Friday, December 6, 2013

GOP's Incredible Shrinking Big Tent

Jamelle Bouie on the Republican Party's apparent inability to act in its own best electoral interests in The Daily Beast.

Most Republicans agree that the party needs a bigger tent. Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee released a whole report to that effect, and individual Republican lawmakers can’t stop talking about how their party is open to everyone. “We need to say we’re the party of the big tent,” said Texas Senator John Cornyn during an election event last month, to use one example. It’s great that the GOP wants to be inclusive. The problem comes when it’s time to do something about it. Not only has the party rejected efforts to appeal to non-traditional voters—like Latinos—but it’s members and spokespeople continue to create the impression that the party is out-of-touch with everyone but a small (and shrinking) slice of the country.

The simple fact is that the GOP is nowhere close to making gains with any of the constituencies it needs to be a competitive national party. Indeed, it’s even moving forward with ideas that could alienate its existing supporters. In addition to opposing the president’s plan for a minimum wage hike and a Democratic push for new unemployment benefits—policies which would assist Republican voters and constituents—some GOP lawmakers have voiced their opposition to the idea of a minimum wage. “I think it’s outlived its usefulness,” said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, as quoted by National Journal. “It may have been of some value back in the Great Depression. I would vote to repeal the minimum wage.”

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