Does the Grand Old Party have a plan to self-deport? Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham advised presidential candidate Mitt Romney that “If you can’t beat Obama with this record, then shut down the party.” But Romney may have already put his shutdown plan in motion. The Tampa convention appeared to be a tussle over who could concoct the most implausible assertions rather than a quadrennial coronation of a candidate. By sidling up to his party’s extreme wing, Romney has rejected suggestions of party moderates to appeal to blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women and anyone who has ever received a check from the government (which happens to include his father, many readers of this paper, and indirectly, all my colleagues in the vast military-industrial complex). Is this what “shutdown” looks like in 2012?
Inclusivity is not required by law, only by common sense and political reality. As America grows increasingly more diverse, future presidents will be those who appeal to the broadest spectrum of voters – that’s how democracy works. Demographics – the statistical characteristics of a population – is the force propelling Texas into “swing state” status in future elections. Can South Carolina be far behind? America is changing at warp speed. Those who pray for Miss Liberty to stand still will be disappointed. The political winners are never those who deny change, but those who recognize and exploit it to their party’s advantage.
Insisting travelers will never trade their horses for horseless carriages is not a crime. Republicans should not be penalized for their lack of oratorical skills or for staging a dull convention. But penalties are in order for asking us to believe that they have superior plans in domestic and foreign policy and then refusing to discuss any of them in any useful level of detail.
Detail, however, can lead to gaffes. Not everyone in the Republican Party is as gaffe-prone as the RNC and Romney’s campaign team. But what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness” – gut-feel declarations that ignore reason and logic – seems to be a persistent problem. Many of us feel so strongly about important issues that we are adamant about the irrefutability of our views. Fortunately for our nation’s future, fact checking has become so widespread that data and evidence seem to be gaining the upper hand over what our guts tell us.
Our guts, for instance, may tell us that putting a minority representative on stage and having him describe how the GOP supports that minority’s interests will win voters’ hearts and minds. Yet as impressive as he is, Marco Rubio is not the party’s answer to appealing to more Hispanics. Michael Steele and Clarence Thomas are accomplished black Republicans, but have little in common with the communities the party must appeal to if they are to win in the fall. More appealing policies might help.
Even if President Obama wins, Congress may have enough Republicans to shut down his administration for another four years. If you are self-abusively partisan, this may be your Plan B. But be careful what you wish for. As the electorate awakens to where the gridlock is coming from, they are beginning to see Republican Party self-deportation as a promising solution to the overwhelming national problems aggravated by Congressional inaction.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.