Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Nuevo Deal

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The Nuevo Deal
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The Nuevo Deal - Hispanic Room
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I thought this was very funny, but I don't think I agree with it. Oh, sure, this supposed change of heart by the GOP is definitely a "craven political calculation." Even Republican politicians admit that.

And there's a real question whether they can pull it off, too. But that's just because their own base might not be willing to go along with it.

Immigration is a hot-button issue on the right, at least in part because Republican politicians have been creating and encouraging that environment of hysteria and fear for their own political advantage. To switch arguments, suddenly, when the opposite tack becomes more favorable politically,... well, I'm not sure how they'll pull that off.

After all, if the Republican base were reasonable, we wouldn't have these problems. Or we'd have far fewer of them, at least. And the Republican base is unreasonable precisely because Republican leaders deliberately wooed such people (most notably, in their notorious 'Southern strategy').

However, if they can do it, if they can keep the party faithful in line - and Republicans are a lot better at obeying authority and marching in lockstep than Democrats - it will work, at least to some extent. Let's not be so naive as to think otherwise.

The right-wing has a lot of experience in divide-and-conquer politics, encouraging various minority groups to fight among themselves. They've encouraged African Americans to fight gay marriage in California. They've encouraged union workers to oppose immigration reform (and to oppose civil rights before that). They're very good at driving wedges between different Democratic constituencies.

And these minority groups, just like everyone else, are composed of individual people with diverse interests and concerns. It's kind of funny, but liberals seem prone to seeing such groups as monolithic almost as much as conservatives do. Forget that. It's just not true.

Hispanics may not, overall, like the bigotry they see in the Republican Party, but some of them do hold 'conservative' economic views. Many are Catholic and hold 'conservative' positions on social issues, too. (I use quotes, because I have a hard time understanding how these things are 'conservative' at all.) It's not for nothing that Karl Rove dreamed of creating a permanent Republican majority with Hispanic Americans.

And that dream isn't necessarily dead, either. He failed because that crazy GOP base, useful in so many ways, turned out to have a political downside. But there's a lot of money available to fix such problems - or pretend to, at least.

Let's remember our history. African Americans used to favor the Republican Party, back when the segregationist Dixiecrats controlled the South. The Republican's 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists gained them those Dixiecrats, but lost them the (much smaller) African American vote.

But despite the political dominance that gave the GOP, they never even attempted to bring back segregation. Indeed, Republicans leaders and Republican platforms never fail to support civil rights for racial minorities.

Polls show that many southern Republicans still think that interracial marriage should be illegal (yup, they don't just think that it's wrong, but that it shouldn't even be legal in America), but you won't find a Republican leader saying that. Conservatives recognize that they lost that battle, just like they lost the battles over slavery and women's suffrage.

And they're quickly - surprisingly quickly - losing the battle over gay rights, too. When they're reduced to fighting against gay marriage on the basis that only heterosexuals can get drunk and accidentally produce a baby from a one-night stand, you know they've got nothing left. And the trend of public sentiment is very clear.

This is going to end up like segregation. A lot of Republicans will still be bitterly opposed to gay rights, but party leaders and party platforms will change. It's almost inevitable. And then you'll start to see more gay Republicans.

You may think that hasn't worked with African Americans, but give it time. 93% of any group voting for one particular political party is not sustainable. That 'Southern strategy' made a huge difference in black voting patterns, and rightly so. But as old white men die off - even in the South - those old opinions are dying, too.

Republicans don't, after all, have to win a majority of African American and Hispanic votes, but just chip away at the Democrats' advantage. As I say, 93% is not sustainable, so it's almost guaranteed they can pick up black votes, once Barack Obama has left office. (His presidency has really exposed the racism in the GOP, which is why they've lost ground recently.)

The Democratic advantage with Hispanics isn't nearly as pronounced, but the reason for it isn't so dramatic, either. Karl Rove wasn't so very wrong in hoping to appeal to conservative Hispanics, and some movement on immigration reform - even if it's still opposed by rank-and-file Republicans - might pay real dividends.

Republicans are losing women, too, but not hugely. Most American women, like most American men, don't pay much attention to politics, and low-information voters are ideal for Republican advantages in the news media and with big-money - and often anonymous - political donations.

I mean, how hard is it to just stop talking about rape? These people don't have to change their views, they just have to stop admitting them. Really, if you plan a career in politics at all, you should learn how to talk without saying anything, don't you think?

Keep in mind that these are the same people who thought that deliberately wooing racists for political advantage was a good idea. These are also the same people who've been working to suppress voting by making it harder to register and harder to vote.

These are the same people who are currently working to change the electoral college system - in just a handful of blue states, not everywhere - in order to ensure a permanent Republican presidency even when they lose an election. Indeed, these are the same people who've already manipulated district lines to keep control of the House of Representatives, despite losing the election by more than a million votes.

So what won't they do to maintain power? Do you really think they'll draw the line at pretending to change? And if not, do you really think that all Americans - even Americans in Democratic-leaning constituencies - are smart enough and informed enough to see through it?

To me, that seems like wishful thinking. But I hope I'm wrong.

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