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?