For several weeks following Election Day, the Republican Party decided it was time to evolve (irony intended) and to reach out to various demographic groups as a means of reinvigorating the future of the party.
As we’ve discussed, the Republicans have become increasingly regionalized and monochromatic, with dwindling support among women and nearly zero support among minorities. Beyond that, their messaging on issues like gun control is increasingly archaic and voters are generally fed up with their continued economic sabotage and brinksmanship on the economy — the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling and so on.
So, naturally, a Republican Outreach Effort (previous posts here and here) was engaged as a means for the party to repair its image before it’s too late and it goes the way of the Whigs. However, the tea party base and the conservative entertainment complex, as David Frum calls it, will never allow the party to soften its posture on core positions like reproductive rights, immigration and the social safety net. 30 years of bumper sticker marketing and simplistic, kneejerk, opposite-day nonsense has become embedded in the party’s overly-mutated, inbred gene pool.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, and perhaps good for the rest of us, the outreach effort isn’t going very well. In fact, I would suggest it’s basically over. And many of us knew that would be the case the second they began to talk about it.
Prepare to get your schadenfreude on — here’s how badly it’s going.
More Brinksmanship. The Republicans allowed us to temporarily careen over the fiscal cliff by delaying a vote in the House on the final deal in by nearly one full day, and now they’re continuing to flirt with the ridiculous idea of not passing an increase in the debt ceiling. It’s 2011 all over again, and definitely not a positive move towards more adult behavior, as if that would ever happen with this crew. Strike that — it’s actually the middle 1990s again, with Republicans threatening another government shutdown even though it worked out horribly for them the first time around (President Clinton was re-elected and Newt Gingrich’s speakership began to fall apart). Ironically, it’s Newt Gingrich who’s pitching the idea this time around. Come to think of it, Gingrich was suggesting the same thing in 2011. If I was the president, I would dare the Republicans to listen to Gingrich this time. Then, as soon as a pile of Republicans came out in support of it, I’d invoke the 14th Amendment and raise the debt ceiling without them.
Latino Outreach. Chairman of the Republican Crazy Caucus, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), introduced his first unconstitutional bill of the new Congress. Specifically, it’s a law that cuts to the heart of the 14th Amendment — this time the birthright citizenship clause. King’s bill strips citizenship away from children of undocumented immigrants, so called “anchor babies” — children born inside the United States. Not only will this further anger Latino voters, but it also emphasizes how the Republicans simply aren’t interested in protecting children after they’ve been successfully birthed. King has 13 Republican co-sponsors. You know, because of the outreach effort.
Reproductive Rights. In addition to passing new and increasingly radical laws against women at the state legislative level, Ann Coulter proposed an idea that probably won’t help to rally other women around the far-right Republican cause. On Sean Hannity’s show last week, and during a discussion about gun control, Coulter proposed that the government make a list of all women who’ve had abortions. Yes, that’s right, during one of the most difficult ordeals of a woman’s life why not force her to become a humiliating and dangerous public target for threats, assault and domestic terrorism by putting her name on a government list. And if you think Coulter’s just a lone nut seeking attention, Texas just moved another step closer to this idea. By the way, Coulter also accused women of using Medicare to get abortions — you know, all those pregnant 65-year-olds getting abortions. (Never mind the Hyde Amendment that prohibits the use of federal money for abortions.) Oh, and good job allowing the Violence Against Women Act expire, Republicans. Smart.
Gun Control. In spite of Joe Scarborough’s passionate case for reversing the Repulblican posture on gun control, the party has not only resisted proposals for new laws banning assault weapons, but Republicans across the country have proposed arming school officials: teachers, principals and other staffers, thus turning schools into war-zones — an escalating arms race, with children in the crossfire. Meanwhile, Senators Lindsey Graham and John Barrasso more or less pledged to vote against another assault rifle ban.
While Republicans are definitely weakened and appear to be self-destructing, they’re still capable of making sure all of these things get passed. You can call it death rattle or a last desperate move to cling to their Uncle-Rico-from-Napoleon-Dynamite quest for time travel — in this case, to return to their long, lost white, Christian 1950s Utopia. But they continue to carry enough weight, enough numbers and enough crazy-strength to seriously foul up the works.