You'd think the GOP would've gotten a clue after Harry Reid's decisive win in 2010. But no. Seems they were the only ones who didn't know they had a fatal minority math problem. The result? A 2012 election night that literally left them "shell-shocked."
More than a week later, and Republicans are still going through the Five Stages of Grief. I've only seen Denial, Anger and Depression from them. I suppose Bargaining is unthinkable, and if there's any Acceptance it's drowned in bitterness. The situation is so bad folks are mocking them all over the internet. (Check out this interview with Jenny Feinberg, the creator of the White People Mourning Romney Tumbler page.)
So what's a "shell-shocked" party to do in the face of crushing defeat? Well, when it's the Republican Party, there's no soul searching required. Why go navel-gazing when you're convinced the problem lies with the shiftless moochers who didn't vote for you?
Bill O'Reilly on Obama voters:
Offensive? You betcha, and from the polling numbers, it appears many minorities, including African American conservatives, heard the dog whistles. Cord Jefferson of Gawker agrees in an article titled, "How the Republicans Lost Another Black Supporter:"
I recently asked my father how he feels seeing so many of his fellow Republicans gleefully slinging unvarnished anti-black antipathy at our president and others. He said that while it makes him a bit angry, he's mostly disappointed by the degradation of an institution he once respected, and which he believes once respected him…..My father spent his whole life living up to the standards Republicans ostensibly expected of him, because that's what came naturally to him. But he can never be white, and, more and more, that seems to preclude him from inclusion in the party where he once found a home. My dad has been a Republican since he could first vote, and he told me once that he will almost certainly die a Republican. But this year, he's supporting President Obama.In the same vein, Darth Thulhu responded to another poster in the comment section of Rod Dreher's article titled "GOP, Black Voters, & The Broken Record" at the American Conservative:
"If you are remotely serious about investigating the rationales of your black neighbors, you will find a diverse variety of reasons why even socially conservative, fiscally conservative black Americans refuse to give the Republican Party the time of day. Those reasons boil down to active and passive malice on the part of the Republican Party and its propaganda corps against these Americans’ equal access to impartial justice, unrestricted voting rights, and basic human dignity."(I recommend reading Thulhu's comment in its entirety. It's brilliant.)
The GOPs chances of recapturing the black vote appear to be slim to none. That's not to say it's impossible, but maybe climbing Mount Ararat would be a damn sight easier. I guess this is where the depth of my cynicism comes in. Considering the last four years of Republican tribalism, how could their racist elements not destroy whatever good remained within the party? Witness the moderates who either abandoned ship or were forced to walk the plank by the crazies. Bigotry has saturated the party to such an extent that they may not even care about regaining the black vote. The problem is that systemic.
From what I've observed, those GOPers who see the racial divide, either don't understand it, or refuse to acknowledge the GOPs part in creating it. Dick Morris is one such example. Watch how he gives his biased perspective about how Republicans (historically speaking) lost the black vote and why they shouldn't make the same mistakes with Hispanics (cue Marco Rubio promo). This video was first published on Jul 16, 2012.
Notice he doesn't cover the '70s, '80s or '90s--when Republicans gleefully blew their dog whistles, digging an even deeper racial divide. There's no mention of Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy, Karl Rove, Willie Horton or Jesse Helms' Hands. No mention of contemporary rabble-rousers like Sean Hannity or the plethora of other Republican racist nonsense. He just segues into his Hispanic vote recommendations, leaving the unspoken reality that the GOP has probably killed its chances with AAs. Notice too that he offers no suggestions for how to fix this.
Obviously the Republicans are desperate to draw more Hispanics. It's all they seem to be talking about as of late. An article titled, "How the Republican party can rebuild — in 4 not-so-easy steps," offers some suggestions:
Find a way into the Hispanic community:….“We have to stop closing the door on Hispanic voters,” said Republican pollster Glen Bolger. “Without them, we can’t win another national election.” ... What Republicans can do — from a policy perspective — to convince Hispanics that they are on their side is a bit murkier, although every Republican strategist we talked to insisted that the party needs to cut a deal on immigration reform — a move that would allow a values conversation to happen. And that’s a conversation GOPers believe they can win.The only question is how? Hispanics don't have a beehive mentality any more than African Americans or whites do. True, immigration is an important issue to them, but it's also true that they care about all of the same issues that concern other minorities. And what's this about "values?" Does the GOP believe Hispanic values are different than the ones held by Blacks, Asians and Native Americans? Call me a cynic, but whenever Republicans start talking about values, I hear divide and conquer.
Andrea Shalal-Esa of REUTERS writes in her article, "Republican Outreach Leaves Immigrants, Minority Groups Skeptical:"
Michael Omi, a leading scholar on U.S. racial politics at the University of California, Berkeley, said the Republican party faced a crisis in how to adapt to changing demographics, which show blacks, Latinos, Asians and others will eclipse whites as a majority of the U.S. population in three decades, without moving away from its core constituency of white males … He said it was still unclear if Asian-Americans and Latinos would be increasingly accepted as "honorary whites," which could align them more closely with the Republican party while perpetuating a black-white divide, or if the country would move toward a new, more multi-faceted view of race.If the GOP goes this route, they'll be treading old ground. The 'honorary white' ploy is from an ancient playbook. One where rich elites pitted poor and working class whites against minorities of the same economic stations. Pam Spaulding writes in her blogpost, "Will we see a new ‘Southern Strategy’ — break up the 2012 minority vote coalition by doling out privilege?":
It obviously wouldn’t be the first time, as history has shown us, ethnic white minorities (e.g., Irish, Italians) in this country were treated no better than American blacks, but those groups achieved full white status and privilege over time and became part of the dominant culture — along with the benefits accorded by that.But this strategy is even older than Ellis Island. It goes all the way back to the colonial period when the rich and powerful first devised a way to remain ... well, rich and powerful. Tim Wise breaks it down:
In the U.S., for instance, planter elites during the colonial period used the notion of whiteness as a way to split class-based coalitions that often developed between enslaved Africans and indentured Europeans (who were only slightly above slaves themselves). Afraid of rebellions that would threaten their power and their material domination of the poor, elites carved out special legal protections for all Europeans, which placed them above persons of color, and gave them a stake in the system. The landowners and political elites also utilized poor whites on slave patrols, to give them a sense that they were a vital bulwark against black uprisings, and regularly stressed the superiority of Europeans. By convincing white working people that their interests were rooted in skin color, rather than economic need, wealthy Europeans helped link the development of the class system to the development of white supremacy.A 1790 federal law aided this divide:
"Being of European descent, Italian Americans (as with the Irish and Jews) were able to “become white” via assimilation, and were aided in the process by the Naturalization Act of 1790, which granted citizenship in the U.S. to all “free white persons.” Indeed it was that ability to become instant citizens that prompted large-scale immigration of European ethnics in the 19th and 20th centuries in the first place: an early form of whites-only affirmative action if you will."Since the GOP seems to have written African Americans off, will they just target Hispanics without resorting to their old bag of tricks? Or will the leopards and spots adage play out? But the bigger question is, how will minorities respond? Spaulding writes:
Will Latino and Asian voters resist that temptation if approached by the GOP with siren songs of privilege, or see through this attempt to continue an unhealthy fixation on race rather than the policies of the party? Given how ham-handed and unsophisticated that the Republicans have been in their sudden conversion (less than 24 hours after the election) to see the value of the Latino vote, I think they are going to have a hard time convincing reality-based people of color to divide and conquer.I still have hope. Many whites and minorities are sick of the old ways. The white ex-Republican in the video below is no exception. Like many Americans, he knows the GOP will never be a viable party until they step into the 21st century and respect the intelligence, diversity and legitimacy of EVERY citizen in this great country.
But they will try. And it will be ugly.