Nel's New Day

March 22, 2013

GOP Issues Autopsy for Last Year’s Election

Since the GOP lost the presidency, the Senate, and the popular vote for the House, there has been much gnashing of teeth and agonizing over why the intelligent people of the United States would not elect Republicans. The  initial GOP strategy has been to pay for a study that would explain what the rest of us all know—that the anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-woman party caters only to wealthy white men, probably mostly old.

Earlier this week, the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” aka “autopsy,” was released with much fanfare by Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus. Prepared by a five-member Republican National Committee panel, the 100-page report based on 52,000 contacts with voters, party consultants, and elected officials was designed also as a roadmap. In his introduction of the conclusions, Priebus said, “As it makes clear, there’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement.”


Some of the recommendations don’t sound at all like the GOP. It calls on legislators to “embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” Of course, the GOP definition of “reform” isn’t always rooted in reality.

Priebus said the RNC has committed $10 million to reach out to minority communities, but he said nothing about “self deportation” and “the most sweeping voting restrictions since Jim Crow.” Another area where Priebus will send money is the RNC technological infrastructure: Republicans are convinced that the only reason that the Democrats did so well in the last election was its massive database.

What will probably upset rank-and-file Republicans? Priebus praised Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) accepting marriage equality, saying, “I think it’s about being decent. I think it’s about dignity and respect, that nobody deserves to have their dignity diminished, or people don’t deserve to be disrespected.” No other GOP legislator is following Priebus’ lead, and this position is guaranteed to alienate the far right.

The document stated that “third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects.” There were no names, but it sounds like increased tension with the far-right wing, including the Club for Growth.

Imagine current GOP legislators agreeing with this paragraph from the report! I can just hear the screaming about “socialist warfare.”

“We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

In an interview with, Priebus said,

“[O]ur party has divorced itself from the American culture … [We] would make fun of the president for going on ‘The View’ — and you’ve heard me say these things — … you know, talking hoops for half an hour on ESPN.  That’s where a lot of America is at, and I think we’ve got to get with it …”

The message didn’t trickle down. Every year President Obama appears on ESPN’s March Madness to share picks for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) led the hue and cry that the president should be working on the budget and claimed President Obama’s act was “a shocking failure of leadership.” Scalise was followed by a YouTube video from the House Republican conference; other Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), went on social media to demand a new budget that they would ignore.

Speaking of leadership, the House went home today, having accomplished almost nothing except passing the continuing resolution that should have been taken care of last year. That chamber is scheduled to meet 126 days this year, an average of 2.4 days each week. That gives them 239 days off for the year. During their brief sessions, the only bills of substance, usually denying women and other people rights, are ones that have no chance of passing the Senate.

The report admits that minorities don’t feel respected by the GOP but doesn’t bother to explore why. Lots of recommendations about having a presence in black churches (who’s going to do that?!), hiring minority outreach directors, etc. but no substance. The states just continue to present bills to restrict minority and poor voters. Republicans still have a strong history of believing the president is a Muslim born outside the United States.

Even Republicans understand the problems of voter laws in GOP-controlled states. Michael Steele, who held Priebus’ job during the GOP’s highly successful win in 2010, said,  “How does Reince Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist, whatever the term happens to be.”

These lines from the report show that the five people who prepared it are still pretty clueless:

“Our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms”

“Establish an RNC Celebrity Task Force of personalities in the entertainment industry … as a way to attract younger voters.”

“There have been too many debates [in the last two Republican presidential primary races.”

“RNC must rebuild a nationwide database of Hispanic leaders” and “The RNC should develop a nationwide database of African American leaders” and “APA [Asian and Pacific Islander] leaders.” (This just occurred to them?)

“We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.” (But not do anything about it?)

“Eight of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment in America have Republican governors.” (Skipping the fact that 7 of the 10 states with the highest unemployment in America also have Republican governors–GA, SC, MI, MS, NJ, NC and NV. GA and NJ weren’t in the bottom 10 four years ago, and 7 of the 8 states with the lowest employment were there four years ago.)

“Instead of connecting with voters’ concerns, we too often sound like bookkeepers. We need to do a better job connecting people to our policies.”

Republicans should “encourage governors to embrace diversity in hiring and appointments to the judiciary, boards and commissions.” (Some people call this affirmative action that conservatives are suing institutions because they use it.

“Women need to hear what our motive is–why it is that we want to create a better future for our families and how our policies will affect the lives of their loved ones.” (Does that include GOP opposition to reproductive freedom, insurance coverage for contraception, the Lily Ledbetter Act, and the Violence Against Women?)

“We can’t expect to address these demographic groups if we know nothing about them.” (This is a new idea?)

The autopsy does have some specific plans. Chapter 43: Friends and Allies (Third Party Groups), Section 1:1 Define the D’s Early and Track ‘Em (page 54):

“Well-funded conservative groups should seek to hire activists to track Democrat incumbents and candidates with video cameras constantly recording their every movement, utterance, and action. Within the applicable legal constraints, we need to create our own video content, bank it, and release it when it suits our candidates’ needs.

“An allied group dedicated solely to research to establish a private archive and public website that does nothing but post inappropriate Democrat utterances and act as a clearinghouse for information on Democrats would serve as an effective vehicle for affecting the public issue debate.”

So one of the answers to winning elections is to stalk opposing candidates.

As Dan Berger pointed out, the report doesn’t overcome the White Vote strategy that prevents the GOP from changing because the party needs the racism, sexism, nativism, religious bigotry, and homophobia for its constituents. Republicans can’t change strategies because, in opposition to their core principles, they would have to embrace social and economic equality.

The Right believes that “property rights” are absolute and sacrosanct; that the free market system is based on the unfettered transfer of property (and the right to gouge people as much as anyone desires); and that market forces must not be interfered with–regardless of their accompanying deleterious economic, social and political effects.

The current GOP party is providing an embarrassing richness of ideas that will sink the ideas–and possibly the entire party. More about that in the next few days.


1 Comment »

  1. The GOP is a national embarrassment, period.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — March 26, 2013 @ 8:35 PM | Reply

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