Republican leaders on Monday offered what's being heralded by the New York Timesas a "sweeping self critique" of their party, acknowledging that they need a new brand of conservatism to appeal to ethnic minorities, younger voters and women. None of this is surprising or particularly insightful to thinking people -- what's unfortunate is that the report, although in some regards stark and honest about the failings of the "Grand Old Party" is nowhere near stark or honest enough.
The GOP is not suffering federally because, as the report in part claims, it fails to have sufficient spokespeople with black, Hispanic or Asian faces, or who are women, but because it has become a farm team for intolerance, anti-intellectualism and undesirables.
This is not to say that all members of the GOP are characters as disreputable as those described above or that even a majority or sizable number of the GOP can be characterized in such a fashion. It is to say however, that a volume of such people sufficient to change the nature of the GOP have infiltrated the party, affecting it in much the same way as a small amount of unwanted ingredient may spoil a perfectly good meal. It doesn't take much chili powder to ruin a bowl of cereal.
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The "big three" as I call them (the intolerant, the anti-intellectual and the undesirable) began to migrate to the GOP in significant numbers in 2008 -- shortly after the election of America's first secret Muslim, foreign born, black(ish) President. Although the report released on Monday was conducted by the Republican National Committee shortly after the 2012 election, it makes no mention of the GOP's poor move of embracing racists, conspiracy theorists, theocrats and anyone who was anti-Obama in 2008, regardless their mental salience or moral character. These folks have remained in the party ever since, pushing it closer to their political agenda and off a political cliff.
You can recognize the handiwork of these characters, these unwanted ingredients, in all aspects of Federal GOP policy: they dislike women who are free to control their own bodies and so metastasize legitimate debate about abortion into ideas for how to attack the health of women -- calls to cut Federal funding to Planned Parenthood (who do not provide abortion services with Federal money) are surreptitious attacks against women's health -- and women realize it.
They dislike blacks for the same age old reasons and turn any honest conversation about race in America into a stupid and sordid one -- they are behind attempts to disenfranchise black voters under the guise of "voter fraud" -- but aren't really concerned about voter fraud, they're concerned about blacks voting -- and blacks realize it.
They dislike Hispanics and warp legitimate conversations about immigration reform into attacks against all Hispanics, regardless their citizenship -- because their problem isn't really with illegal immigration, it's with Hispanic illegal immigration -- and the Hispanics realize it.
They are the anti-intellectuals who at the grassroots level empower candidates like Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin and Michelle Bachmann. They are faith based on every issue, including physics, geology and biology. They are people who do not understand basic science and yet seek to set America's science agenda. They don't really care about science, they care about theology -- and young voters realize it.
They are the undesirables who attend CPAC conferences and argue that slavery wasn't so bad or that whites are being politically disenfranchised. They carry loaded guns in public not because they're concerned about safety or their second amendment rights, but because they want to threaten their political opponents. They send emails of the First Lady dressed like a gorilla to their friends because they think it's funny. They're odious people who taint anything they touch -- and independents realize it.
No tent so large that it encompasses swamp creatures and troglodytes will be a popular place to vacation. These are the sordid ingredients that have spoiled the GOP brand for many young people, blacks, women, Hispanics and Asians. There will be no GOP unless the party, even if it's behind closed doors, wakes up to its real problems -- the "big three" and does something about them.
There is a lesson here to be learned by Canadian Conservatives who often have similar creatures skulking around campaign events and political conferences -- make it clear that they are unwelcome. This is one American phenomenon that there should be no interest in embracing.