By AATTP Contributor, Rob Ellsworth
Is it just me, or is RNC Chairman Reince Priebus one of the creepiest dudes in Washington? Outside of his general inconsistency with the “i” before “e” except after “c” spelling rule, bro looks and sounds like a bad guy from an Adam Sandler movie. I can’t decide if he’s more “Shooter McGavin” from Happy Gilmore, or the smarmy “Eric Gordon” from Billy Madison. His laugh chills my spine.
In his aptly named “GOP Autopsy Report” filed today, Chairman Reince (Dear God, this guy deserves a junior high swirly) highlights the RNC’s need to:
- Shorten its primary campaigns;
- Limit public debates; and
- Move up its Party nominating convention by a few months.
Translation: the RNC chairman is admitting the longer the public gets to know his cast of characters, the less it likes them (see Bachman, Perry, 9-9-9 Guy, Newtie, Santorum, etc.).
Furthermore, Reince knows that a shorter period of time on the public stage gives the Todd Aikens and Richard Murdocks of the world fewer opportunities to offend virtually every segment of modern society, especially a key MAJORITY demographic otherwise known as: women. He’s clearly not stupid, but he does think his fellow puppet masters in D.C. can at least keep a lid on the “legitimate rape” candidates for a controlled period of time every four years. Maybe he’s right.
Moving the RNC convention up a few months is also astute. That gives undecided voters more time before Election Day to forget they just watched an angry old man yell at an empty chair, a regurgitation of tired ideas that have yet to work in practice and a public facade that looks absolutely nothing like 95% of its Party membership.
Let’s also be clear about a dirty little secret that’s not much of a secret anymore: a lot (but in fairness, not all) of D.C. and NYC Establishment Republicans are embarrassed to be associated with the hardcore “Religious Right” and “Tea Party Patriots” who say silly things that would have been inappropriate even in 1813. The Establishment Republicans have spent enough time in big cities to know that gay people exist and poor people aren’t operating a coordinated left-wing conspiracy to barely get by. Call it elitist.
This crowd likes to view itself as more sophisticated than its base (and it most certainly is), even though it is more than willing to enable these fringe views by constantly looking the other way and saying things like: “look, I don’t give a sh*t about the social issues, I’m fiscally conservative and pro business, that’s why I’m a Republican.”
First of all, “not giving a sh*t” may be a departure from your base who does happen to give a big sh*t about these issues, but it sure as Hell isn’t a ringing or loving endorsement for the demographics you’re trying to attract to the GOP. When you tuck in your children do you say “Good night sweetie, I really don’t give a sh*t about you, but I love the tax deduction.” Of course not.
Most persuadable voters hear that and change the channel. Just throwing a woman or Latino on the ticket isn’t going to attract those voters if the woman or Latino you pick doesn’t share the majority of those demographics’ values. And in Marco Rubio’s case, he’s not even a Latino, he’s Cuban!
It’s comically naive. And sad.
As for today’s GOP shift on comprehensive immigration reform, many D.C. Republicans know that while they (think Karl Rove) don’t particularly worry for the daily plight of immigrants, they will need Latino votes for their Party to get back in power so they can have access to plum jobs in the White House or increase their consulting fees due to improved access to governing majorities. If you think that’s cynical, I wish that was the case.
I’m guessing even Sarah Palin would agree with that. In fact, I know she does.
But I agree more with former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) who is hardly a bleeding-heart liberal: “We (Republicans) must be happy warriors who refuse to tolerate those who want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors.”
What logical 21st century human being can’t agree with that statement?
From the “conservative” pundits, to the pollsters, to the P.R. consultants, lobbyists and frankly a lot of the Republican Congressional staff and Members of Congress, they’re all quietly more progressive than the people who put them in power and help create a D.C. market that eventually advances their salaries deep into the six and seven-figure range.
Again, I get it. Rolling with it is easier than speaking candidly, especially when the checks keep cashing.
Ask a veteran GOP Congressman off camera what he really thinks about gay rights or a big budget deal that includes revenue and you’d be pleasantly surprised with his candor and sincere frustration with today’s unreasonable political climate within his own party.
These guys know there would be more deals in Congress if they weren’t scared about Tea Party primaries in the gerrymandered conservative districts they themselves created with laser precision with decades of practice.
Yes, I’m pleased to see Republicans start to moderate on social issues even though it is with words and not votes. I totally support the evolution. But while Establishment Republicans are starting a modern evolution on the East Coast, their base is voting intelligent design everywhere else.
To be sure, I respect that Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has come around on marriage equality due to a personal family experience that changed his mind. That’s the whole point of a social justice movement. And in fairness, the Clintons and President Obama have made the full evolution themselves. However, they were never hateful nor did they advocate to limit any rights. They simply didn’t do enough to stop it or fight back until recently. That also deserves bipartisan criticism, although to a less toxic degree.
But even with Mr. Portman’s recent declaration, our country cannot wait for an entire political party and every Senator to have that obvious “Ah-Hah!” lightbulb moment. They shouldn’t just view an issue by how it affects their own kids. They should apply the standard to all kids whether it involves war or peace. It’s kind of what they get paid to do, right?
I would also say that I’m proud of former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman’s work to overturn Prop 8 and to oppose DOMA. I believe his heart is in it and that he genuinely feels bad about his civil rights record. But let’s be clear, when he was in a position of power ten years ago, he led disgusting efforts that went beyond pandering to bigots and homophobes for votes. He had to know better, yet he looked the other way and pressed on.
It’s a damn fact: hurtful and fowl words found their way into state constitutions and legal codes, some that will take a SCOTUS decision or 2/3 of the public to undo.
The recent publicity surrounding former senior and high profile Republican figures lending their names for gay rights is good for the movement, and particularly for guys like Ken Mehlman who rightly spearheaded it, but only as long as we remember the movement is bigger than one man or woman and should be placed in proper context.
Courage gets easier when people leave office. Let’s see the current officeholders in the Republican House actually schedule a vote on ENDA, marriage equality, gun safety measures, comprehensive immigration reform, or anything Reince Priebus heard from his “minority listening tour” in Brooklyn last week (that conveniently took place at the 11th hour before release of the final GOP autopsy report went public).
Let’s see Members from both parties up for reelection in 2014 take a tough vote on any one of these issues a majority of Americans now care about. Then I’ll shut up about social issues and gladly fight on economic and foreign policy turf.
My hunch is that the GOP social agenda will stay more inline with the shit Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin shovel out to the party faithful. Old gems like: fire Big Bird and PBS, gut Planned Parenthood, drug-test Welfare recipients, defend DOMA in the courts, leave the U.N., block funding increases for infrastructure and education as “fiscally conservative” stances (and then wonder why job creation is slow and “nothing is getting done”).
Reince Priebus, Karl Rove, and the D.C. Establishment Republicans can only expect the Tea Party to drive them to the country club gates and wait in the car for so much longer.
Your Party can’t have an allergy to science and nuance and somehow think it can expand the tent to new demographics simply by softening the rhetoric and repackaging the same garbage.
Republicans don’t need to abandon their principles, they need to thoughtfully apply them to 21st century problems and openly kick the shit out of the knuckle-draggers who get them in trouble. The public sees Republicans as scary, insincere, unreasonable, inauthentic and out of touch.
So, listening might be a good start.
America needs a better Republican Party. This one sucks.
Rob Ellsworth is a consultant based in Washington D.C.