The Rich, White, Conservative GOP Must Change, But It Won’t

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The red “GOP” logo used by the party for its website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

Mitt Romney had hardly conceded before Republicans started fighting over where to head next. Some Republicans—and many Democrats—now claim that the writing is on the wall: demography is destiny, which means the GOP is going the way of the Whigs and the Dodo. Across the country, they see an aging white majority shrinking as the US heads for the future as a majority-minority country and the Grand Old Party becomes the Gray Old Party. Others say: not so fast.

In the month since 51% of the electorate chose to keep Barack Obama in the White House, I’ve spent my time listening to GOP pundits, operators, and voters. While the Party busily analyzes the results, its leaders and factions are already out front, pushing their own long-held opinions and calling for calm in the face of onrushing problems.

Do any of their proposals exhibit a willingness to make the kind of changes the GOP will need to attract members of the growing groups that the GOP has spent years antagonizing like Hispanics, Asian Americans, unmarried women, secular whites, and others? In a word: no.

Instead, from my informal survey, it looks to this observer (and former Republican) as if the party is betting all its money on cosmetic change. Think of it as the Botox Solution. It wants to tweak its talking points slightly and put more minority and female Republicans on stage as spokespeople. Many in the GOP seem to believe that this will do the trick in 2014 and beyond. Are they deluded?

[Read more: motherjones]


The Tea Party Is Dead. Long Live the Tea Party

Republican Party (United States)

Republican Party (United States) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the Tea Party became a victim of its own rhetoric which was what everyone hoped for. I think they’re going to go for the second option below, though. That’s right –  the clueless one.


But none of that matters. The tea party has done its job, and for all practical purposes its hard-nosed, no-compromise ideology now controls the Republican Party in a way that neither the Birchers nor the Clinton conspiracy theorists ever did. It’s no longer a wing of the Republican Party, it is the Republican Party.

So what’s next? Having now lost two presidential elections in a row, conventional wisdom says Republicans have two choices. The first is to admit that tea partyism has failed. 2012 was its best chance for victory, and evolving demographics will only make hardcore conservatism less and less popular. As South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has put it, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” So the party will need to moderate or die.

The second option is to double down. Party activists will tell themselves that Mitt Romney was never a true conservative, and that’s what voters sensed. But Republicans can win again in 2016 if they stay true to their principles, moving farther right and amping up the obstruction of all things Obama even more. In Congress, Paul Ryan will be their pied piper and Eric Cantor will be their enforcer.

[More here: motherjones]


5 Unhinged Right-Wing Reactions to Romney’s Defeat

1. Melodramatic Social Media Users Declare “America died”

In case you were preoccupied with the news of the presidential election, you may have missed the other breaking news story that “America died” last night. At least, that’s some of the wildly hyperbolic claims that were flying around the social media stratosphere last night, as Republican voters took to Twitter to mourn over their vanquished candidate.

Some of the tweets were merely melodramatic, such the claim “A thousand years of darkness begins tonight.”

Yet others were downright terrifying. One man declared that he is “Loadin up on guns, gas, mudgrips, and some Copenhagen to prepare for the next four years.”

[More here: alternet]

As the 2012 Campaign Wraps, Republicans Lose and America Wins

Right. I didn’t have time to blog on the most  important days on the political calendar this year, and I don’t actually have time today either. But here are a few highlights on the US election from around the web.

Obamacare is officially no longer a dirty word, as Democratic President Barack Obama wins his reelection campaign and will serve a second term in the White House. It wasn’t just an affirmation of approval of the president and his policies, but a rejection of Republican extremism that took what could have been a victory for the GOP in the senate and instead kept it firmly in Democratic hands.

Democrats won nearly every one of their contested senate races, often with progressive female candidates as the victors. Massachussett’s Elizabeth Warren unseated Tea Party special election victor Scott Brown. And Tammy Baldwin will be the next senator from Wisconsin, making her the first lesbian senator. Even less progressive Democrats, such as Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill defeated Congressman Todd “legitimate rape” Akin and kept her seat. In fact, every single Democratic female senator up for reelection retained her seat.

[More on: rhrealitycheck]


Romney Closes Dirty

Brian Cahn/Zuma (use here not necessarily endorsed).

Mitt Romney had a choice this election: He could surf the bubbling froth of right-wing rage against the president all the way to the White House, or he could discard the racialized narrative of the Obama presidency put forth by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich.

Throughout the campaign, much of his party was pushing him in one direction: Some Republicans still believed the president was not born in the United States; conservative media figures presented everything from Obama’s economic policy to the Affordable Care Act as seeking racial vengeance, accused him of lying about his religion, and argued that he secretly sympathizes with America’s enemies. As National Journal’s Ron Brownstein dubbed it, the 2012 election is a battle between the gray and the brown, the GOP’s aging white base versus the Democrats’ increasingly diverse coalition. Relying almost exclusively on the white vote, however, is a strategy with an expiration date. It’s a move that cuts against the demographic tide. As one Republican adviser put it to Brownstein, “this is the last time anyone will try to do this.”

[More here: motherjones]


Romney Pushed Boundaries of ‘Acceptable Racism’ to Extremes

Romney’s mechanise (possibly not endorsed or possibly very much endorsed).

A decade from now, if I’m asked to name the most memorable thing about the 2012 presidential campaign, it will probably be the sheer mendacity of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s rhetoric, lie piled upon lie.

But if asked what one thing about the 2012 campaign most impacted everyday American life, one answer stands out above all others: racism. The wink-wink racial coding Romney uses, combined with the unabashed racism of such surrogates as former Bush administration chief of staff John Sununu , adds up to quite a wash of race-baited waters over the campaign. Then add to that the steady stream of racist rhetoric that characterized the Republican presidential primary campaign, and the wash looks more like a stew set on simmer for the better part of a year.

[Read more: alternet]

Romney economic policy: Expect a lot of obstruction and not much change

Would a Democratic Senate help or hinder a President Romney? Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Barack Obama’s second-term economic policy is relatively easy to figure out, because it would mostly involve taking advantage of changes that are already scheduled to happen.

Understanding what would happen in a Mitt Romney administration is much more difficult. The starting point is to realize that Romney has been overpromising and liberals have been overworrying about it. The fact of the matter is that unless current polling is badly mistaken, even if Romney wins,Democrats are overwhelmingly likely to hold a majority in the Senate, meaning swathes of his stated agenda will be dead on arrival.

[More here - slate]


Meet 8 Romney-Backed Senate Candidates Who Would Force Victims to Have Their Rapists’ Babies

With all of the excitement attending the recent comments of Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, that a pregnancy conceived in rape is a “gift from God,” much of the political class is shaking its collective head at the refusal of presidential candidate Mitt Romney to revoke his endorsement of Mourdock — or at least to pull his endorsement ad for the former state treasurer from the Hoosier state airwaves.

What they’ve missed is the fact that, in today’s Republican Party, Mourdock’s position is the new normal. Among the handful of Republican senatorial candidates who echo Mourdock’s contention that even a rape-induced pregancy is sacred are several who, like Tim Smith in Pennsylvania, are polliing well against their Democratic opponents.

[More: alternet

GOP Split Over Whether to Emphasize Misogyny or Racism

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, there is a deep divide among Republican leaders over whether to emphasize misogyny or racism as the campaign’s closing theme.

In one camp is the Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who says that his view that God is sometimes O.K. with rape is “gaining real traction with a key demographic: men who don’t like women very much.”

“I can’t tell you how many misogynists have come up to me at my rallies and said, ‘Thank you for saying what you said,’ ” he told reporters today. “I think they’re like, finally, someone’s taking a more nuanced position on rape.


Young, female and undecided, McCain voters defecting to Obama are older white males

Cat Castellanos says she’s in the demographic Mitt Romney needs to win over.

Did second debate sway the woman swing vote? Yahoo! News Watch the video Did second debate sway the woman swing vote?

Young, female and undecided CNN I’m the demographic Romney needs to win over: Young, female, undecided. My conservative side wants to like Mitt, but he’s not making it easy. Don’t tell me you’re out of work and understand unemployment when you are worth $200 million and post-grads …

Flirting with the female vote Boston Herald But keeping women’s votes is why a new Romney ad features a woman worried that Romney’s too “extreme, so I looked into it,” says an actual volunteer. “Turns out Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option …

The accidental women’s voice Boston Globe She is a walking embodiment of a certain right-wing attitude — a view that’s enhanced, fairly or not, when certain people make references to “binders full of women.” And she’s a symbol of the unusual chance the Democrats have to win the women’s vote …

[More on: psawomenpolitics]

Why Mitt Romney is the wrong choice on abortion rights

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The red “GOP” logo used by the party for its website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He keeps changing his tune, and it’s pretty obvious that Mitt doesn’t actually care about abortion — he’ll just do whatever the GOP tells him to. And that’s exactly why we should be worried. Take, for example, his pledge to reinstate the Global Gag Rule:

In the same interview in which Romney claimed abortion wasn’t on his legislative agenda, he also pledged to reinstate the “global gag rule”, a policy that cuts off US funding to any organization abroad that so much as mentions abortion as an option for women, provides abortions with its own non-US dollars or advocates for abortion rights. Laws preventing US money from paying for abortions abroad have been on the books since the 1970s; the gag rule is particularly pernicious because it goes significantly further than that and cuts funding to groups that are providing an array of crucial reproductive medical services in places where death from childbirth is routine. The gag rule was put in place by President Reagan, rescinded by Democratic presidents including Barack Obama and put back into place by Republican ones.

[More: feministe]


‘Binders full of women’ reconsider voting for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney’s claim to have promoted women in government while governor of Massachusetts did not fact-check out. Photograph: Amy Sussman.

Until now, the Republican ‘war on women’ was mostly a meme wielded by Democrats. But Mitt’s mask has slipped on equality.

In Tuesday night’s second presidential debate, however, Mitt Romney not only failed to further his case that he understood women’s lives, he made the mistake of revealing exactly what it is he might be able to do for them: commission a “binder full” of their resumes.

Right. I guess this is what makes him a “small-government conservative”. Forget creating a law that allows women to sue for equal pay (the Ledbetter Act, Obama’s first major piece of legislation); just personally hire a woman every once in a while.

There were certainly moments that I found more offensive than Romney’s unintentionally hilarious creation of a new collective noun (“a binder of women” – like, you know, a convocation of eagles), even though it edged right up to the margins of implying actual physical harm. (Binder? I hardly knew her!) There was, for instance, his weird insistence that traditional families could prevent gun violence – as everyone knows there were no mass shooting murders until gay marriage was invented in 2003.

And there’s the fact that Romney’s whole “binder full of women” anecdote was completely bogus: he commissioned no such binder; it was provided to him by a bipartisan coalition of women’s groups, which had created it prior to his election. Further, the number of women working in Massachusetts government actually went down during his tenure. I guess it wasn’t really that full a binder.

The biggest problem with making voters believe that Romney (or the Republican party in general) is conducting a “war on women” has been, up until now, that Romney and his colleagues just don’t seem very scary. The children’s show aficionado and advocate of cautious capitalism of the first debate is a case in point, but even the more combative presence in New York on Tuesday evening doesn’t seem like someone that would do women any harm (though he would totally hit Obama if he could).


Seven Ways Mormonism Shaped Mitt Romney

Say what you will about Mitt Romney; he is a devoted to his religion. A multi-generational Mormon, he has held high-ranking leadership positions and donated millions of dollars to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). For many, religion goes to the core of their belief system, so what does it mean for Mitt to be a Mormon? Of course, Mitt is not just any Mormon; he inherited the special status that comes with being the son of a wealthy Governor. Looking into Mitt’s religious experience might provide some insight into his character and an explanation to some of the things he says on the campaign trail.

1. Mormons are expected to spend a couple of years as missionaries and, when Mitt’s time came, he was sent to France.

While in France, Mitt was involved in a terrible car wreck that claimed the life of his supervisor’s wife. When his supervisor went home for the funeral, Mitt was left in charge of the French effort. He immediately moved from the countryside to a home in the wealthy district of Paris complete with artwork and servants. By all accounts, the young Romney led a heroic effort of converting over 200 French people to a religion that prohibits drinking any alcohol, including wine. If Mitt seems undaunted by taking unpopular positions (i.e. more tax cuts for the wealthy), it could stem from his days of selling austerity to the French.

2. There is a well known strong puritanical streak that runs through Mormonism.

The “Word of Wisdom” requires members to abstain from not only alcohol, but also tobacco, coffee and tea. In addition, they are supposed to refrain from sex until marriage. Non-Mormons are not even allowed at the wedding ceremony, including family members of the bride or groom. Although Mitt admits to tasting a beer and sampling a cigarette during his wild teenage days, he’s been squeaky clean ever since. And while this demonstrates a determination and discipline that is admirable, it makes me wonder how relatable he is to most Americans.



Where Were Women in Last Night’s Presidential Debate?

There were a lot of words we didn’t hear during the presidential debate last night, “breast cancer” being two of them.  “Women” was also conspicuously absent, as was “women’s health.” “Environment” “poverty” “immigration” ”affordable housing” and “inequality” also took a backseat to lengthy lectures on tax plans and market-based healthcare solutions.

Were we naïve to have expected breast cancer be discussed in last night’s presidential debate? If you consider asking three men to make a women’s health issue a priority, perhaps; however, it’s not naïve if you face the stark reality that breast cancer is a public health epidemic for which the leading risk factor in the U.S. is being a woman.

The issues that fuel breast cancer are central to women’s health. Yet for over 30 years the government has outsourced breast cancer to organizations like Komen and Avon, (which are beholden to corporate funding) rather than create strong policies and fund independent research to help address and end the breast cancer epidemic. The cost is women now face a public health crisis of epidemic proportions.

As you know from our work, we don’t privilege breast cancer over other diseases. We strongly believe that if government turned its attention to fully address and end the breast cancer epidemic, the impact will reach far beyond people who have breast cancer because the root causes of breast cancer lie at the heart of many human and civil rights issues: of course basic quality healthcare but also inequality, immigration, racial discrimination, environmental degradation, corporate influence in politics, affordable housing, and so much more. In order to get to the root causes of an epidemic that kills 40,000 women a year, we must engage the bigger than just breast cancer issues of environmental and social justice.


Fact Check: Romney Told 27 Myths in 38 Minutes During the Debate

Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for  38 minutes  of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths:

1) “[G]et us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs” . Romney’s plan for “energy independence” actually relies heavily on a study that assumes the U.S. continues with fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration. For instance, he uses Citigroup research based off the assumption that “‘the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that will lower its oil demand.” Since he promises to undo the Obama administration’s new  fuel efficiency standards,  he would cut oil consumption savings of 2 million barrels per day by 2025.



Fact: Romney’s Big Dream of Repealing Obama’s Health Reforms Would Raise the Abortion Rate

Shortly after the first presidential debate, a new study was published that revealed Romney’s plan to repeal Obamacare would ultimately result in many more unwanted pregnancies. The new data published by the Contraceptive CHOICE Project in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that providing women with no-cost birth control, as does Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and educating them on effective protective measures dramatically reduced unwanted pregnancies.

Researchers enrolled 9,256 adolescents and women from the St. Louis region who were at risk of unintended pregnancy, such as those who had used abortion services in the past.  For three years, the women were counseled on effective birth control methods, while IUDs and implants were emphasized (as pills require strict adherence). They were also provided with this birth control at no cost.



Mitt Romney’s delusional foreign policy

The single best description that one can make about Mitt Romney‘s foreign policy agenda to date is that, quite simply, it’s a critique, not a policy.

Rather than lay out a vision for American power, or even an alternative to the national security stewardship of Barack Obama, Romney has been content to simply say why he thinks the president has done a lousy job, without offering voters any sense of what he would do differently as commander-in-chief. Andhis speech at Virginia Military Institute Monday was pretty much more of the same.

Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a single substantive difference between what Romney is proposing as a candidate and Obama is actually doing as president. Consider, for example, Romney’s discussion of Iran – an area in which he has claimed there are significant contrasts between his views and those of the president:

“I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United Statesand our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf the region – and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.”

I dare you to try and identify any difference between this policy and the policy currently being implemented by President Obama. Aside from perhaps a slightly more punitive approach to sanctions, and a more direct reference to the use of force in the last sentence, the two candidate’s approaches are almost completely identical. Monday’s entire speech from Romney was like this.

[Read more: commentisfree]


Romney’s failing campaign hurting Republicans in congressional races

All good.

Mitt Romney‘s collapsing campaign is beginning to hurt Republican chances in key congressional races, risking their hopes of taking the Senate as a bastion against a second-term Barack Obama presidency.

More and more Republican congressional candidates are distancing themselves from their party’s White House ticket as they are hit by ads from their Democratic opponents linking them to Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.

[Read more: guardian]