pretty clear on what conservatism means, and while I know a lot of people (“paleoconservatives”) who disagree with much of what the modern right has to say, they continue to support neoconservatives in elections, so their personal feelings on the matter mean exactly bupkis.

Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin at Politico discuss last Tuesday’s major loss with a number of GOP officials and strategists. They all recognize the problem, but they fail to correctly identify the solution.

West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who’s considering a Senate bid in 2014, said Republicans had to confront the reality that they’re “not diversified like the country” and risked losing women voters and minorities in future cycles.


“We did not get the voter turnout that we anticipated getting,” [Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill] Bolling said. “We have got to do a better job reaching out to women, to Latinos, to young voters. And if we don’t do that, we’re going to have a hard time winning elections on a national level.”


Republican State Leadership Committee President Chris Jankowski, whose group supports GOP candidates in non-federal elections, put it this way: “We ran into what I would describe as a buzz saw of Democrat-driven Hispanic turnout that was all about the top of the ticket but it caught us down ballot.”

Clearly, they get the idea. They need to reach out to the people they spent the last election cycle trying to convince that the issues that mattered to them were meaningless. This is good news and points toward a more moderate Republican party. I was excited.

And then I read on.

“We need to reach beyond our base without sacrificing our core values, and it can be done,” [Ohio Senator Rob Portman] said.  “I believe there is a common sense conservative majority in swing states like Ohio, but it’s a more diverse group than the GOP base. To get less than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote and less than eight percent of the African-American vote shows the potential we have to reach out with an inclusive message of fiscal conservatism, pro-growth policies to help small business and a renewed emphasis on the opportunity society.”

Sigh. So, basically, he thinks they should do nothing different, just continue trying to convince people that his math-free economic plan is good for them. There’s more.

“An immigration deal is something the Senate needs to take the lead on. You’ve got Rubio there to take the lead on it. You’re not going to get the House to do it until they know the Senate is serious,” [Oklahoma Rep. Tom] Cole said. “You can’t get the votes you need in the House if they think they’re going to go out and bleed and die as the Senate sits and twiddles their thumbs.”

You won’t get an immigration deal in the House because it’s an immigration deal in the House and John Boehner will never bring it to the floor. There’s lots of precedent for this. What we see here is Rep. Cole trying to shift blame to the Senate, a popular hobby in the House, but it doesn’t actually address the issue.

I also find it hilarious that everybody keeps bringing up Senator Rubio as if a) showing that you have a Latino guy is better than actually doing things that serve the Latin@ community, and b) only the Cuban can take the lead on immigration reform, because it would be really hard for white guys to figure out how to change this system to better help a community that isn’t theirs.

But I disgress.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, agreed that it’s time for a deal on immigration reform, but added: “I feel very strongly it has to start with border control and enforcement.”

There! Right there! That’s the problem in one sentence.

I’m not sure if Gov. McDonnell is aware, but Latin@s don’t give a shit about border control and enforcement. They just don’t. McDonnell’s plan (let’s not forget that this guy was shortlisted for VP before that whole “transvaginal ultrasound” thing) to reach out to the Hispanic community is to do more stuff that makes paranoid white guys happy.

And that seems to be the problem throughout this piece. Everybody they’re speaking to discusses how they have to do outreach, but not compromise their “core values.” And that’s a problem because everything is a “core value” to the modern GOP, or a the very least their core value is “don’t look like you’re working with Democrats on anything”. Moreover, many of these “core values” suddenly appeared during the last four years. Since immigration keeps coming up, need I remind people that the DREAM Act was a Republican idea? One that they turned against with a fury?

Republicans are going to have to bend on some things. Part of that is telling their media outlets to dial down the “never give up, never surrender” rhetoric and start pushing for compromise, because otherwise they’ll keep getting nominees like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Part of it is recognizing that their own ideas aren’t always terrible just because they come from a Democratic president. And part of it is recognizing that they will lose part of their base.

I don’t think it’s out of the question that the GOP can broaden its appeal, but it can’t do so with it’s usual trick of telling other people that their concerns are stupid and offering an economic plan that has never benefited people who aren’t already wealthy. They will need to change to stop being the party of homophobia and racism, of Christianism and science denial, of rape apologetics and pay inequality. They will lose racists, homophobes, the religious right, militias, MRAs, and a number of other people. But they may just gain a piece of the increasingly open-minded electorate that just kicked their asses from sea to shining sea, and isn’t that worth it?


3 thoughts on “Republicans Still Not Getting It

  1. Wait… so you’re saying that aging White men need to start thinking about things that people who aren’t aging White men care about? What a revolutionary idea!

    All sarcasm aside, I think that this isn’t something that they can really “understand”, because – in their minds – what they have and what they are is what is good and right and just and “real American.” Anything that isn’t what they want is – therefore – evil and wrong and unjust and “non-American”. It was summed up in that off-the-cuff remark that O’Reilly made: “The demographics are changing.” (See? He recognizes the root of the numbers problem!) “It’s not a traditional America anymore.” (See? He’s completely blind to the fact that he’s just dissed anyone who isn’t in the aging-White-man club… and I bet that he literally doesn’t see that, understand that, nor really care).

    This quote of O’Reilly is such a great distillation of the blindness that you outline that the GOP are currently engaged in justifying. Until they figure out that their bigoted attitude toward “others” is not attractive, then their just going to keep on running candidates who are obviously token “Not White-males” and continue to scratch their heads as to why the majority of “Not White-males” aren’t voting for the GOP.

    • Your last paragraph really brings up an excellent point: they run token “Not White-males” and wonder why this doesn’t automatically get them votes. Remember in 2010 when people had to keep reminding the GOP and right-leaning pundits that women don’t automatically vote for the candidate with a vagina? Or during the last primaries? Just yesterday the guy I share an office with was grumbling about how minorities only voted for Obama because of his skin color, “which is a stupid reason to vote for somebody.” I had to explain that minorities are actually people, and have issues that concern them, just like white folks. I don’t think he got it.

      Identity politics have become a big thing on the right. I’m not sure if it’s a run off from the Southern Strategy or a result of the Reagan Revolution like so much stuff that’s effecting us now, but there’s a clearly tribal tone to the whole thing.

  2. A reader of the Dish gave this good insight:

    One thing that is disgusting about the current GOP and something you’ve not touched on much since the 47% tape faded away, is that a core tenant of the GOP is that they are the makers and everyone else (the Democrats) are the takers. Look at most any of the commentary from the right since the election night and this is pushed over and over again: America is lost because now the takers outnumber the makers. This premise is patently and outrageously false.

    And this is their default worldview now. Certainly the welfare state is not anywhere near as small as most everyone wants it to be, but to presuppose a Democratic voter is nothing less than a leach on society is flat out disgusting. The GOP starts with contempt for their fellow citizen and go down from there. They make it a practice to insult everyone in the middle and lower classes then wonder why nobody wants to join their team.

    They insult women for caring about their personal health and freedom and viability in the workforce and wonder why there is a gender gap. They assume a successful person of color is a result of affirmative action and wonder why they don’t get credit for Condi Rice and Colin Powell. They refuse to accept that an effective safety net does not create mass poverty. Jesus had a lot to say about the poor in his day, yet I don’t think there was much of a safety net back then. The right wing today will demonize anyone who needs help and they demonize anyone who wants to give help. How is that American? How does any of that solve our real issues?

    The last two Democratic presidents were honest-to-goodness American Dream success stories. Men who came from broken homes and poverty only to transcend their status to become brilliant and powerful forces in America. They should be heroes to every little kid growing up in a tough neighborhood or boring suburb.

    But not on the right. They degrade both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama while at the same time trumpeting the privileged soft-handed sons of power. How is that American? How is that patriotic? How does this appeal to those of us who believe in our public schools and our dart league at the our favorite tavern and our “dinner for eight” every Saturday night at our church? Just because a person decides to write code for a living or they have to wait tables or they are promoted into middle management in some shitty corporation instead of “taking chances” and “sticking their neck out” as entrepreneurs or “Job Creators” doesn’t mean we are not good, loving Americans. And we vote Democratic now because we don’t want to hate our neighbors for simply being normal people.

    Not to say the Dems are the best ever – they are not – but at least they seem to want to reflect the diversity of experience that is uniquely American. From that broad base they have the mandate to solve America’s issues as a cohesive force in it together. The Republicans are looking more and more like quasi-apartheid rulers insistent that their ideological and racial and gender purity is the only thing that will hold this country together. Frickin stupid.

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