Sunday, November 18, 2012

Is Our Republicans Learning?

Latest Newspaper Column:

It's nearly two weeks after the presidential election and the "shocking" victory of Barack Obama over Lord Mitt, the Earl of Etch-a-Sketchington (shocking, that is, unless you were actually paying attention to the arithmetic).
Reading and watching the seemingly endless parade of analysis, recrimination and tantrums filling the media, one is compelled to ask, in the words of The Former President Who Must Not Be Named: Is our Republicans learning?
Well, I said last week that we live in hope. And there's been some reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, the GOP has taken some lessons from losing both the Electoral College and the popular vote.
For instance, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, the new head of the Republican Governors Association, gave an interview to Politico in which he candidly said that Republicans need to stop being "the stupid party."
Noting that some Republican candidates had damaged the GOP brand with "offensive, bizarre comments," Jindal insisted that "we've ... had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people, and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters." He urged the party to reach out to all Americans, "including the 47 percent and the 53 percent."
Erick Erickson, who built one of the most virulent nests of angry wingnuttery with his website before becoming a regular contributor on the supposedly liberal CNN, pushed back against the crazies calling for states to secede. Barack Obama, he wrote, "did not win by stealing the election. ... He won by turning out the most people in a well-run campaign. In other words, he won fair and square."
Sadly, however, Jindal and Erickson may be lonely voices crying in the wilderness. Many prominent Republicans seemed determined to keep pushing the message that lost them the election: that Those People are coming to take your stuff.
Mitt Romney blamed his loss on the "gifts" that the president gave young, African-American, and Hispanic voters. Paul Ryan blamed the loss on an unexpectedly large turnout of voters in "urban areas," and we all know what that means, don't we?
The conservative media figures who did so much to insulate their right-wing audiences from reality were even more blunt. Bill O'Reilly went full-out racist, saying that the election was decided by African-American and Hispanic voters who "wanted someone to give them stuff."
Ann Coulter was practically in tears as she told talk show host Laura Ingraham: "We have more takers than makers, and it's over. There is no hope." Rush Limbaugh sarcastically suggested that the way to bring back women voters was for conservatives to "start their own abortion industry."

Here's a news flash, GOP: You're not going to win the votes of African-Americans, the majority of whom are working people, by acting like all anyone darker than you wants to do is lie around the projects collecting welfare and committing voter fraud. You're not going to win the votes of Latinos by backing laws that assume that every one of them is illegal until they prove otherwise.
You're not going to win the votes of young people by acting as if the desire for educational opportunity makes them parasites, and by the way, that their openly gay and lesbian friends are abominations before God. You're not going to win the votes of women if you insist that their desire that the insurance they work or pay for covers contraception makes them lazy sluts who want free birth control pills so they can have sex all day.
This should not be hard to figure out. You don't win elections by insulting the people you need to vote for you. If you offend a sufficient number of minority groups, pretty soon you've offended a majority.
Republicans may try to take comfort in the fact that they held on to control of the House of Representatives.
But that doesn't mean that the "white makers vs. the grasping dark hordes" message is going to suddenly turn into a winner in 2016.
You may be able to hang on to a House seat in a district gerrymandered to put people who look, talk and think just like you in one place. But it won't win you the Senate or the White House. That requires outreach to all Americans. Just ask Paul Ryan, who held his "safe" House seat while losing his home state.
In a changing America, conservatives will win few victories by professing their love of country while openly loathing more than half of the people who live in it.