GOP Stalwarts Deny Any Change is Needed

No U-Turn sign
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the entirely predictable GOP civil war is moving forward nicely, with those who see the demographic writing on the wall calling for some basic changes to not only messaging, but actual policy. One GOP pollster, for example, said the party needs to jettison it's homophobia. "We should remain a pro-life party, but we will get nowhere being a party standing against gay rights," warned Whit Ayres. Other prejudices and idiocies are suggested for the chopping block as well.

That many Republicans are wising up and realizing that attacking everyone other than straight evangelical white males is electoral suicide is probably a good thing for the nation. That they seem to be losing the argument to the knuckledraggers is good news for Democrats. The change-nothing faction within the GOP is "the more dominant voice, and the one gaining currency within the center of the party," according to WSJ.

It asserts that Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama was primarily a tactical failure, a combination of poor articulation of GOP positions and a weak effort to register voters and move them to the polls. Better execution on both, they say, would have swung the few hundred thousand votes in a few states that would have tipped the presidential election the other way.

This contingent, which includes many Republican governors, points to a wide range of shortcomings that it faults for the party's failings in the presidential and a number of Senate races. Among those: poor candidates, a shoddy turnout machine and an overall tone that didn't resonate well with young voters, minorities and women.

But few in this camp believe deeper surgery is needed. "It is critically important we remain true to who we are," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in an interview here at the meeting of the Republican Governors Association. "We have to figure out how to make our principles more attractive to emerging voters. But if we abdicate those, we become a very different entity."

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad summed up this argument nicely. "We need candidates that don't say dumb things," he said.

Yes, Richard Mourdock's position on rape as a blessing wasn't the problem -- the problem was that he put it so poorly. Sugarcoat it a little and everyone will swallow it. This is denial on steroids.

But what can you expect from people guided more by their ideology than by reason? As I've pointed out before, it's pretty much impossible to accept the core "pro-life" position -- that life begins at conception -- and also allow exceptions to abortion bans. Saying they shouldn't talk about that position ignores the fact that they'll eventually be forced to vote on it. And, when that time comes, they'll vote their consciences and have to explain why they think women should be forced to carry a rapist's baby to term. The discussion is unavoidable. Once you begin to have that conversation, there's no way to spin things to suddenly make this lunatic argument any more popular.

And the same goes for every fringe issue down the line. Sooner or later, you're going to have to say what you believe and that's going to end you. In fact, the fallout would probably be even worse for the Republican brand. Think they hate you for saying how you'd vote? Wait until you see how they feel after you've actually voted. Hint; you won't enjoy it.

It's not the "tone," it's the positions. A changing electorate hates GOP positions. And why does this surprise anyone? The homophobic, sexist campaign of religious wedge issues, combined with the racist southern strategy, could only work so long as a shrinking portion of the electorate was big enough to move elections. How on Earth are you supposed to continue attacking gays, women, Latinos, blacks, Muslims, etc. while attracting those same people you're attacking? The problem is the hate.

If Republicans don't change course, they will die as a national party. Gerrymandering will save them in regional races -- state and local, congressional -- for a while. But when that sort of election rigging is irrelevant -- i.e., presidential races -- the GOP will continue to get their clock cleaned, by bigger and increasingly more convincing margins.

It's reports like this that put smiles on the faces of Democratic strategists and activists. The headline they saw in the Wall Street Journal is "GOP Kamikazes Winning the Navigational Fight."


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