One year after issuing a truth-telling autopsy of its drubbing in the 2012 presidential race (primarily because of its dismal and exclusionary relationship with people of color and others), the Republican Party celebrated by looking the other way. Literally.
In a series of ads, the GOP features members of the gorgeous mosaic of the United States — African American, Asian American and hipster — proclaiming, “I’m a Republican” and then finishing the sentence with calls for an all-of-the-above energy policy, smaller government and opportunity while looking somewhere that wasn’t the camera and talking to no one in particular. A perfect metaphor for the GOP’s ongoing problem with people of color.
Dick Armey said it best on page 10 of the autopsy. “You can’t call someone ugly,” the former House Majority Leader and Tea Party menace admonished, “and expect them to go to the prom with you.” And that’s exactly what the GOP did for the last year in word and deed.
Rep. Steve King (Iowa) denigrated Latinos last July as he articulated his opposition to allowing undocumented high schoolers to get U.S. citizenship through college or service in the armed forces under the Dream Act. “For everyone who’s a valedictorian,” King said, “there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and half-term governor of Alaska Sarah Palin had no problem being seen with anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Larry Klayman at the Million Vets March in October. “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 out with his hands up,” the lawyer said of President Obama. Nary a word of denunciation from leaders within the Republican Party.
Nor did anyone denounce the unfurling of the treasonous Confederate flag in front of the White House when that march made its way to the home of the nation’s first black president and his family. That was one of the many explicit expressions of disrespect for this president that many African Americans won’t soon forget. And yet, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told Sean Hannity in November, “I think [President Obama] should take ownership over this divisive culture that he has created.”
The GOP deserves some credit for doing behind-the-scenes work to reach out to minorities. Last month, the RNC’s “Black Trailblazers” event at the Howard Theatre in Washington was packed with black conservatives. But that will only get Republicans so far. They say they want black votes, but they are still trying to make it difficult for blacks to vote (see Ohio and Priebus’s home state of Wisconsin). They know their electoral salvation rests in the hands of Latino voters. They know that comprehensive immigration reform will secure it. But they continue to block any action on comprehensive immigration reform while blaming said inaction on “widespread doubt” about the president.
As we know, autopsies are done on dead things. Which means the GOP is among the walking dead.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj