Sunday, November 22, 2015

The GOP's Race Away from Inclusiveness

If one thinks back to the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election, one will recall all the promises that the Republican Party would make a concerted effort to be more inclusive and strive to fill the fictional GOP big tent.  Booby Jindal - who just saw his would be presidential campaign crash and burn after prostituting himself to white Christofascist extremists - said the GOP needed to stop being the "party of stupid" and many said there simply were not enough aging whites to allow the GOP to win national elections.  Fast forward to today, and the GOP has gone in exactly the opposite direction from that promised in early 2013 and the racism and religious fanaticism seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  GOP presidential candidates are attending "kill the gays" gatherings and the party base wants to treat Syrian refugees much like Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.  All of this nastiness is, of course, wrapped in the American flag and professions of Christian values.  A piece in Politico looks at the demise of the GOP's call to inclusiveness.  Here are excerpts:

Poor Reince Priebus. After Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama in 2012, Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, touted his shiny new 100-page report on reinventing the GOP at the National Press Club in March 2013. It was called the “Growth and Opportunity Project.” Priebus’ message was earnest and direct: The GOP needed to practice inclusion, not exclusion, if it was to have any chance of winning the presidency. “We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too,” the report said.

That was then. In the meantime, the GOP’s leading presidential contenders have serially and successfully thumbed their collective noses at the party establishment. Already Donald Trump and Ben Carson have upended the race with stands like castigating illegal immigrants. But amid widespread fear of terrorism triggered by the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, the GOP is now mired in its ugliest intra-party debate yet—about whether Muslims living in the United States constitute a potential Fifth Column.

[T]he party establishment is once more being outflanked by its militant wing, which has long depicted Muslims as first and foremost loyal not to America but to Islamic Sharia law. . . . . whether Trump and Carson really believe in their gibberish about Muslims-Americans is almost beside the point: If they score electoral successes, they will reshape the GOP in their own image. And to some extent they already are. 
To be sure, Carson’s likening some Muslim refugees to “rabid” dogs and Trump’s musings, which he has attempted to rescind, about creating a federal registry for Muslim-Americans—how would he even decide who was or was not truly a Muslim; by drawing on the 1935 Nuremberg Race Laws?—are triggering something of a backlash on the mainstream right.
For all their pious disavowals of Trump’s fiery rhetoric, establishment candidates like Bush and Rubio are backing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s push for suspending a Syrian refugee program, with Bush exempting “Christians.” Meanwhile, neoconservative outlets like Commentary magazine are warning that “any plan to admit tens of thousands of Syrians is a huge gamble with American security.
So what’s going on? How has the party departed so far from the vision Priebus laid out just two years ago?

There are two factors at work. The first is that as the GOP embraces the theme of America’s precipitous decline under President Barack Obama, it’s jettisoning the crusading and optimistic foreign policy credo of George W. Bush. After over a decade of warfare in the Middle East, the notion that Washington can single-handedly transform Muslim societies in America’s image attracts derisory snorts on the right as well as the left. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, by contrast, is harkening back to the Bush legacy by endorsing a federal agency to disseminate “Judeo-Christian values” to Iran Russia, China and the Middle East . . . But many conservatives—both candidates and their constituents—are adopting a darker view of the Middle East, which is that it is irredeemable and thus poses a dire threat to the very existence of western civilization. 

The second reason goes back to the end of the Cold War. During the past century, the GOP focused on the internal subversive threat of communism and often depicted liberals as traitors. Now many on the right have seamlessly moved on to hunt for Muslim traitors as part of a third World War against a foreign enemy. They’ve been identifying domestic traitors and declaring a broader war against Islam for years, but have been, for the most part, speaking to deaf ears. . . . Now after Paris, the radical right is grabbing the opportunity to push their case to a wider audience.

Up until now, the most conspicuous example of the GOP’s persistent anti-Islam strain, of course, has been the campaign to depict Obama as a closet Muslim. . . . . The search for traitors has also been going inside the ranks of the GOP itself. Take the stalwart anti-tax activist Grover Norquist whose wife Samah Alrayyes is of Palestinian origin. Along with former George W. Bush administration official Suhail Khan, he has regularly been accused by former Reagan administration Defense Department official Frank Gaffney of being a secret Muslim Brotherhood agent.  . . . . egged on by the attacks in Paris, all this that was once on the fringes is now beginning to get wider circulation in the GOP. Today, mainstream conservative magazines and politicians are raising similar doubts about Islam and Muslims.

Yet a new nationwide Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates that while public fears of a terrorist attack in America have increased, over three-quarters of the respondents rejected the idea of discriminating among refugees on the basis of religious faith.
Adding the demonization of Muslim-Americans to the GOP brand might well sabotage the party’s chances before it has even entered the national competition. . . . Specifically, it would do well to recall the postmortem that took place after the party suffered devastating losses in the 1953 midterm elections. Then as now the party was bitterly divided between its establishment wing and radical populists such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy that helped doom it at the polls.

Today, the party is flirting with national registries and a secret police to track down illegal immigrants. Will it really bang its drum about this in 2016?

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