By Markos Moulitsas - 01/23/13 12:08 AM EST
As Republicans figure out how to compete better in the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus already has a suggestion: fewer debates.
Why would Republicans want fewer opportunities for voters to hear the Republican message unfiltered, straight from their candidates’ mouths? Because quite simply, the GOP is on the wrong side of virtually every major national issue. An outside observer might think Republicans were sabotaging themselves, uninterested in winning future elections. Why else would they so visibly and aggressively stand in the way of popular agenda items?
At a time when overwhelming majorities of the American people support additional gun-safety measures such as mandatory background checks for all gun sales, the NRA and its Republican allies vow to fight even the mildest reforms.
At a time when Republicans face deeper deficits with the two fastest-growing demographics — Asian and Latino voters — conservatives vow to stymie any efforts for comprehensive immigration reform.
At a time when Republicans face problems winning female voters, House conservatives continue blocking the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and still won’t stop making fools of themselves talking about rape.
At a time when Americans and the business community are tired of the GOP’s economic terrorism on the debt ceiling, conservatives want to threaten national default if the president doesn’t cave to demands rejected by American voters last November.
At a time when just 33 percent of Americans support repeal of ObamaCare, according to the latest polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Republicans still insist on taking people’s healthcare away.
This isn’t the first time Republicans have lined up on the wrong side of pretty much everything, but it’s the first time Democrats seem to be acknowledging it. Announcing his gun-safety proposals last Wednesday, President Obama said, “There will be pundits and politicians and special-interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty — not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.”
That might’ve been the first time that Obama stopped pretending that his opposition had noble intentions, that it had a valid point of view, that it was a good-faith negotiator. It’s the first time that given the choice between trying to compromise with an unpopular right and fighting for what the American people want, Obama is siding with the American people. That doesn’t mean compromise won’t happen, just that finally it doesn’t seem to be Obama’s end goal.
A few Republicans have noticed their party’s precipitous descent. Joe Scarborough tweeted, “The House can pass comprehensive gun legislation now and have Speaker Boehner shape it, or wait two years for Speaker Pelosi to do it.” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said, “If we want to have purity in our party, we can have it, but we’re going to be the minority party.” But the GOP’s problem isn’t purity, it’s the rank unpopularity of everything it stands for.
Democrats enjoy a key advantage — what’s popular with their base is also popular with America. If they do the right thing and refuse to let Republicans draw them into doing stupid things like cutting Social Security benefits, no amount of gerrymandering will save Speaker John Boehner’s job.
Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)