Some Conservatives Call on GOP to Double Down on Romney’s “Whites-Only” Strategy
Remember the 2012 election season when Mitt Romney focused primarily on mobilizing white voters, advocated for “self-deportation” and alienated Latino voters so thoroughly that it helped Barack Obama win the swing states of Florida, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado? Remember the post-election stampede of conservative commentators who acknowledged that Romney and the GOP had a Hispanic voter problem and the answer was to get right with them by helping to enact immigration reform? Well, some conservatives have decided to forget all that and retreat to their comfort zone. Led by the likes of Britt Hume, Byron York, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sean Trende, Michelle Bachman, Pat Buchanan and Phyllis Schlafly, the remarkable, not-so-new idea can be summarized as this: let’s double down on the Southern Strategy!
As Benjy Sarlin of MSNBC writes:
If the 2012 election was a wakeup call for Republicans to address their relationship to Latino voters, the 2013 immigration debate is starting to resemble a chloroform-soaked rag. After November’s stunning loss, an array of influential Republicans argued that immigration reform was the party’s best chance to claim Latino voters before they become permanent Democrats. But in a mere eight months, a counter-narrative has taken hold in conservative circles, nurtured by a shrewd group of anti-immigration lobbyists and Tea Party enthusiasts. The new argument sees immigration reform at best as a divisive distraction from the GOP’s real problem of countering ‘white flight’ from the polls.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
At a time of enormous demographic change in America, and following four of five presidential races in which the GOP lost the popular vote, can it be true that in 2013 some leading conservatives are saying the way forward for the GOP is to forget Latino voters and focus on white voters? And can it be true that Republican lawmakers are listening to this stupidity? Do they really think that Phyllis Schlafly has a better grasp of presidential politics than Karl Rove?
Or as Frank Wilkinson of Bloomberg recently wrote:
Republican policies already cater to an increasingly narrow tranche of American society: the rich and the old (who, not coincidentally, happen also to be white). When they wax nostalgic over the era of institutional racism and sexism, it sounds like moral obtuseness to most younger, more diverse voters. And so it is. How long before Republicans put themselves out of reach of most Asians and Hispanics as they have with blacks?
There is no reason conservatism can’t find its footing in a multiracial century. Yet Republicans lack the confidence to test the proposition, opting instead for the kind of voter suppression tactics designed, like these proposals in North Carolina, to stifle the nonwhite vote rather than win it. Moral and political legitimacy need to be constantly replenished. The past is another country. Republicans should stop representing it.
The GOP is facing a moment of truth. It either modernizes and survives or stays stuck in the status quo and commits political suicide. Let’s hope – for the good of the country and for the good of our democracy – they make the right choice.