The Republican Party as we knew it is dead. No longer are they going to compete in any serious way in national elections. And while they might be able to win state races and gerrymandered congressional seats, they will no longer be able to play on the big stage because of how they’ve behaved for the past five years under President Obama.
It didn’t have to be this way. They could’ve learned from the shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, and taken a more moderate approach to the Obama years. They could have condemned the racist birthers or those in their own right flank who think bringing a Confederate flag to the White House with a Black family inside is no big deal. They could have spent the last five years debating policy, but instead they have entered in the dangerous territory of attacking the president as a person.
The GOP has refused to condemn racist rhetoric since President Obama took office. This weekend during a “vets” rally to protest the shutdown, Larry Klayman said to a cheering crowd at an event attended by Sarah Palin and Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands out.”
Mainstream conservatives have tried to get the focus off the racist rhetoric, but the damage was done.
After the two-week shutdown, the Republican Party’s approval rating is lower than ever. A whopping 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the GOP’s handling of the manufactured government shutdown crisis. More than 90 percent of African-Americans voted for President Obama in 2012. And other people of color backed the president as well with 71 percent of Latinos and 73 percent of Asians voting for Obama in 2012.
The reason for these bleak numbers in support of the Republican Party is both the result of rhetoric and policy. It’s very difficult to win over Black voters when your party’s mascot, Rush Limbaugh, refers to the regal and fabulous First Lady as “Moochelle” Obama on a regular basis. Sure, Limbaugh is a carnival barker and frequently says things simply to drive ratings and be outrageous. But when the mainstream Republican Party co-signs him and refuses to condemn his rhetoric, the entire GOP gets painted with the Limbaugh brush.
The real reason the GOP is in big trouble is Latino voters are the single group that stand to benefit the most from Obamacare. Yes, the same Obamacare that Republicans shut down the government over. Couple that with the birtherism, jingoism, anti-immigrant rhetoric and you have the perfect recipe for never again winning the White House. And while those gerrymandered House districts may make the Republican Party pretty safe from the threat of losing the House in 2014, the latest Cook Report that specializes in ranking safe House districts moved 14 seats in the direction of Democrats just in the two weeks since the shutdown began.
“Mostly as a result of the damage House Republicans sustained during the 16-day government shutdown, we are making changes to our ratings in 15 House seats, all but one in Democrats' direction," Cook Political Report said in a statement.
The Republican Party’s often racially charged attacks on the president are not just something that turns off Black voters. If the 2012 cycle was any indication, it turns off voters of all political stripes and colors, including nearly three quarters of Latinos and Asians, voting to maintain a Democratic White House. If the GOP doesn’t wise up to that fact, they are going to be in exile nationally for a generation or more.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)