After the shellacking on November 6th, political voices across the ideological spectrum called on the Republican Party of Rhode Island to adapt or die. Words like “moderate,” “women,” and “Latinos” were thrown around, often with reckless disregard for their meanings. Appeal to these voters, so the story goes, and the Republicans will regain competitiveness.
Now, maybe the Republicans can swallow their revulsion towards immigrants, slap some lipstick on that elephant, and somehow pretend they’re alright with government helping people out and not mandating what can and cannot be done in the bedroom; but I really doubt it. That’s just too much change.
Americans got the Full Monty of Republican radicalism in 2012. And they straight up rejected it. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment wasn’t something new; Republican candidates have been using pseudo-science for years to justify their positions. Same with Mitt Romney’s 47% speech. One doesn’t have to look very far to find that kind of thinking; if you don’t watch Fox News, read the comments on the Providence Journal or GoLocalProv.
The other thing is that the RI GOP has a great hatred of Rhode Island and its people. Certainly, most of their candidates tend to know better than to express that outright. But I guarantee you the nativist comments on the Journal‘s site aren’t coming from Democrats. I’ve scrolled through enough comments to know that insulting Rhode Islanders’ intelligence is probably what passes for sport among these Republican commenters. That’s if they’re not actively encourage us to flee our homes.
“Surely Sam, these are the worst elements of the Party, on a medium with virtually no filters,” you might protest. That’s probably true, I’m sure most Republicans are good-hearted folks who just want the best for everyone. But here’s the problem: I’m not seeing those good-hearted folks. I’m reading horrible words written by really terrible people. That’s the Republican Party I see every day.
Not “moderate,” “women,” or “Latinos.” As if you can compete solely on those voters. “Blacks,” “the poor,” “young people.” All won by Democrats by significant margins, but ignored by Republicans. In fact, Republican commentator Travis Rowley asserts that Republicans don’t have to appeal to any of the former types of voters at all! Latino and women voters will magically fall in line with Republican values.
Could that be more delusional? Latinos have been in this country since Texas was annexed (probably before), and the Mexican-American War added thousands more. The point being, it’s been about 170 years. And women have been voting for nearly a century. You’d think they would’ve come around by now. You’d think Republicans would be gaining their votes, not shedding them.
Perhaps so few Republicans ran in RI because they felt that competing in the democratic process was beneath them. Those filthy, stupid citizens of this state get to vote? The nerve of them!
Kidding aside, Republicans have spent years denigrating community organizers and even longer denigrating union organizers. Those people don’t sit idly by every election. They take time off, and they go work for candidates who will help them. Their jobs are to organize some of the most difficult people to organize, and/or in the most hostile of conditions. They ain’t idiots when it comes to getting people to turnout for things. But since Republicans have written off unions, and organizing in general, they wouldn’t know that organizing really does matter.
What does the party of privilege know about organizing? What does a party so hostile to the very concept understand about it? The lessons of 2008 permeated nearly every campaign for every Democratic candidate across America. Look for 2012’s lessons to likewise be applied. Democratic campaigns are going to get more sophisticated.
But there conservatives go, telling themselves it was because Mr. Romney was too moderate. Or, laughably, it was because he was “progressive”. Or Democratic “lies”. Not that the GOP is becoming increasingly unpopular and increasingly outdone on the electoral ground game.
American conservatives are starting to parallel German conservatives in the 1920s; unable to fathom their loss in World War I, they made up excuses for how the German Empire could’ve been defeated rather than re-evaluating the ideals and policies that led to that defeat. Likewise, Republicans have a handy set of excuses for their defeats, born of the alternate reality they created during the campaign, and are showing an unwillingness to re-evaluate the ideals and policies that brought them to this mess.
I don’t think the RI GOP can change. I don’t think they have it in them. I think they’re content to lose.