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GOP can’t win on merits

It’s true: The Republican Party isn’t interested in governing, and it sure as heck isn’t interested in ever winning a national election again.

We’ve covered the GOP’s demographic deficit: the rise of the Asian and Hispanic vote and the decline of the angry white Southern male vote. Throw in the reality of mortality, and you can’t help but notice that every month, 100,000 predominantly white and conservative Americans die, while 67,000 Latinos turn 18. Yet rather than bow to the inevitable and begin the kind of rebranding that will keep it relevant with America’s changing demographics, the GOP is doubling down on the same kind of xenophobic and racial animosity that created its problems in the first place.

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The New York Times Magazine recently reported on a GOP-led focus group of working-class white Ohioans who voted for President Obama in 2012 but were disaffected with his leadership and could, theoretically, be won by future Republicans. When asked what they thought when they heard the word “Democrat”, they responded with “young people,” “liberal,” “diverse,” “Bill Clinton,” “change,” “open-minded,” “spending,” “handouts,” “green” and “more science-based.” Not every response was positive, but the bulk of the responses were.

Asked about Republicans, the responses were brutal: “corporate greed,” “old,” “middle-aged white men,” “rich,” “religious,” “conservative,” “hypocritical,” “military retirees,” “narrow-minded,” “rigid,” “not progressive,” “polarizing,” “stuck in their ways,” “farmers,” “racist,” “out of touch,” “hateful,” and one person said, “put ‘1950s’ on there too!” These people — no fans of Obama, remember — seem to hate Republicans more than the community at Daily Kos!

These respondents said they wanted Democrats to protect Social Security, help pay off student loans, spend more time focused on the middle class. They wanted Republicans to drop social issues like marriage equality and abortion, drop opposition to science, and start compromising.

And therein lies the GOP’s problem. The tougher Democrats become on Wall Street greed, the more they protect Social Security and Medicare, the fiercer they fight for the middle class, the happier its base becomes. But if Republicans broadened their appeal by dropping those divisive social issues, they would lose their base. If Republicans decided to accept the validity of science, such as on global climate change, they would lose their base. If they decided to begin compromising, they would lose their base.

Witness the current filibuster of a conservative Republican to head the Pentagon for no actual reason anyone can articulate other than “Obama nominated him” and the bizarre fact that idiot Republicans, from Breitbart.com to National Review to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, believed a lame joke about a fictitious “Friends of Hamas” organization funding Chuck Hagel.

The point is, none of that will or can happen without the GOP exacerbating what is already a debilitating civil war, one that appears set to be fought through the 2014 primaries. Republicans are so divided that they couldn’t even offer up a unified rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address, instead featuring both establishment (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio) and Tea Party (Paul) responses. Meanwhile, party stalwarts are tuning out of politics — Fox News suffered its lowest ratings in 11 years, while Clear Channel, home of Rush Limbaugh, lost more than $400 million in 2012.

We have entered an era when Republicans can only win if they rig the system — be it gerrymandering, voter suppression or one of their harebrained schemes to reapportion electoral votes from key battleground states. There’s no way they win on the merits.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)

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