As Republican House Speaker John Boehner is negotiating with President Barack Obama on a deal to avoid sending the country over the "fiscal cliff" come Jan. 1, conservative leaders are publicly urging Republicans in Congress to resist pressure to compromise.
An open letter circulated on Wednesday and signed by more than 100 conservatives never explicitly addresses the "fiscal cliff" talks but warns Republicans that they are "entering into a period of testing." It says they have "a mandate to fight for conservative principles" because they maintained firm control of the House on Election Day.
Among the signers are Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Foster Friess, a Wyoming businessman who helped bankroll a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum's presidential bid; and longtime conservative activists Richard Viguerie and Phyllis Schlafly.
The reasoning behind this is pretty much nonexistent. Instead, the argument rests on baseless optimism. "If Republicans provide a consistent, conservative alternative, the time will come, probably sooner than later, when most Americans will become fed up with the left's failed agenda and be ready for a change to 'throw the bums out' and restore limited, Constitutional government," the letter says. In other words, keep doing what everyone's hating and everyone will come around -- because shut up, that's why.
There's a battle going on for the soul of the Republican Party and these people seem to be on the losing side. These are the social conservatives and the Tea Party nuts and they're being left behind by a party interested in representing more than just a handful of screwballs. Just the other day, Politico tried to get a GOP leader to comment on a gay marriage case before the Supreme Court -- and came up empty. "Saving traditional marriage" is a pet issue for social conservatives and the Republican Party doesn't want to touch it with a ten-foot pole any more. That's a pretty rapid reversal of fortune for Schlafly and company.
And that's not the only issue that social conservatives are being abandoned over. Their love of racist extremists like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona's "papers please" anti-immigrant law is costing them dearly. In fact, it may have cost them the presidency.
[Talking Points Memo:]
Republicans need to dramatically improve their standing with Latino voters or risk becoming a “regional party” of disaffected whites, according to a study released Wednesday by a GOP pollster.
“Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters,” Resurgent Republic pollster Whit Ayres and the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network’s Jennifer Korn concluded in a memo detailing the results of the study.
Resurgent Republic surveyed Latino voters in four states — New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Florida — and concluded that the GOP brand was on life support. Respondents said Republicans did not respect their community’s values and concerns by a 51-44 margin in Florida, 54-40 in New Mexico, 59-35 in Nevada, and 63-30 in Colorado. By contrast Democrats were seen as respectful by a dominant 67-28 spread in Florida, 72- 23 percent in both New Mexico and Nevada, and 76-20 in Colorado.
The study wasn't exactly needed, however, since it simply points out the obvious. Back in August, Sen. Lindsey Graham saw the writing on the wall, telling an interviewer, "The demographics race we’re losing badly. [The GOP's] not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."
Basically, Schlafly, Viguerie, and the rest of the 'bagger crew are advising Republican leaders to continue catering to a shrinking demographic -- white conservative evangelicals -- and to ignore the growth in every other demo. I suppose it's predictable, but even if the leadership were fooled by this argument, it wouldn't save them. The choice is clear: stop kissing up to the base and broaden your appeal or stick with the racist, sexist, and homophobic white nuts and keep losing elections.
And it's not a hard choice to make. As I've pointed out recently, the only reason the GOP ever went with social conservatives was to use their issues as wedges. It's hard to get someone to vote against their own economic interests, but it's easy to get them to vote against the Homosexual Menace.
Or, at least, it used to be. Republicans will no doubt find some other issue to turn voters into pigeons with -- guns or something. But the age of the racist and religious demagogue is in its twilight.
And good riddance.