The GOP seems to be careening toward self-destruction. First, Republicans elected and sent to Washington have refused to work since the election of President Obama. They have filibustered, essentially stalling or stopping the federal government from the job it was elected to do, saying no to everything from funding of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to filibustering a vote to extend unemployment for millions of people who have lost their jobs and homes.
Republicans filibustered a bill to fund American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator Tom Coburn held up a bill that would benefit U.S. veterans.
After the devastating losses dealt to the GOP in November, 2008, it seemed reasonable to assume that Republicans would see the need to grow the party but instead, they have all but created a litmus test for inclusion in the party. Elected Republicans were soon enamored of the passion of tea party radicals and some encouraged their constituents to “take up arms.” Some self-identified Republican radicals talked sedition when they encouraged the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Any Republican who showed any signs of being a moderate or anything less than extremely conservative was deemed unworthy of the party. The first instance we saw of this was in NY 23, a district in which a Democrat had not won since before the Civil War. The Republican who was running for the seat, was a ‘shoo-in’ and expected to win handily over the Democrat. But tea party factions stepped in and presented a more conservative Republican to the district, ignoring the qualified Republican who then stepped out of the race. The seat went to the Democrat.
Governor Charlie Crist of Florida was seen as a moderate Republican simply because he treated the President of the United States of America with respect. To paraphrase Chris Matthews on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” ‘Charlie Crist was bounced out of the GOP because he hugged the President.’ The members of Maher’s panel agreed that the litmus test that a Republican candidate must pass today is that he or she must hate President Obama. Are there any moderates left in the Republican party?
The GOP seems intent on becoming a small tent party, an exclusive club of people who walk the line set out, some hint, by Minority leader Mitch McConnell (KY). Republicans who once sponsored or co-sponsored immigration reform bills, Republicans like John McCain of Arizona, suddenly became hearty supporters of the Arizona ‘papers please’ bill passed into law by the Governor of Arizona last week.
The only recalcitrant Republicans who get a pass are conservative Republicans who call themselves good Christian men but who have lurid affairs outside of marriage. Conservative Republican Aseemblyman, Michael Duvall was caught on tape bragging about his sexual exploits. Republican South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford tearfully confessed that he hadn’t been hiking the Appalachian trail at all during his mysterious disappearance last year. Instead he was with his mistress in Argentina. Nevada Senator John Ensign paid his mistress, her husband and their son on advice from his creepy C Street ‘brothers.’ It seems that Republicans can do or say whatever they like as long as they don’t like President Obama.
When Republicans went postal on anti-immigration in the last week, it was not just disappointing, it was bewildering. As a party that is shrinking in size and power, they have very effectively cut a large swathe through the population that could be potential Republicans and they’ve done it with gusto. Other states’ Republican leaders have vowed to follow Arizona’s lead and make it legal and indeed mandatory to check anyone who might appear to be Hispanic for ‘papers’ in their own states.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James of Alabama has released a controversial television advertisement saying if he is governor, everyone will have to speak English if they want to get a driver’s license. It seems an odd move in a state that gives huge corporate tax relief to German, Japanese and Korean automakers who have built plants in the state. Perhaps James is betting on anti-immigrant sentiment in Alabama, a state not particularly known to be tolerant.
A Republican in Iowa said he believes illegal immigrants should have microchips implanted in their heads. Another Republican in California says that children born in America to illegal immigrants shouldn’t be considered Americans because they don’t have American “souls.” It is the voices of the right wing fringe that speak the loudest for the Republican party. The future of the GOP appears bleak. They may win in the short term by pandering to the basest of their base resulting in a few extra seats in Congress this November. But to alienate Hispanics, women and minorities is short-sighted.
A 2008 Census Bureau report projects that by 2042, non-Hispanic whites will no longer make up the majority of the population, where it is projected to fall from 68% in 2008 to 46% in 2042. Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and the draconian measures made by the state of Arizona earlier this week and the threats by other Republicans to follow suit simply makes no sense in terms of the future of the Republican party.
In just a few decades, Hispanics and other minorities will outnumber white people in the U.S. If the GOP continues to alienate every group of citizens who is non-white, the party cannot survive.