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“Meet The GOP’s New Black Friend”: What Exactly Does Mia Love Represent For The Republican Party?

When Allen West was defeated in the 2012 election and Tim Scott was appointed to serve out the term of retiring South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, that left Republicans back where they had usually been in the past, with not a single black Republican in the House of Representatives. This is something they aren’t particularly pleased about, which is why in the coming year you’re going to be hearing a lot about Mia Love, a candidate from Utah’s 4th district. Barring some shocking scandal, come November she’ll be bringing that number from zero up to one, and she’s going to become a right-wing celebrity. Mia Love is the Republicans’ New Black Friend.

You may remember Love from the 2012 Republican convention, where she gave a not-particularly-memorable speech. She couldn’t beat Jim Matheson, the conservative Democrat who represented the district, despite the fact that Mitt Romney won there by a 37-point margin. But now Matheson has just announced that he’s retiring, which makes Love’s election in what was supposed to be a rematch all but certain. So get ready: Mia Love is going to be the most famous Republican House candidate in the country. She’ll be on Fox News more often than Sean Hannity. She’ll be touted by all the conservative radio hosts. I’m betting they’ll put her on the cover of National Review. Because that’ll show those liberals.

I guess the question conservatives might ask is, “What’s wrong with that?” Lots of politicians are elevated by their party because of something that their personal story is supposed to represent. But the question is, what exactly does Mia Love represent for the Republican party? It’s not like she’s the first of a coming wave of black Republican leaders, and certainly not female black Republican leaders. That isn’t going to happen. It’s not like she is a harbinger of a change in the Republican approach toward African-Americans and other minority groups. Maybe she’ll turn out to be some spectacular talent who will rise to untold heights, but she hasn’t yet shown that she’s that, either.

Conservatives might also say, “Didn’t liberals love Barack Obama because he was black?” It’s true that Obama’s race was part of his appeal to the left. The difference is, first, that it was only part of it, while you could probably ask a hundred Republicans what they know about Mia Love and 99 of them would only be able to tell you one thing. But more importantly, in 2008 the elevation of an African-American presidential candidate was a genuine reflection of liberal values and history. Liberals are the ones who have always advocated for civil rights and continue to do so. Their party is the multicultural, multi-ethnic, multiracial one. They did want Obama’s nomination to say something about themselves, but it was something true. What do conservatives want Love’s election to say about them?

I suppose it’s possible that blacks (and members of other minority groups, too) will see all the attention Love will get and say, “Hmm, maybe those Republicans are changing.” Or they might think just the opposite, that they’re trying way too hard with her, and its a kind of tokenism that only reinforces their basic problem. That being said, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the GOP making Mia Love a star. There are black female conservatives out there—not many, but some. It’s only questionable if they try to use her election as evidence for an assertion that is otherwise without support, like “We’re not just the party of white people.” When nearly nine in ten of your voters are white, you are. Even if you elect one black Republican from Utah.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, December 20, 2013

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wacko Birds Of A Feather”: Right Wing Obligatory Chores Essential To Maintaining Good Relations With The GOP Base

Those who marveled at my earlier post about David Barton’s belief that legalized abortion is the cause of climate change should be aware that the “historian” is not only the chief inspiration for the whole “Christian Nation” meme that has largely been accepted as a truism by much of the American Right, but swims in some of the same waters as regular old Republican pols.

This becomes apparent if you look at one of ol’ David’s favorite organizations, the American Renewal Project, the very insider Christian Right group closely aligned with the aggressively homophobic American Family Association, and run by the famously influential David Lane, whose main vehicle is the “Pastor’s Policy Briefings” that bring pols in on the carpet to be instructed by clergy in an off-the-record context.

Barton was present at the first such event of the 2014 electoral cycle in Iowa back in July. So, too, were Rand Paul, and the man who stole the show, Ted Cruz (per this account from the Des Moines Register‘s Jennifer Jacobs:

This morning, Cruz spoke for nearly an hour at the Iowa Renewal Project, a two-day, all-expenses-paid forum organized by David Lane, a political activist from California who has been quietly mobilizing evangelicals in Iowa for six years. Two top-name GOP politicians who are likely 2016 presidential candidates – Cruz and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, both born-again Christians – are the stars of today’s sessions.

Cruz lectured for 30 minutes, his voice at times rising to a shout. He answered questions for another 20 minutes, then stood at the center of a circle as pastors laid their hands on him and the whole audience – a predominantly white group with about 20 black pastors – bowed heads to pray for him.

Then there was this tidbit, which is even more interesting now that David Corn has drawn attention to a certain reverend close to the junior senator from Texas:

Cruz, who told The Des Moines Register he has never been to Iowa before, laid out his social conservative credentials in some detail, explaining all the religious issues he defended in court cases he worked on as a private lawyer and as solicitor general in Texas. He introduced his Cuban immigrant father, Rafael Cruz, who sat in the audience.

That was then. This is now, today, per Andrew Shain of The State:

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is reaching out Monday to the same audience of South Carolina pastors that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited twice before his surprise victory in the state’s 2012 presidential primary.

Cruz, an expected White House hopeful who was the lightning rod during last month’s 16-day partial federal government shutdown, will speak at a Columbia hotel. It is one of many events that evangelical political operative David Lane has organized in key battleground states since 2005.

Lane’s American Renewal Project is financed by the American Family Association, the Mississippi-based Christian organization that advocates on social issues. Lane’s goal is to get more evangelicals to the polls via the “pastors’ policy briefings’’ that he has held over the years, including a half-dozen in South Carolina.

SC Sen. Tim Scott is also on the agenda for this event, entitled “Rediscovering God in America.” The preachers and pols will also hear from “historian” William Federer, who argues, among other things, that Benghazi! was an Alinskyite plot by Hillary Clinton to impose “global Sharia law.” Seriously:

I could go on and on (another speaker at the SC event, Dr. Laurence White, delivered a blood-curdling speech I happened to hear in Iowa last year attacking Christians who tolerate “the perverted standards of the ungodly who live around us” and damned anyone who would in any way compromise with baby-killing pro-choicers). But you get the point. Pundits who casually talk about pols in both parties pandering to “extremists” or “interest groups” clearly don’t get it. There is no analog among Democratic politicians–certainly those considered possible serious candidates for president–consorting with people as “out there” as Barton and Federer and White and AFA founder Don Wildmon (another speaker in Columbia) and Lane and Lord knows who else. For Republicans, it’s not only business as usual, but essential to good relations with “the base” and an obligatory chore on the road to the presidential nomination.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, November 4, 2013

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Party Full Of Rodeo Clowns”: GOP Flips The Bird To Racial Justice

Republicans haven’t been truly competitive for the African-American vote since Richard Nixon got a third of black voters in 1960 against John F. Kennedy, who spent most of that campaign hedging his bets on civil rights. After that, the party of Lincoln actively drove black people into the ranks of Democrats. The testimony of black Republicans who were sidelined, excluded and even attacked at the 1964 convention in San Francisco, when the party nominated the anti-civil rights Barry Goldwater, is painful to read.

In the post-Reagan years, however, Republicans became more careful about blatantly spurning the support of African-Americans, mainly because an image of racial tolerance, at least, was deemed essential to gaining the support of white moderates and independents; soccer moms, it was said, didn’t like overt racism. Then-Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman’s 2006 speech to the NAACP repudiating the GOP’s ’60s-era “Southern Strategy” wasn’t designed to seriously challenge the Democrats’ lock on black votes, but to give moderates, and maybe even Latinos, a reason to hope the party was evolving on race.

That’s all behind us. As recently as 2007, I believe, it would have been unthinkable that no major Republican leader would accept an invitation to join Wednesday’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. But that’s what happened this week, even though a delusional Bill O’Reilly claimed last night that “no Republicans and no conservatives were invited” to speak. As usual, O’Reilly is wrong: House Speaker John Boehner was washing his hair; wait, he was visiting Wyoming (the sixth whitest state in the U.S., by the way). Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who traveled to Selma with Rep. John Lewis last year, was likewise otherwise engaged. Both Presidents Bush are recuperating from health troubles. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was invited in his brother and father’s stead, but he had other plans. Sen. John McCain also declined.

“We had a very concerted effort, because this is not a political moment,” said Rep. Leah Daughtry, executive producer of the commemoration. “This was about us coming together as a community, so we wanted to be sure that we had all political representations,” Daughtry said. “We attempted very vigorously to have someone from the GOP participate and unfortunately they were unable to find someone who was able to participate.”

RNC chairman Reince Priebus pointed to the fact that Republicans held their own King commemoration Monday, inviting only blacks who are Republicans. Sounds like a fun time — a separate but equal celebration.

The fact that no leading Republican bothered to attend the 50th anniversary commemoration shows how far to the right they’ve moved on race. It’s not just that they’ve thrown in the towel when it comes to appealing to black voters. They also don’t think it’s worth it to make an extra effort to appeal to white voters who flinch at racism.

Thursday morning’s campaign by some Republicans to make march organizers out to be the real racists, because they didn’t invite South Carolina’s appointed black senator, Tim Scott, represents the usual GOP game of racial tit-for-tat. The fact is, the organizers were reaching out to national GOP leaders, and Scott is not one of them. His hostility to everything the Congressional Black Caucus stands for also makes him an unlikely and provocative choice as speaker.

If Scott asked to speak and was rebuffed, we haven’t heard about it. Nothing stopped him, or any other Republican, from wandering down to the Mall to join the throng. Such a move would have attracted media attention and it would almost certainly have been positive. Reporters are desperate to find signs of moderation and decency in today’s Republican Party.

Unfortunately, Republicans aren’t desperate to display such signs. Right now they’re comfortable with the status quo, in which more than 90 percent of self-described GOP voters are white, in a country that’s barely 60 percent white, and getting less white every day. While MSNBC was broadcasting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 speech in its entirety, former Sen. Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation was buffoonishly tweeting: “Would MLK have approved of Obamacare?” DeMint couldn’t be bothered to walk to the Mall and talk to any of King’s actual or political heirs. He’s just another rodeo clown in a party that’s teeming with them.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, August 29, 2013

August 30, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Martin Luther King Jr | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Few, The Proud, The Frightened”: Only The Fringe Standing With Rand Paul On Aid To Egypt

Yesterday wasn’t the best day for Rand Paul’s efforts to transform himself from a less cranky version of his old man into a power broker and potential presidential candidate in the Republican Party. Aside from Chris Christie’s contemptuous rejection of Paul’s suggestion that they sit down over a tall cool one and resolve their war of words over foreign policy, Paul failed to make much headway in the Senate in his long-standing attempt to cut off military aid to Egypt, despite having an almost ideal set of circumstances. While Democrats united behind the administration’s position that an aid cutoff could de-stabilize Egypt, most of the floor action involved the pummeling of Paul by his Republican colleagues, prior to a 86-13 vote against his amendment to the THUD appropriations bill.

WaPo’s Dana Milbank captured the flavor of the debate:

More than a dozen senators sat or stood at their desks in the usually empty chamber, engaging Paul, who tried to rebut their points. So many wished to join the fray that Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) extended the debate.

The result reinforced the proud tradition of internationalism in the body, and in the GOP. For all the talk of a Republican civil war over foreign policy, Wednesday’s vote showed that the internationalists still dominate. McCain portrayed Paul as the heir to the America Firsters. But there has been no growth in the isolationist sentiment since March, when an amendment to restrict aid to Egypt failed, 74-25, or since September 2012, when a Paul bill to cut off aid to Egypt, Pakistan and Libya went down, 81-10.

The coup de grace probably occurred when Lindsay Graham read aloud a letter from AIPAC opposing the aid cutoff.

McCain needled Paul. “The question here is whether the senator from Kentucky knows what’s better for Israel, or Israel.”

Paul shook his head, reclaimed the floor and challenged the “so-called leadership” of AIPAC.

When the clerk called the roll, McCain whipped his colleagues aggressively: arguing with Dean Heller (R-Nev.) after the new senator took Paul’s side, applauding when John Hoeven (R-N.D.) voted against Paul and working over Tim Scott (R-S.C.) until the senator cried uncle. “I’m with you,” Scott said.

For the Republican internationalists, this wasn’t about winning but dominating.

Well, maybe. 13 Republicans decided to Stand with Rand on aid to Egypt. That’s just one short of the number of Republican senators who stood with McCain and Graham on immigration reform, which was supposedly a triumph of party “pragmatism” against the craziness of the House GOP. You also see some significant names supporting Paul’s amendment: Mike Lee, the majordomo of the Senate’s “constitutional conservatives,” and his boon companion Ted Cruz, a potential rival of Paul’s in 2016. There’s Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who may be counting on help from Paul in rebuffing a primary challenge from Lynn Cheney that bids fair to become a national Neocon crusade. And then there was Mitch McConnell, who has clearly decided that snuggling up to Paul is his best insurance against his own primary challenge next year.

For dedicated Paulites, this was just another vote in a long struggle against foreign policy internationalists in both parties. For the GOP as a whole, it’s unclear whether the vote pitted the dominant faction against the fringe, or the party’s past against its future.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 1, 2013

August 3, 2013 Posted by | Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“White Districts And White Sensibilities”: The Real Problem Republicans Have, They Don’t Want To Change Their Policies

You may have heard that in the incoming Congress, white men will constitute a minority of the Democratic caucus for the first time. That’s an interesting fact, but it’s only part of the story. At National Journal, Ron Brownstein and Scott Bland have a long, Brownsteinian look at how “the parties glare across a deep racial chasm” not only in the members of Congress themselves, but in the people they represent. “Republicans now hold 187 of the 259 districts (72 percent) in which whites exceed their national share of the voting-age population. Democrats hold 129 of the 176 seats (73 percent) in which minorities exceed their national share of the voting-age population. From another angle, 80 percent of Republicans represent districts more heavily white than the national average; 64 percent of House Democrats represent seats more heavily nonwhite than the national average.”

The implications for the GOP of the fact that most of their members represent mostly white districts are profound, touching on the continuous interaction between individuals and policy. Politicians are shaped by their political environments and the things they have to do to win, and the fact that most GOP members represent overwhelmingly white districts means that as they rise through the ranks, the time they’re going to have to spend talking to and listening to non-white people is going to be limited. Brownstein and Bland talked to some of the few Republicans who represent more diverse districts:

But even some House Republicans from racially diverse districts worry that many of their colleagues representing more monolithically white areas aren’t doing enough to court minorities. “Honestly, I don’t believe they are,” says Rep. Joe Heck, who won reelection in a diverse district outside Las Vegas.

Heck says he’s established beachheads among minority voters by working first with ethnic chambers of commerce. “For me, meeting with the members of the chamber was a door to building relationships with members of those communities,” he says. Then he hired aides to coordinate outreach to Hispanic and Asian constituents; during his campaign, he organized coalitions in those communities. “When I’m home in the district, we would do entire outreach days, visiting multiple Hispanic businesses, even ones outside of my district.”

As it happens, Joe Heck is an extremely conservative Republican. But he does all that outreach because he has no choice. And over time, that will make him more understanding of, and sensitive to, the concerns of people who aren’t white. It means that he’ll have a better awareness of the things that piss Hispanics off, and learning how not to piss different kinds of people off—with both substance and symbolism—is a big part of politics. This is important for both sides, and with a variety of constituencies. For instance, one of the first things you learn working on a Democratic campaign is that every piece of printed material you produce, from brochures to door hangers, has to have on it the tiny union “bug” that shows it was printed at a union shop. If it doesn’t, you can be damn sure you’ll get some angry phone calls from union members and representatives, because they notice. Republicans have I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed for their own constituencies as well. But somebody coming up through Republican politics in an overwhelmingly white district won’t have to learn, for instance, what pisses off Hispanics. So when they talk about immigration their speech is peppered with terms like “illegal aliens” that Hispanics find, well, alienating.

The advantage Democrats have is that nobody has to teach them how to talk to white people, because you learn that no matter where you live. It’s the same reason colleges don’t offer courses in White History or White Literature—you’re already learning it. Yes, there are subgroups of whites whom you can fail to understand, but it’s a lot less likely that you’re going to alienate them and end up losing the White House because of it.

So the real problem Republicans have isn’t that they don’t want to recruit minorities, because they do. They don’t want to change their policies to do it, of course, but they’re pleased as punch when they find someone like Tim Scott or Ted Cruz, a real-live minority who also happens to be rabidly right-wing, whom they can hold up as an example. Their problem is that they don’t know how to attract minority voters, because where most of them come from, they don’t have to.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, January, 15, 2013

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Ideologues, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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