The GOP’s march to Irrelevancy

Antonio X. Garcia November 15, 2012 0
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Election day, November 6th, 2012 had finally arrived. The Mitt Romney- Paul Ryan presidential campaign was on, what they confidently believed, a path to ultimate victory. The economy was improving at a snails-pace, national unemployment was close to 8%, and frustration amongst Americans had reached a boiling point. There was absolutely no way the Democratic incumbent would win reelection. A presidential transition website from Obama to Romney was created by the GOP and a heart-pounding fireworks show was set to begin.

But then reality set in and, at 8:18 PM PST, CNN made the following projection…

We project that (Barack Obama) will carry the state of Ohio. By carrying Ohio, he wins reelection. The President of the United States defeats Mitt Romney.

Disbelief and devastation began to set in on the GOP’s side. “We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory. I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming,” one senior adviser to the Romney campaign stated. Another adviser described the Republican presidential candidate as “shellshocked.” Despite raising a whopping $881 million to defeat Barack Obama, Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations were crushed… decisively. When all was said and done, the final electoral count was 332 votes for Obama (D), 206 for Romney (R). A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to win the Presidency of the United States. Despite numerous national polls showing a close race and Obama with a slight lead over Romney, Republicans felt their candidate was going to pull out a victory thereby ushering in a new era of conservative ideology at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Americans, however, rejected that notion by not only voting to extend President Obama’s residency in the White House, but also by increasing the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, as well as decreasing the number of Republican-held seats in the House of Representatives.

What went wrong for the “Grand Ole Party”

One week after suffering a humiliating political defeat by the hands of American voters, the Republican Party has found itself licking it’s wounds, trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. Considering the current state of the economy, high unemployment, and massive yearly deficits, the GOP is bewildered that such an incumbent president would even garner enough votes to make the race for the White House competitive, let alone win reelection.

Republicans, however, need not look far to find answers to their burning questions. The party has systematically alienated itself from America’s increasingly diverse citizens by allowing the divisive, and ultra-conservative Tea Party movement to become the face of the GOP. In order to quench the Republican presidential nomination, Romney embraced the Tea Party’s radical rhetoric that targeted minority groups such as Latinos, Gays and Lesbians, and women. This, along with other blunders made by Romney during the presidential campaign, would ultimately lead to his defeat at the polls on November 6th. The Republican Party was now seen as a party catering to Caucasian upper-class Americans and conservative evangelicals, with no desire to build inroads with the country’s various and diverse minority groups.

Disenfranchising Latinos

Considering Latino voters are one of the fastest growing voter blocs in the country, it may not be a good idea to marginalize and degrade them. But that is exactly what Mitt Romney did during the Republican primaries earlier this year when he made clear he wanted to make economic conditions so bad for illegal immigrants that they would choose to “self-deport” themselves. Romney also went on to attack the Obama-endorsed DREAM Act… a law that would have granted a path to citizenship for undocumented youth who attend college or serve in the armed forces. “That kind of magnet draws people into this country… it makes no sense,” Romney is quoted as saying. If this wasn’t enough, Romney then announced his support of Arizona’s SB 1070 anti-immigration bill by declaring it a “model for the country.” SB 1070 gives  Arizona police the authority to question and arrest individuals they suspect as being in the country illegally. Critics of the law countered by saying SB 1070 enshrines racial profiling against Latinos in Arizona state law.

The anti-illegal immigrant statements, while embraced by the far right-wing elements of the Republican Party, drew utter disgust from the Latino community and they made the GOP pay by supporting President Obama over Mitt Romney 71% to 27% in the election. “Mitt Romney made some mistakes… I think Mitt Romney’s comments are a symptom. I think the disease is the fact that the far right of the party controls the primary process,” stated Republican Hispanic Chairman Carlos Gutierrez.

Restricting LGBT civil rights by government intervention

Over the course of the presidential campaign, Republicans became very vocal about their desire to limit the size of government. They leveled massive criticism on the Obama Administration for increasing the size of government by imposing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) on all Americans. The Tea Party-controlled GOP made clear they wanted to eliminate ObamaCare, shrink government, and initiate massive spending cuts on public health and entitlement programs, such as MediCare and Social Security. Ironically, the GOP also made clear they wanted to use the government as an instrument to restrict the rights of the LGBT community by pressing for the passage of a federal constitutional amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage throughout the country. Social conservatives from the GOP argued that Gays and Lesbians wanted to infiltrate and destroy traditional families therefore a federal constitutional same-sex marriage ban was needed to save traditional marriage.

The outrage expressed by the GOP was not just limited to the LGBT community but also to President Barack Obama. During the President’s first term in office he overturned the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which forbid Gays and Lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. Obama also refused to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” in court, a law that denies benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. The tip of the iceberg, however, came this past May when President Obama came out in full support of same-sex marriage. Equating it the civil rights movement, Obama declared all Americans, whether straight or gay, should not be denied constitutionally-protected rights solely for whom they choose to love. Recognizing the historic milestone that was just achieved, the LGBT community erupted in celebration and Newsweek even declared Obama America’s “first Gay President.” Although the president was showered in praise from various corners within the Democratic Party, the GOP’s anger had reached a boiling point. “Obama had declared war on traditional marriage,” they charged. The divide between the Republican Party and LGBT Americans had reached a new high.

The GOP’s “War on Women”

The 2012 election cycle saw many minorities fall between the GOP’s hyper partisan rhetorical radar,  and women were no exception. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, women overcame men in population by 50.8% to 49.2% yet that still did not prevent the GOP from attacking one of the women’s rights movement’s most coveted accomplishments… 1973′s Roe vs Wade which legalized abortion throughout the country. During the GOP primaries, Republican presidential candidates announced their unequivocal commitment to overturning a woman’s right to choose. After winning the nomination to represent his party, Governor Romney also went as far as to declare his intent to eradicate all funding to Planned Parenthood and to install pro-life judges to the U.S. Supreme Court which would eventually lead to the eradication of Roe vs Wade. Over the summer we also witnessed a couple leading Republican Tea Party politicians make some very damaging and offensive remarks about rape. 

Seeing an opportunity to absorb the electoral power of female voters, Democrats accused the GOP of beginning a “War on Women.” A study found that abortion accounted for only 3% of the overall services provided by Planned Parenthood while other services such as STD testing and treatment (35%), cancer screening and mammo’s (16%), contraception (35%) and other health services for women (11%) made up the remaining bulk. That still did not stop the Republican Party from demanding a total cessation of funding to PP. Women began fuming and as a result made their wrath known in the presidential election by supporting Obama over Romney with a 55% majority.

To survive, Republicans must evolve

The time has come for the Republican Party to open it’s doors to all Americans, not just to a select few, if they want to ensure their survival. Minorities such as Latinos, African-Americans, and the LGBT community have been turned off by the negative, and angry rhetoric that continues to be spewed from the ultra conservative Right. The GOP must dig deep within themselves and evolve on positions they have staunchly defended in the past, such as the anti-immigrant, and anti-Gay policies if they want to survive and become a player again in future presidential elections. When you have extreme elements of the Republican Party referring to Latinos in the United States as an “infestation from Mexico,” or degrade same-sex marriage as “fag marriage,” the results can only be damaging and will lead to a massive decline in Republican voter registration and that is what we are seeing today. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better. We have to change our positions on social issues… It means embracing a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage and sensible immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. And we have to speak out against the extremes of the party, against the Rush Limbaughs, who make outrageous comments that alienate young voters, moderate voters and minority voters, including Asians and Latinos,” declared Republican consultant Matt David. The question is will the Republican Party come to this realization and embrace change? Democrats have led by example by welcoming diverse communities into the party, but can the GOP do the same or will their march to irrelevancy continue? Time will only tell.



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