ROBINSON: Republicans are lost in their own wilderness
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.
As they try to understand why the party lost an election it was confident of winning — and why it keeps losing budget showdowns in Congress — Republican grandees are asking the wrong questions. Predictably, they are coming up with the wrong answers.
They prefer to focus on flawed tactics and ineffectual
In post-debacle speeches and interviews, Republicans are sounding — and there's no kind way to put this — paranoid and delusional. House Speaker John Boehner said in a speech to the Ripon Society that the Obama administration is trying to
It is no secret that Obama is trying to advance a progressive agenda. He promised as much in his campaign speeches. Were Republicans not listening? Did they think he was just joshing? In five of the last six presidential elections, Democrats have won the popular vote. Republicans have done well at the state level and through redistricting have made their majority in the House difficult to dislodge. But it's not possible to lead the country from the speaker's chair, as Boehner can attest. To have a chance at effecting transformative change, you have to win the White House.
And to win the White House, you have to convince voters that the policies you seek to enact are the right ones. This is what the GOP doesn't seem to understand.
If minority voters continue to favor the Democratic Party to this extent, then demography will indeed prove to be destiny. What would be simplistic is to attribute the disparity to the fact that Obama is the first black president, or the fact that Republicans have been perceived as so unsympathetic on issues concerning immigration. If they want to attract minority support, Republicans will have to take into account what these voters believe on a range of issues, from the proper relationship between government and the individual to the proper role of the United States in a rapidly changing world.
I have to wonder if the GOP is even getting the tactics-and-messaging part right. Michael Steele (now an MSNBC colleague of mine) served as party chairman when Republicans won a sweeping victory in 2010; he was promptly fired. Reince Priebus presided over the 2012 disaster; last week, he was rewarded with a new term as chairman.
But no matter who's in charge, the GOP will have a tough time winning national elections until it has a better understanding of the nation. If Boehner is worried about being shoved
Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the Washington Post..
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