Party’s doomed path

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the Republican National Committee argued for “rebranding” itself to better appeal to communities of color and younger voters. It was a suggestion born of necessity ­— the GOP won’t be winning national elections anytime soon unless it can make inroads with these fast-growing, heavily Democratic constituencies. 

Party elder Bill Kristol, however, isn’t aboard. Noting with disgust the increasing (if still painfully small) number of Republicans who no longer oppose marriage equality, Kristol mocked “this kind of pathetic attempt to say, ‘Oh, my God! Young people especially are liberal so let’s just rush to cater to them,’ as if they’re going to respect you if you just embrace the views of some 26-year-old who doesn’t know anything honestly.” This, from the No. 1 cheerleader of the Iraq War, who “knew” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

ADVERTISEMENT
Then there was Alaska Rep. Don Young, who waxed poetic in an interview about those “wetbacks” who once worked on his father’s California ranch. Republicans everywhere pretended to be outraged at the slur, which was as dated as the GOP itself. But Young’s sin was to say what he did as crassly as he did, because no similar outrage met Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) when he said, referring to undocumented immigrants, “Let’s not take on any more water on this sinking ship. Let’s patch the holes. Then we’ll decide what do we do with all this water that’s here.” 

Then there’s the rank disrespect conservatives are showing Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, President Obama’s nominee for the Department of Labor. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was outraged that Perez had worked with an organization that helps undocumented immigrants find work, saying that “his views on illegal immigration are far outside the mainstream.” One wonders which mainstream, because pro-reform America sure doesn’t subscribe to Sessions’ retrograde views. Several other Republicans also promised to filibuster the nomination.

And certainly don’t look at the conservative rank and file for any rebranding help. This past weekend, online conservatives, from no-names to Dana Perino and Glenn Beck, collectively lost their heads when Google honored the birthday of civil rights icon Cesar Chavez with his visage on its logo. Aside from the fact that half of them couldn’t tell the difference between Cesar Chavez and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, the fact that any Chavez was being honored was too much for that crowd. 

Thus, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) was only stating the obvious when he recently said, “Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change. If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party.” And he’s right. But Christian Right leader Gary Bauer slips when diagnosing the problem: “If we gave our voters an accurate portrayal of our ideas, that we want to cut the rate of growth on Social Security, give tax cuts to billionaires and then the values issues, the values issues would be more popular than the economic agenda of the current Republican Party.”

Where does Bauer get the idea that its social views are any more popular than Mitt Romney Republicanism? The fact is, the GOP can’t win in the long term without shifting its stances on marriage equality and immigration reform (and overall acceptance of diversity). Yet shifting on those issues will sunder the conservative coalition. 

So we’re back to the GOP’s original dilemma: change now, and suffer short-term pain but compete in the long term; or stay the course, suffer short-term pain and suffer even more pain in the long term. It’s clear which path they’ve chosen.


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