I’ve been writing lately about the crossroads the GOP has reached, and the choices before them: Republicans can either change their policies and their tone to attract minority voters, or the GOP can rely solely on white voters. There’s increasing evidence that Republicans will choose the latter option. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to be a winning strategy.
The quixotic quest against Obamacare, which holds significant benefits for African-Americans and Latinos, is just the latest example of Republicans' inability to change their policies.
It’s clear that Republicans and their conservatives supporters are neither willing nor able to even change their tone.
- Mark Levin called health care reform “a cancer,” and a “top-down, iron-fisted, Soviet-style program,” but left out that it’s basically cribbed from old Heritage Foundation’s proposals that Republicans used to support. Not to mention Romneycare.
- Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming, called it the “most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed.”
- Rush Limbaugh declared that health care reform may be the law of the land, but “so was slavery at one time.” Thus Limbaugh continues the grand tradition of Republicans comparing everything they don’t like to slavery. That is, when they’re not defending slavery.
- New Hampshire Republican Rep. Bill O’Brien declared health care reform “as destructive to personal and individual liberties as the Fugitive Slave Act.”
- As everyone knows by now, Sen. Ted Cruz compared opponents of his plan to defund Obamcare to “Nazi appeasers,” during his filibuster-that-really-wasn’t-a-filibuster. Too bad Godwin’s Law doesn’t apply to Senate proceedings.
- President Obama joked about these and other Republican reactions, including Michele Bachmann’s warning that the law must be repealed ”before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.” The remarked at a Maryland event, ”I just want to point out that we still have women. We still have children. And we still have senior citizens.”
If the above sounds like desperation, there’s probably a good reason. Conservatives are betting that the Obama presidency can basically be wiped off the books, if the GOP can win back the White House. (Assuming they can’t undo the results of two presidential elections, by taking the economy hostage and demanding the president abandon his agenda and replace it with the GOP’s losingagenda.)
- In an interview with BusinessWeek, Heritage Foundation president Tom DeMint explained that having Mitt Romney on the ticket effectively made it hard for Republicans to “litigate the Obamacare issue,” because while he was Massachusetts governor Romney signed into law a health care reform bill that was a model for Obamacare. (Last month, DeMint said that he believed President Obama would sign a bill that repealed his signature legislative achievement. Straight-faced, even.)
- Karl Rove ventured into the realm of wishful thinking when he revealed during an appearance on the “The O’Reilly Factor” that he hopes to convince Republicans to attempt to delay the implementation of Obamacare until Republicans win the White House and “have a President who will sign a measure defunding, repealing, getting rid of, and replacing Obamacare.” Even Bill O’Reilly seem to think that delaying Obamacare for three years was pie-in-the-sky.
- Far from declaring that Obamacare would bring on Armageddon, Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Greta Van Susteren that Hillary Clinton will be elected in 2016, if Obamacare succeeds. Then again, for Republicans that might be Armageddon.
As for attracting women, minorities, and other voters beyond the GOP’s “old, white, and male” demographic, it’s a losing battle. Republicans and their conservative friends in the media and elsewhere can seem to help themselves when it comes to alienating these voters.
- Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey caused a stir with remarks on a conservative talk radio talk show indicating that Republicans want to suppress the vote. During discussion about GOP voter registration issues, Hickey spoke of “some real opportunities” for the GOP in 2014, because “A lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a non-presidential.” That means “a great year for Republicans.”
- House Republicans released a YouTube video to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month that failed to mention immigration reform, and got ridiculed for it in the comments. “If you really care about Hispanics then let immigration come for a vote, there is enough votes to pass it,” said user Pabloco2627. “Words are nice but they don’t mean much.”
- Fox News got itself into trouble with a segment that referred to U.S. citizens with undocumented parents as “Children of the Corn.” the title of a Steven King horror story adapted to a movie in 1984. It’s not clear what the term meant, unless it was a reference to the role of corn in the Mexican diet.
- Following in the footsteps of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, Arizona RNC Committee member Brush Ash commented on his Facebook page, “Some people wonder why I cannot figure out why I believe Obama is shucking and jiving on Obamacare.” The phrase originated in the South, and was used to refer to the deceptive antics of black slaves
- Former Rep. Alan West, once among those whom conservatives like Ann Coulter touted as “our blacks,” lost his congressional election and then lost his job at Pajamas Media after making anti-Semitic remarks. West left his job as director of programming for Next Generation.TV after an altercation with a female staffer in which he called her a “Jewish American Princes,” while telling her to “shut up.” West is now transitioning to contributing written content twice-a-month. (Something he can do without having to come to the office.)
- Virginia Republican and candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia E.W. Jackson further closed the GOP tent to religious diversity, declaring that non-Christians (Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, Hindus, Jews, Baha’is, Sihks, Pagans, Druids, Wiccans, Rastafarians, etc.) are practicing “some sort of false religion.”
- Perhaps engaging in more wishful thinking, Sen. Ted Cruz began a speech at the Heritage Foundation for the Jesse Helms Lecture Series by declaring, “We need 100 more Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.” That’ll be the day, when states like New York and Massachusetts send pro-segregation, anti-gay senators to Washington.
Like President Obama said during that event in Maryland, “All of this would be funny if it weren’t so crazy.” Crazy and dangerous, that is, when you consider the consequences of defunding Obamacare, the impact of shutting down the government, and the disastrous results of defaulting on the nation’s debts.