The GOP might as well be deadBy Jonathan Capehar
The Growth and Opportunity Project, aka “the autopsy,” was heralded as the Republican Party’s clear-eyed assessment of its 2012 presidential defeat. Autopsies are done on dead things, and ever since its March 2013 release, the GOP has done everything possible to stay dead.
The Republican Party is dead to African Americans. Not that there was much of pulse to begin with. Romney won 6 percent of the black vote to 93 percent for Obama, which isn’t surprising since Romney was looking to unseat the nation’s first black president. But it is also not surprising considering all of the voter suppression efforts around the country.
That the GOP ought to try to appeal to African Americans was recognized in the autopsy. “There are numerous outside groups that are studying the best way for the Republican Party to better reach African American voters,” the report pointed out. “The Republican Party should leverage the best practices identified by such organizations.” You employ that “best practices” nonsense when you and your staff haven’t a clue what to do. And it’s clear that if Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who is black, were still head of the party, at least two egregious episodes would not have happened.
A tweet from the party’s official Twitter account on Sunday would not have celebrated Rosa Parks on the anniversary of her historic bus-boycott arrest by lauding “her role in ending racism.” Sure, the tweet was later corrected. But, come on, people. The lowest level black person at the RNC could have told them that the tweet as flat-out wrong and offensive. Not that anyone would have listened, assuming there are any low-level black people there.
That RNC tweet was so egregious that when I asked Steele about it via e-mail yesterday, all he could muster was a pitying response. “What can one say about such a gross misunderstanding of the African American experience in America.”
Another gross misunderstanding of the African American experience in America took place on Oct. 13. That was when a young man unfurled the menacing Confederate flag in front of the White House, home to a black family, as part of the protest of the government shutdown. And that was after grassy knoller Larry Klayman had called on on the president at an earlier rally “to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.” A rally where Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, also spoke. And nary a peep from the grown-ups of the party about any of this. Not the palling around with conspiracists. Not the Confederate flag. But to continue dabbling in blatant disrespect of Obama — as current RNC Chair Reince Priebus did when he said the president cultivated “a culture of hatred” — is to continue to write off African Americans.
The Republican Party is dead to Latinos. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won 27 percent of the Hispanic vote compared with 71 percent for President Obama. Therefore, winning back the Latino vote was paramount to the GOP resurrection effort, and changing its tone on immigration reform was a key part of it. “In essence,” the report notes, “Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.” The Senate put out the welcome mat in June. The House slammed the door hard in November. “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters last month. So much for the Latino vote.
Since the truth-telling of the first 12 pages of the GOP autopsy, the Republican Party has energized the black vote for the Democrats, and it’s alienated Latino voters. How it plans to regain national relevance — let alone regain the White House — without the latter is beyond me.
Oh, and if you’re tempted to say, as I was, that there was a lesson for the GOP in black and brown in the reelection of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, think again. He won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote because he promised to support the Garden State’s version of the DREAM Act, which is making its way through the legislature. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, who will need the far-right conservative base to win it, flip-flopped on that promise last week.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj