Republicans at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference were adamant the reason they got battered in the 2012 presidential election was because they didn’t get their story out.
I’m pretty sure they could turn blue in the face telling their story to Hispanics, Asians, blacks, professional women, gays and lesbians, college students, mom and pop proprietors, teachers, union members and the unemployed and not change a single mind. Their story just ain’t that hot.
But keep thinking that way, boys, and you’ll be grousing about another election disaster at CPAC-2017.
Republicans’ latest gasp is outreach to Hispanics by cynically shifting their long-standing opposition to a path to citizenship for illegals to gain votes. But that Sen. Marco Rubio, a leader on immigration reform, carefully avoided mentioning it in a major speech at CPAC tells me their new “inclusiveness” tour has more to do with style than substance.
Also speaking, former Gov. Jeb Bush insisted Republicans’ rebranding efforts include “leveling the playing field” by ensuring equal opportunity for everyone regardless of family background or income. But leveling the playing field requires exactly what Republicans deplore, government intercession and plenty of it.
You’re talking prenatal and early childhood support, Head Start, school lunches, tutoring, Pell Grants, Medicaid, Affirmative Action, job training, possibly food stamps and rental assistance and a myriad of other social programs to prepare the underprivileged for good paying jobs. Policies Democrats call their platform and Republicans call hell.
Here’s the problem for conservatives. The country they think they remember and love no longer exists, if it ever did.
But that wasn’t America. That was one snapshot of America, and a fading Polaroid at that. America is and always has been about change.
The 1950s was an America before civil rights, women’s emancipation, the Cultural Revolution, accelerated climate change, market consolidation and domination, Wall Street recklessness, off-shoring, stagnant middle class wages and growing economic inequality, massive Latino and Asian immigration, social estrangement and a multipolar world. But Republicans still want to offer Barry Goldwater responses.
Two other essential American qualities are compromise and pragmatism. But what do Republicans offer voters? A party that abhors change, refuses to compromise and chooses dogmatism over pragmatism. Where in America’s past have those behaviors ever worked?
So, a bunch of cranky, mostly white, men clinging to a version of America that only worked for white men expect the changing face of America will want to go back there, if only Republicans could get out their story.
I need to go to next year’s conference to get some of what they’re smoking.