"10 Ways Republicans Botched Their One Year-Old Outreach Strategy To Women And Minorities"
One year ago today, the Republican National Committee published a widely discussed “autopsy” of the GOP’s 2012 election losses. After an election season that introduced the American people to terms like “self-deportation” and “legitimate rape,” the RNC acknowledged Republicans had done too little to appeal to women, LGBT Americans and people of color.
“It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities to welcome in new members of our Party,” read one line of the autopsy report. Another declared that “the Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring.” Republican candidates must “addresses concerns that are on women’s minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them,“ according to the autopsy, and they “need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view.”
Yet, despite the GOP’s 2012 losses, Republican officials have largely said “thanks but no thanks” to the autopsy’s advice. Here are just ten examples of how the RNC’s outreach plan has gone off the rails:
1. Blocking the Voting Rights Act
Last June, the five Republicans on the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates to laws making it harder for minorities to vote in several states with long histories of racial voter suppression. Six months later, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a bill that would restore many of the voting rights stripped by the Roberts Court. Yet, while a handful of Republicans, such as Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), are vocal supporters of this bill, crucial Republicans have shown no enthusiasm for voting rights. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) announced shortly after the bill was introduce that there was no guarantee that he would move the bill forward. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the #2 Republican in the Senate, outright opposes reviving the Voting Rights Act. Although Cornyn’s Republican counterpart in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), has suggested a times that he is open to a bill reinstating much of the Voting Rights Act, he has not yet indicated whether he will support the specific bill pending in Congress.
2. Voter Suppression
It’s likely that Republicans are reluctant to restore the Voting Rights Act because doing so would undermine voter suppression laws that they support. Just two hours after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, Texas announced it would move forward with a GOP-backed voter suppression law and a GOP-backed gerrymander that had previously been blocked under the law struck by the Supreme Court. Alabama and Mississippi announced similar plans shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, North Carolina Republicans enacted a comprehensive voter suppression law packaging together many of the most innovative ways lawmakers have discovered to depress minority voting.
3. Inviting Women’s Bosses Into Their Bedrooms
Republican officials, from Speaker John Boehner on down, have vigorously defended the supposed right of religious employers to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees, despite federal regulations requiring them to do so. Numerous Republican lawmakers filed multiple different briefs urging the Supreme Court to side with these employers. And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, compared guaranteed contraceptive coverage to something like a sugar daddy — Democrats, according to Huckabee, want women to believe “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”
4. Protecting Anti-Gay Employers
The same concept of “religious liberty” that threatens to invite women’s bosses into their bedrooms also drove a GOP-backed Arizona bill that could have given anti-gay businesses a right to discriminate against gay customers — although, in fairness, that bill was also vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. Similarly, although a federal ban on employment discrimination against gay employees passed the Senate last April, Speaker Boehner says that there is “no way” this bill will pass the GOP-controlled House. Boehner added that he thinks a ban on anti-gay discrimination “is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits.”
5. Halting Immigration Reform
Immigration reform is currently stalled for a very similar reason. Although a comprehensive reform bill passed the Senate, it is currently being held up by the House. Boehner, for his part, claims that one of the “biggest obstacles” to passing the bill is that Republicans do not trust President Obama to implement the bill. In response, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered to have the bill take effect in 2017 — when President Obama is out of office — but Boehner has yet to bring the immigration bill to the floor.
6. Deporting DREAMers
Though Boehner refuses to allow a vote in comprehensive immigration reform, the House did vote on an amendment defunding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows the federal government to halt deportations of young, law abiding undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before their sixteenth birthday. 221 House Republicans voted for this amendment.
7. Defending Marriage Discrimination
House Republicans spent $2.3 million in taxpayer money on outside counsel to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court. Similarly, Utah Republican lawmakers announced that they were willing to spend another $2 million in taxpayer funds to defend marriage discrimination in that case (the lead attorney they wound up hiring is charging the state $200,000 for just one stage of the litigation). Some of the legal arguments made on Utah’s behalf, it should be noted, are rather ridiculous.
8. Shutting Down Abortion Clinics
In the past year, Republicans continued their longstanding opposition to a women’s right to choose to have an abortion. Some highlights include a 20-week abortion ban which passed the U.S. House in June, a Texas law seeking to shut down abortion clinics in that state, and similar bills in at least three other states. Although a federal judge initially halted the Texas law, that law was swiftly reinstated by three Republican judges appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.
9. Punishing Civil Rights Attorneys
Earlier this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked the nomination of Debo Adegbile to become the Justice Department’s top civil rights attorney — with an assist from seven feckless Democrats. The campaign against Adegbile focused on the fact that he signed a brief arguing that a convicted cop killer was unconstitutionally sentenced to die (a federal appeals court agreed that this sentence was, indeed, unconstitutional). Nevertheless, it is likely that the Republicans who opposed him were at least partially motivated by another issue, Adegbile’s record of defending voting rights. At Adegbile’s confirmation hearing and in subsequent questions, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) focused on whether the civil rights nominee would try to thwart voter ID laws, a common voter suppression law favored by Republicans, if confirmed to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. Adegbile twice defended the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court — the same Voting Rights Act that once blocked voter ID laws in states like Texas.
10. Blaming Poverty On Lazy “Inner City” Men
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the recent vice presidential candidate and GOP leader on budget policy, recently blamed poverty on “inner city” men being lazy — “[w]e have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.” To support his claim, Ryan cited Charles Murray, a man best known for authoring a book which argues that black people are less intelligent than whites.
BONUS: Partying Like It’s 1964
At the recently, concluded Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll, a plurality of the voters selected Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as their preferred candidate for president in 2016. Paul is one of the nation’s leading opponents of federal bans on discrimination by private businesses. Indeed, in 2010, Paul argued that the right of “private ownership” should trump African Americans’ and other minorities’ rights to be free from discrimination. Allowing such discrimination, Paul claimed, is the “hard part about believing in freedom.”