As should be apparent to anyone who paid attention to the November 2012 election cycle, the Republican party is in electoral disarray. To call their messaging strategy tone deaf is an insult to the musically-impaired, who typically find other ways to communicate successfully. In print, web and television outreach, the GOP managed to estrange women, the scientific community and minorities with all-out assaults on female reproductive rights and workplace equality, sneers at empirical evidence of climate change and of course, a view of our nation’s immigrants as persona non grata. The really neat trick about the last bungle is the speed with which the Republican party managed to destroy the 59 percent approval rating once enjoyed by former President George W. Bush amongst Latin Americans during the majority of his term.
After an embarrassing Election Day drubbing which featured President Obama trouncing Mitt Romney with regard to women voters, African-Americans and (this statistic still stuns me) enjoying a 44-point advantage amongst Hispanics, GOP loyalists (masochists?) hoped ballot box tallies would deliver the necessary wakeup call. Republican Governors and Senators, all coincidentally I’m sure, considering a 2016 run for the White House, fell all over themselves to get to the nearest microphone. The plea, in not so many words, was clear: please stop engendering long-term revulsion for our party with backward, racist rhetoric that ignores the country’s rapidly evolving demographics. In January, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal cautioned the Republican National Committee to “Stop being the stupid party,” while 2013 It Boy, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, begged his caucus to cease using “harsh, intolerable and inexcusable” rhetoric directed at illegal immigrants, or risk losing the Latino vote in perpetuity.
And for a moment, considering the speed with which the Senate managed to come together in consideration of long-overdue, comprehensive immigration reform, it appeared that GOP party members received the message. In short order, Republicans returned to their number one priority: stonewalling the President at every turn with regard to Cabinet and judicial appointments, squashing common-sense gun reforms and scandal baiting that led former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (Newt Gingrich, people!) to caution his party against “overreach.” These are, clearly, crazy times in which we live.
But while the Republican Party goes about its daily business of painting the President as the enemy of freedom, privacy and job creation, leaders in the Senate have tried to ignore the very real fact that, when it comes to creating resurgent conservative momentum, the enemy lies within. The threatening calls, quite literally, are coming from inside the House.
Consider this week’s headline courtesy of ABC News: House Committee Would Criminalize Being Undocumented. Writers Jim Avila and Serena Marshall open the piece with the rhetorical question, “One small step for immigration in the Senate, one giant leap backward in the House?” Describing the recent work of the House Judiciary Committee on immigration reform, the article notes a “First step, making it a federal crime (misdemeanor) to be in the United States with undocumented status and repealing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), better known as the DREAM Act, that provides temporary status to people brought to the United States as children and were younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012.”
Though this proposed legislation has zero chance of passage in the Senate, or of being signed into law by President Obama, Republicans in the House have no qualms about continued waste of taxpayer time and money that results in legislation opposing the will of the American people. Depending on the poll, it is estimated that between 61 and 78 percent of voting citizens support immigration overhaul.
The response to the House’s latest shot at immigrants was immediate and profound. Avila and Marshall report that “Protestors chanting ‘shame, shame, shame, stop the pain’ and ‘Si, se puede’ (‘Yes, We Can’) caused a momentary pause in the committee at the beginning of the proceedings.” And, “The hashtag #HATEact was being used by opponents of the legislation on social media.”
Well done GOP. Nothing like welcoming Latino voters back into the fold.
However my question for today is directed at those would-be populist Republican Senators and Governors. When exactly will you stop directing your petulant, partisan griping at Obama and start taking on your real opponents, the members of your own party who will have you languishing as a fringe minority (pun most certainly intended) for all eternity?