I spent some time this morning familiarizing myself with the Republican Party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” document, or “GOP” for short. Get it? It’s an unintentionally hilarious report that seeks to repair the demographic hemorrhaging at the federal level of the party — the accelerating marginalization of Republicans due to the same nonsense we witnessed over the weekend at CPAC.
RNC chairman and Mos Eisley cantina alien Reince Priebus introduced the report over the weekend in time for the conservative cosplay gathering in Maryland, and it sounds as if he’s ballyhooing the plan as the centerpiece of his legacy as chairman. Even though it was authored by Henry Barbour, Sally Bradshaw, Ari Fleischer, Zori Fonalledas, and Glenn McCall, it’s Priebus’ magic wand for fixing everything — I mean everything — that’s devouring the party.
Now, it’s important to preface by agreeing with one thing about this document: Priebus is well aware that his party is kicking ass at the state level, and it’s a claim that can’t be denied. Thirty states are controlled by Republican governors, that’s 315 electoral votes, and many of those states also boast Republican-controlled legislatures. It’d be a huge mistake to categorically write off the Republican Party because, at least for now, they appear to be dominating state and local politics, as evidenced by the daily blotter of awfulness from various state capitals, including union-busting, reproductive rights infringements, electoral tampering and so forth.
That said, at the national level, a majority of Americans generally wouldn’t cross the street to piss on a Republican’s shoe. In fact, the “GOP” (zing!) report included a brief description of two focus groups, one in Ohio and another in Iowa, in which Republican voters described their own part as “scary,” “narrow minded,” “out of touch” and the party of “stuffy old men.” Yikes.
Consequently, the party has only won the popular vote in one presidential election throughout the last 20 years and, in 2012, even though it retained control of the House of Representatives, more people voted for Democratic House candidates than Republicans. The national voting dynamics are lining up significantly against the party, and Priebus believes this “GOP” document (har-har) can solve the crisis.
So rather than trying to dissect all 100 pages (whatever happened to the GOP demand for short, easy-to-read documents?) I’ll hit the top-level section, “Demographic Partners,” and perhaps tackle further sections in the coming days.
The line that immediately jumped off the page was this — and try not to laugh:
“The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect, and we need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles.”
Hmm. Is it me or is this a strange thing to write, since the party’s grip on its base is entirely dependent upon intolerance and disrespect? As we’re all aware by now, the party routinely exploits Southern Strategy race-baiting as one of its primary campaign tactics as a means of getting its base out to the polls. A considerable section of the party wants to round up a deport undocumented workers, while others would like nothing more than to eliminate programs for the poor. Likewise, state level Republican success has much to do with returning women to second class status, while their reproductive organs are being hastily sanctioned as the purview of men who don’t mind condescending to women about what’s best for them.
And just in case anyone wants to accuse me of seeing racial dog-whistles and disrespect where it doesn’t exist, here are some very recent examples.
–During a panel at CPAC titled “Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You’re Not One?” an attendee stood up and, among other things, implied that Frederick Douglass and other former slaves should’ve been grateful to their former masters for providing them with “food and shelter.” Additionally, the attendee, a member of “Towson’s White Student Union,” asked the African American speaker, “Why can’t we just have segregation?” Other attendees applauded and cheered. Yeah, so much for the title of the lecture. Shocker: the Republican Party is loaded with racists.
–Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh said, “Young people have this almost romantic attachment to civil rights, civil liberties.” Oh those young dreamers and their silly romantic notions.
–One of the rising stars of the Republican Party and the best-received CPAC speaker, Rand Paul, is a nullification zealot whose roots extend back to John C. Calhoun and the states’ right pro-slavery fire-eaters of the early to mid 19th Century. Oh, and Rand Paul is opposed to key sections of the Civil Rights Act.
–Speaking of which, the party’s hero on the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia infamously referred to the Voting Rights Act as being a “racial entitlement.”
–Straight-talking Jersey maverick Chris Christie referred to an African American attendee at a town hall meeting as “boy.” During a contentious exchange about privatizing public schools (Christie supports vouchers — a back-door path to privatization), an black constituent shouted, “Fix the public schools.” Christie, in full dick-move fashion, “Yeah, I hear ya’ boy.”
The list goes on and on. The “GOP” report itself intends to lie to African American voters about its history:
“The African American community has a lot in common with the Republican Party, and it is important to share this rich history.”
“Engage historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the goal of educating the community on Republican ideals and the Party’s history.”
Clearly, all of this refers to the fact that a Republican president freed the slaves and how southern Democrats supported segregation and Jim Crow laws. But what the modern Republicans probably won’t tell the so-called “HBCUs” is that southern Democrats were conservatives, and Lincoln had considerably more in common with modern center-left Democrats. He supported a strong central government (he raised troops and went to war to protect it), he staunchly opposed nullification and states’ rights, he authorized spending for the first transcontinental railroad (infrastructure!), he started the first national bank and he instituted the first federal income tax — all measures that would’ve made Lincoln a pariah in the eyes of today’s Republicans, especially the Rand Paul style libertarian Republicans. Coupling Lincoln with today’s Republicans is nothing short of a lie.
The very notion of entering “HBCUs” and “educating” them about the party’s history is utterly condescending — as if students at these universities aren’t aware of all of the above already, as if they don’t know what the Republican Party is all about when it comes to matters of race and reconciliation.
Tomorrow, I’ll cover more nonsense from the “GOP” report, though I can’t imagine it being more outrageous and absurd than the minority outreach section.