Tuesday, August 25, 2015

With the Party in Disarray and Denial, the GOP has Become America's Zombie Party

by Nomad

After 2012, the Republican National Committee performed an "autopsy" on what went wrong. So many good ideas were suggested. By the looks of things, nothing has changed. Following the skillful autopsy, the GOP patient has become a political zombie. 

In the grim weeks following the Republican disaster in 2012, many in the top echelons of the Republican Party called for a concise heart-searching about what exactly is wrong with the Grand Old Party. 

Priebus' Call for Soul-Searching
The first and the hardest part of any rehabilitation was admitting there was a problem. The time had come to make that initial step. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" at that time
"In order to get back in the game, you've got to look at and do a full autopsy of what happened."
Not a bad idea. Something had to be done to stop the decline. Denial was no longer an option.

What emerged from the three- month examination was a report called  "Growth & Opportunıty Project" (Get it? GOP) An independent review panel, convened  by Chairman Priebus, "received input from over 52,000 individuals—from surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one meetings."

In many ways, the problem with the GOP was already evident and the report simply confirmed what most people already knew. 
The real question was whether anybody had the courage to say what needed to be said. 
Once said, the next question was: was anybody in the party prepared to accept the recommendations?

A Pervasive Mentality of Disenfranchisement 
That report didn't hesitate to point out the source of the party's problems. The party had to, Priebus said, stop talking to itself. Meaning that, unless the party made a concerted effort to appeal to new demographics, the Republican party's decline into irrelevance was unavoidable.
“The pervasive mentality of writing off blocks of states or demographic votes for the Republican Party must be completely forgotten.”
 The report indeed reads like a prognosis of a dying man.
It has reached the point where in the past six presidential elections, four have gone to the Democratic nominee, at an average yield of 327 electoral votes to 211 for the Republican. During the preceding two decades, from 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six elections, averaging 417 electoral votes to Democrats’ 113.1 Public perception of the Party is at record lows.
In the report, die-hard conservatives were given a bitter pill to swallow but it was certainly the truth they needed to hear. In some ways, this brand of brutal honesty, though late in coming, was also refreshing.
Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us. At the federal level, much of what Republicans are doing is not working beyond the core constituencies that make up the Party.
Living in a bubble, with custom-made delusions courtesy of Fox News, was not the path to political success.
We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.
Finally it seemed the Republican Party was abandoning its bad habits of pandering to the rabble or prostituting itself to the highest bidder. 
Finally the party leaders were taking a realistic and constructive approach to politics. 

On the Side of the CEOs
Others however took one long at the list of "do's and don't's" and realized that to implement any of these party policies would require such a radical shift in direction that conservatives (and more importantly financial donors) would have stampeded out the doors. The Republican Party wouldn't be the Republican Party at all but a cheap knock-off of the Democratic Party.

Consider this gem from the report:
We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.
The Republican Party has, since the days of Nixon, definitely not been the party of whistleblowers. It has been the party of "plumbers" trying to prevent harmful information from embarrassing powerful people. It has been the party of Koch and Adelson and hundred of others who donate to the party as secretly as possible. 
Two of the Republican candidates in 2016 are actually former CEOs who have had a reputation of living the high life on their inflated salaries. In particular Candidate Carly Fiorina fits Priebus's description of the greedy CEO perfectly.   

The Minority Vote and Republican Sincerity
Another recommendation states:
“If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show our sincerity.”
It's true. There's no question about it.Hispanic Americans in particular have had reasons to feel disenfranchised. In the last presidential election, Obama took 71% of the Latino vote and 93% of the African American vote, according to CNN exit polls. 
Warning bells should have been going off all.

As the 2013 report observes:
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.
Polls seemed to support this view today. One survey found that 43 percent of Latinos who voted for Barack Obama said they would be more likely to vote Republican in the future if Republicans take a lead role in immigration reform.

So where is the GOP leadership on this issue?
Bombastic egocentric and unrealistic Donald Trump.

Trump in the Lead
The rest of the report is veritable catalog of political wisdom.
The GOP, the report advises, "must improve how it markets its core principles and message in Hispanic communities."
That comprehensive analysis should have heralded a new direction for a party in tatters.

And yet all of that has apparently fallen on deaf ears. After autopsy, the patient has staggered out of the morgue and become a full-fledged zombie, unable to die completely and yet unable to be fully resurrected.

As evidence of the complete disarray plaguing the party, the candidates have bungled the topic of immigration reform in a variety of ways. (One wonders whether any of them actually bother to even read the GOP report.)  

At the moment, the brightest star in the Republican cavalcade is  Donald Trump. This is a man whose solution to the immigration problem is to scrub out the 14th amendment which reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state where they reside.
Another Trump idea is to build a wall using illegal immigrant slave labor and forcing Mexico to pay for it. And what's his mantra?
“If I’m elected, they’re going to be out of here day one. We’re going to get them the hell out of our country. They’re going to be out so fast your head will spin.”
He actually said that.
The Hispanic reaction to these ridiculous ideas was predictable. According to the latest poll, Gallup asked Hispanic voters to rate the Republican roster, and the news was disturbing:
Trump is fairing the worst with Hispanics, as only 14 percent view him in a positive way, compared to 65 percent who view him negatively. Trump's numbers resulted in a net-negative of -51 percent, with no candidate even coming close.
The rest of the candidates were hardly any better. Scott Walker listened what Trump said and declared that it was actually his idea. In one week, he appeared to have three different opinions on immigration reform. 

JEB yesterday went all whiny about how his "anchor baby" term was being taken out of context. He should have known better. Back before the last presidential election, Hispanic groups had condemned the term as both insensitive and derogatory. Bush then attempted to clarify by saying that he wasn't speaking about Hispanics...but Asians. (In terms of damage control, how much more inept can you be?)

Is this the engagement and sincerity that Priebus was talking about?

Surely, you may ask, Priebus as head of the RNC must be fuming. He must be denouncing Trump and any of the other candidates who have disregarded the perfectly sensible advice.
No. Not at all. 

The Zombie Awakes
During an interview on WISN-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Priebus declared that Donald Trump’s 2016 candidacy was “a positive” for the Republican Party. 

Trump, says the RNC chairman, has brought "a lot of interest" to the GOP field of presidential candidates.
Is this the kind of attention that enhances the reputation of the party? Priebus doesn't seem to think that's a major priority.
When you have 30 mıllıon people watchıng... I thınk we are showıng Amerıca that we are the young, dıverse party, offerıng a whole slew of optıons for people.
Options for a choice in candidates- yes. Oh yes. But where was the diversity of opinion, of policy and direction? 

He then quickly changed the subject to Hillary. It's a subject he prefers to discuss understandably.
The interviewer however would not let Priebus off so easily. Priebus was asked whether he would personally feel comfortable if Trump was somehow received the nomination. Was Trump even a Republican?

After all, from Trump is a Johnny-come-lately. From 1999 to 2001 he belonged to the so-called Reform Party, from 2001 to 2009, Trump was a member of the Democratic Party and from 2011 to 2012 he was an Independent.
So it's a valid question: what makes him so Republican?
Priebus replied:
I take hım at his word. He is competıng for the Republican nominatıon. He says he wants to be a Republican nominee. He has been a very generous person to our party. He and hıs family have supported the Republican Natıonal Commıttee every sıngle tıme I have come to him, every sıngle tıme he has been asked, he has given. He has come to our retreats, I have no reason not to believe that he is a republıcan.
Except that he is doing (on a spectacular scale) exactly what the RNC chairman  personally advised against only two short years ago. 
It seems as though party policy isn't as important as individuals being "generous."
You pays the money, you gets the stamp.  If you are poor or even middle class and cannot afford to make a million dollar donation to the party, then it's a very different story.
That's the last remaining but most important core principle of the Republican party.
Ironically the main criteria for determining how conservative one is in the Republican party is how much money one is willing to throw away on a lost cause. 
*   *   *
Priebus' answer was in some ways proof that nothing has changed. It's all about the money and the attitude toward minorities is every bit as ignorant and uninviting as it was under Mitt Romney.
The low-information core supporters might roar when Trump speaks, the rest of the GOP voters shudder and prepare for another disaster like 2012. 

Sadly, nothing will ever change in the Grand Old Party. The problems go to the lost heart and soul of the party.