Opinion: Change won’t be easy for Republicans

November 11, 2012


“How ya like me now?” — Barack Obama

OK, so Obama didn’t really say that but surely, he must have thought it behind a private smile at some point Tuesday night.

There are no smiles among the Republicans, however, only a pressing question: Can the GOP fix itself? Can a party whose appeal is wholly white and mainly male learn to appeal to a rainbow electorate which is neither? Especially after it has spent so many years denigrating that rainbow, drawing lines in sand, placing chips on its shoulder.

There are hopeful signs that our long national hissy fit may at last be over. House Speaker John Boehner was making conciliatory noises about resolving the economic impasse the day after the election. Some of the party’s most prominent voices, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have been speaking of the need for the GOP to broaden its appeal. So maybe the adults are finally returning home.

But the place is a wreck, because the kids (looking at you, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain) have been having quite the party. And repairing it is going to be a long and difficult process.

In the first place, any sudden GOP outreach to those it spurned while courting angry older white men must unavoidably appear conniving, self-conscious and self-serving. And once you get past the problem of appearances, there is the simple question of what it will take to undo the damage the party has inflicted upon itself with those groups.

How long will it be before gay men and lesbians are willing to forgive and forget that the party has routinely demeaned their relationships and impugned their moral fitness?

How long will it take before Hispanics are willing to let bygones be bygones with a party that spoke of “self-deportation” and cheered the notion of a border fence to electrocute undocumented Mexican workers?

And how much time must go by before African-Americans are willing to look past the GOP’s unrelenting and deeply personal disrespect toward the nation’s first African-American president, its insistence on treating him as some foreign Other who, in John Sununu’s memorably tawdry phrase, must “learn how to be an American.”

All that said, the biggest question here is not whether the GOP can transform itself, but whether it can even try. At this point, the Republicans are less a traditional political party than what disenchanted former GOP staffer Mike Lofgren has called an “apocalyptic cult.”

And cults are remarkably fact resistant. Cultists live in a reality of their own construction and, far from being chastened by it, they thrive on rejection. So while the grownups in the party may be reading the writing on the demographic wall and believe it calls on them to abandon extremism, there is every reason to believe the rest of the party will think that writing requires them to double down on it instead.

Indeed, even as Rubio and Boehner were talking sense, party icons were talking the same old craziness. Donald Trump called for revolution in the wake of Obama’s re-election. Ted Nugent called Obama supporters “pimps, whores ... welfare brats” and “soulless fools.” Bill O’Reilly said people voted for Obama because he will “give them things.”

And so on.

This, then, is the dilemma Republicans have created for themselves by their own short-sightedness. It was all well and fine to embrace angry white male extremism so long as white male extremism was able to deliver elections. That day is passing and the party awakens in a new America, desperately needing to change but quite possibly prevented from doing so by the very craziness it has so long cultivated.

Ain’t that a kick in the head? For years, the party has won elections by inventing enemies for angry white men to fear. But at this point, the GOP has no bigger enemy than itself.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CST each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.


Saoul 5 years, 3 months ago

The people that claim "diversity" as their mantra are bitterly clinging to their bigoted perception of white christian males. Sadly, shy of true "diversity."

Try as they must, people of self proclaimed "diversity" are limited in their scope of projecting diversity.

In other words Pitts, free yourself of your hatred for whites and use them for what they are good at. Creating wealth and defending freedom.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, yeah, yeah, zombie. Go put on your headset and bury your head in Sean Hannity.

repaste 5 years, 3 months ago

Tommy, or whoever the new you is, that is one of the more self-iluminating things you have written.

Corey Williams 5 years, 3 months ago

Wasn't there another commenter who used quotation marks around words that didn't actually need it? What was their name?

Paul R Getto 5 years, 3 months ago

Billy Flay originally, from the old Larryville.

headdoctor 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr Parker. Since the LJW Moderators can not or will not keep up with the multiple user name posters(previously banned) who have some sort of axe to grind, personal, mental, or otherwise, may we please have an ignore button? They are here for attention and disruption to the forum. An ignore button would go a long ways toward making your job much easier and render the offender posts even more worthless than they already are. It wont stop the drama queens who refuse to use it but will make everyone's life a bit better who are on this forum regularly who want an honest discussion.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe I wasn't paying attention, so I'll just ask. Why were these individuals banned in the first place? It is somewhat obvious when banned posters come back, but I'm unaware of why they were banned in the first place.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

Ask the moderators.

I'd say that they had to do some pretty awful stuff to get banned, given the behavior that's tolerated here. People can have the vast majority of their posts deleted for violations of the tos, and still post here.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

This republican party is not going to change. All this big time public yada yada yada about fixing themselves is the latest event in which to pull the wool over the eyes of voters.

Actions speak louder than words. Mitch McConnell words translated into action and those actions we best never forget.

progressive_thinker 5 years, 3 months ago

Merrill: Have you seen this article?


While it appears to be pretty disingenuous for the Tea Publicans to now embrace immigration reform, this would suggest that there is at least an understanding that the GOP cannot embrace alienation of large groups of voters as a sustainable model for a political party.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

Some of the reactions from the right wing cosmos are bordering on the hysterical, such as John Schnatter's hissy over having to add 15 cents (to the consumer) to the cost of each pizza to pay for the cost of health care for his employees. This from a man that's worth a half billion dollars. Come on. Does he REALLY think that adding that cost is going to lose him customers? That it's going to effect his own bottom line? Dude, get a little perspective. The reality is that his meltdown is probably going to cost him more customers in the long run than what adding that 15 cents would have. People are already reacting to it with a truckload of disgust. It's also going to cost his franchisees. (Some are actually considering lawsuits for breach of contract because of how much Schnatter has hurt the brand.)
There is also another very big stumbling block on the road for GOP recovery; FOX News.
Reflecting what Pitts has said about fact resistance and "living in a reality of their own construction", the FOX bubble echo chamber endlessly loops what the people that watch it WANT to hear. Even now, their pundits are saying that Romney and the GOP lost, not because they were too conservative, but because they weren't conservative ENOUGH and are calling for doubling down on policies that were rejected to begin with. This is a pied piper that will eventually lead the entire party to it's destruction and, frankly, if I were your normal "street level" conservative I would be angry.

msezdsit 5 years, 3 months ago

How about the coal guy who laid off 160 employees right after the election, blaming it on obama. My guess is he was going to have to lay off those people anyway and held until after the election so he could blame it on the election if obama won.

I would stop buying this guy's pizza for the rant he went on. Oh, forgot, I already don't buy his pizza.

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

Or he is going to hire workers at a much lower wage, so he can keep more of the profits for himself. The trickle up theory.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

From Republican Mitch McConnell.

Did Repubs deliberately crash USA economy by blocking pro-growth policy /legislation? So why does the US economy stink?

Why has job creation in America slowed to a crawl? Why, after several months of economic hope, are things suddenly turning sour? The culprits might seem obvious – uncertainty in Europe, an uneven economic recovery, fiscal and monetary policymakers immobilized and incapable of acting. But increasingly, Democrats are making the argument that the real culprit for the country's economic woes lies in a more discrete location: with the Republican Party.

In recent days, Democrats have started coming out and saying publicly what many have been mumbling privately for years – Republicans are so intent on defeating President Obama for re-election that they are purposely sabotaging the country's economic recovery. These charges are now being levied by Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid and Obama's key political adviser, David Axelrod.

For Democrats, perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence of GOP premeditated malice is the 2010 quote from Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell:

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Such words lead some to the conclusion that Republicans will do anything, including short-circuiting the economy, in order to hurt Obama politically. Considering that presidents – and rarely opposition parties – are held electorally responsible for economic calamity, it's not a bad political strategy.


msezdsit 5 years, 3 months ago

The republican party has become the party of "hate and war". They use christianity as a club to bash their agenda down your throat while being the worst practitioners of christianity. Christianity doesn't say hate and control thy neighbor, it says love thy neighbor. When the economy crashes under their control, they all but declare war on the people who use the safety nets that our society has developed over years to "help thy neighbor" during hard times. They think capitalism means to profit at any cost, even if those costs eventually destroy capitalism. Greed has really taken over any sense right or fairness. Rich get richer poor get poorer, but hey, the poor are lazy so they deserve it. Republicans don't believe in people paying their fair share but rather turn "fair share" into me me me. They cling to a false "patriotism" that has really been flipped to mean "our way or the highway".

Off course, lots of republicans still cling to the former republican party but many of those people don't discern between the thugs that have taken over the party with the people like themselves that practice moderation and a sense of cooperation as a society to further the good of society.

The thugs spend millions and even billions on misinformation and demand that everyone buys their "rich get richer" agenda. And by the way, only the rich they endorse shold "get richer" under their draconian control.

Women and the poor are the big losers closely followed the ever shrinking middle class. Its to bad this country didn't treat their immigrant ancestors the same way they treat immigrants today. Maybe entire generations of these greed spreading, hate loving war mongers might not have ever been born or at least not in this county. Its time for the republican party to part ways with the infidels that have stolen their party or be prepared for a whole lot more disappointing election results.

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago


Did I not predict that with an Obama reelection that we would have a high probability of zombies?

msezdsit 5 years, 3 months ago

not making a whole lot of sense here saoul.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Isn't it a bit curious that both home loan fraud schemes occurred under republican administrations? Both cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. Shouldn't taxpayers own the banks and fire the upper level management!

Only the Bush/Cheney episode took down the world economy by selling off lots of bad home loan bundles to banks around the world. So when we hear bad mouthing of Spain,Greece and the European Union economies let's not forget the Bush/Cheney people played an active role.

Then again so did Bank of America,Citibank,Wells Fargo etc etc etc. Why keep your money in any of these banks?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

A lot of people aren't, anymore merril. My husband and I moved our money to a credit union over a year and a half ago and we now know very few people who keep their money in a main stream bank. (Some of them are actually on what you could call the "wealthy" side.)
In a move that a lot of people might think is crazy but could actually work in the long run, Occupy is buying up bad debt and then writing it off.


I'm not sure where they are getting the money to do that but then again, not every millionaire is a greedy scumbag.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

The right just needs to dump the god junk. If their politics were not contaminated by superstitions, they would soundly beat the democrats at every turn.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 3 months ago

True, but the magical thinking is in their DNA.

jrpigman 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes and no. The right garners a lot of votes on the pro-life issue, which while not explicitly religious, is definitely divided down evangelical lines.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 3 months ago

The obvious conclusion is that De Tocqueville never predicted the rise of the new global rich that have the ability to control governments or that an electorate would become so unappreciative of the cost of individual liberty that they could be talked into voting against their own interests. In fact, the power of propaganda to brainwash average Americans. Thus the reference by Pitts to cult like thinking is very appropriate.

voevoda 5 years, 3 months ago

If it is poor people who vote Democratic, Saoul, why then are the Republicans so stupid as to continue to enact policies that increase the ranks of the poor?

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

That's against the constitution, which you have never read. Instead: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi...

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

I see a rational third party of moderates and fiscal conservatives from both parties forming before I see Republicans accepting the fact that on a national level most people aren't interested in the Republican brand of social conservativism. Republicans will continue to rule in places where people want to control the private lives of others, but are a long way from winning another presidency, at least without major changes in their platform.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Zombie, de Toqueville's statements and philosophies were made in an era totally different from this one. Enfranchisement of women and minorities was unthinkable at that time and de Toqueville was an avid fan boi of the Bonapartes. Many of his ideas and philosophies have since been discredited by more modern thinkers.
On the other hand, it does add support to the idea that the GOP wanted to take the country back to the '50's. The 1850s.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

The quote does not originate with de Toqueville. And please don't encourage the zombie by responding to it.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

See my post below, Kat. I beat ya too it a while back :)

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

No, what discredits it is the fact that it's not de Toqueville at all. Nor is it Tytler's. It's a misattribution and the earliest appearance it made has been traced to 1951. (Back to those '50s. I KNEW there was something about that quote that was nibbling at me. I heard before that de Toqueville didn't say/write it. Had to do some research and go look it up on Wikiquote.)

headdoctor 5 years, 3 months ago

What is absolutely amazing about the Republican voters is the number of poorly educated, low income, and even disabled members who keep insisting on voting for a party that will do nothing to make it possible for them to strive to make better lives for their selves and their families.

voevoda 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe they vote Republican for the same reason that they buy lottery tickets,even though the odds are unequivocally stacked against them: it allows them to fantasize, if only for a brief period, that they could be rich.

headdoctor 5 years, 3 months ago

That may be a small factor voevoda but I tend to believe the continued vote is driven more by family tradition that may involve religion, greed, bigotry, and racism and a desire to be part of the group who they perceive has the most control and moral high ground.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

I actually read a blog post somewhere that the reason people like that do that is because they don't see themselves the way they are. They see themselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires".

weeslicket 5 years, 3 months ago

another point about demographic shifts. america is becoming less rural and more urban and suburban, or exurban if you like. generally, republicans won counties where people don't live, and the democrats won in counties where people do live. see: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2012/ and: http://www.politico.com/2012-election/map/#/President/2012/ (this isn't the link i wanted, but it'll work. click on a battleground state ::NH, OH, VA, FL, IA, CO, NV:: and see a striking pattern).

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

I am a religious person who has no doubt that there is a God. I do understand that it is acceptable if people wish to make fun of me for that reason, I too respect the need for free speech. However, just for the record, I have no plans on leaving my faith or my belief. There will always be those of us who do believe in God. I do not have a college diploma, I am not middle class, yet I voted for Obama twice. Liberal Democrats calling conservative Republicans names and making fun, and, yes, bullying, are not going to change anything for the better. When someone makes fun of you, you do not change your opinion to theirs, you just dig in your heels. Everyone, go sit in the corner and chill and think about how you can give a specific answer to a specific question or statement, and do not denigrate the person.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

OMG the crazy just got crazier!
When I first saw this article I honestly thought it was from The Onion. Except the author embedded video to prove it. From Fox.
Does anybody remember ANYTHING about a Dem claiming that Romney or the GOP would put women into "rape camps"? What the heck IS a "rape camp" anyway?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

As one person put it, it must depend on what KIND of rape it is; forcible, enjoyable, "God given", legitimate, legal, etc. (The one that made me laugh out loud, though, was, "Go home Fox. You're drunk.")

Carol Bowen 5 years, 3 months ago

Fox News is as tuned in as the GOP. They are losing listeners, because they make stuff up.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

"Rape" camps sound like what the Japanese did to Korean women (i.e. comfort women). Are rape camps anything like the FEMA indoctrination camps that Obama was supposed to put people into?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, yes. I know. I'm one of those who advocates for a muddled, mythical, moderate, middle. But in my opinion, go to someplace where the right dominates, and it's a mess. Topeka comes to mind. Go someplace where the left dominates, and it's also a mess. San Francisco comes to mind. Maybe that's what makes Lawrence such a great place, a strong left lean balanced by the state's strong right stance, achieving some sort of balance.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 3 months ago

Kobach tells us to let our feet do the voting. If you don't like it here, go to SF or similar.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

Except that, until recently, the state didn't lean that far right - it was more of a moderate stance.

Perhaps a "moderate-left" combination is a good one.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

I pretty much agree. When I vote, I think sending them a message is as important as voting for any particular individual. That's why, in this most recent election, I voted a straight party line, Democrats, for every office except President, where I voted third party. I haven't done that since the days of my youth.

But I agree that Kansas as a whole has taken a far too radical turn to the right and needs to be reigned in.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 3 months ago

Gee whiz, since when does having only 48% of the country mean that the party is done and needs radical change. All it really would have taken was at least trying to take some of the young vote. With 50% of college graduates not getting jobs, highest student debt in history, and record spending that this generation will inherit. Even if we cut 100% of military spending we would still only reduce the debt by a not so big fraction since social spending pretty far exceeds military spending.

The voter turnout this year seems dismal compared to 2008, people are only happy with Obama because Romney was the best the Republicans can come up with. 10 million fewer people voted for Obama than in 2008 while only 3 million fewer republicans voted for Romney than McCain in 2008.

In an election where many people decide their vote based on big bird, binders of women, and gaffes made by candidates, Romney isn't going to win over people who vote based on gut feelings as apposed to facts like 1 in 5 of americans on food stamps which is only a portion of the $60,000 dollars spent per household under the poverty line, record spending and debt that equals about $52,000 dollars for every man, woman and child in America, and only 85% literacy above 3rd grade level in america... This is a lot of people who aren't going to be getting the few thousand "green" jobs Obama is creating.

Stop quoting political commentators and pundits that are nothing except entertainers as if they represent the views of anyone but themselves if even that.

Sources: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/over-60000-welfare-spentper-household-poverty_657889.html Treasury Dept's "Debt to the Penny" page

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

This is just a flat-out dishonest massaging of data.

The money aggregated to come up with the $60,000 figure does not go exclusively to those living under the poverty line, and It includes things like Pell Grants to college students, most of whom don't classify as being below the poverty line.

An honest analysis of all the funding that was lumped together would show how the poverty line is both arbitrary and somewhat meaningless. And clearly, the authors who compiled this stinking pile have one goal only-- to return to the status quo of 1932.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 3 months ago

Ah, yes, Lawrence! A beautiful medium sized city surrounded by Kansas!

Carol Bowen 5 years, 3 months ago

Sorry to disillusion you, but research is showing we are entering a very racist era. The most recent I've seen is at http://www.floatingsheep.org/2012/11/mapping-racist-tweets-in-response-to.html. And, you do remember the comments by John Sonunu, don't you? And, yes, he really did say those things. I was watching the program. Couldn't believe my ears. Thank you for being independent. I was there once. It's hard to do these days.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

When did it become racist to point out racism? Right now, on the internet, are photos of Romney's HQ on election night. The white is blinding. Not a single person of color in the crowd. And I got called racist for pointing it out. Really????

Abdu Omar 5 years, 3 months ago

If all of you recall, during the primary season, the republicans were always worried if Mitt Romney could muster enough votes among the party because of the strong "Evangelical base". A political party in the USA that prides its self on the values of freedom of speech, press and religion, was afraid Romney couldn't energize the conservative evangelicals. What does religion have to do with politics? And why should we concern ourselves about what a religious group thinks? and why do we continually bash Obama because he might not be one of the evangelicals and may be a Muslim? And if he were ( and he isn't) a Muslim, what is so bad about that? Do you realize that there are between 11 and 13 Million Muslims in America and that they are not terrorists nor do they require special considerations in elections?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

An op-ed piece from Maureen Dowd at the NY Times. (I just adore this woman. She's my kind of "Irish".)
Some favorite bits:
"Until now, Republicans and Fox News have excelled at conjuring alternate realities. But this time, they made the mistake of believing their fake world actually existed. As Fox’s Megyn Kelly said to Karl Rove on election night, when he argued against calling Ohio for Obama: “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”"

"Romney was still running in an illusory country where husbands told wives how to vote, and the wives who worked had better get home in time to cook dinner. But in the real country, many wives were urging husbands not to vote for a Brylcreemed boss out of a ’50s boardroom whose party was helping to revive a 50-year-old debate over contraception."

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

Another piece from Frank Rich at the New York Magazine called "Fantasyland". (Are we seeing a theme here?)
"‎In truth, Romney was a perfect embodiment of the current GOP. As much as the Republican Party is a radical party, and a nearly all-white party, it has also become the Fantasyland Party. It’s an isolated and gated community impervious to any intrusions of reality from the “real America” it solipsistically claims to represent."

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 3 months ago

Disappointed Regressives seem to have stopped posting on these stories, except for a few.

Too painful? Their bubble bursting like a swollen blood blister?

For many in the GOP, change is impossible.

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