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Joe Conason
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Friday 23 November 2012
“According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors’ meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.”

Change? Learn? Compromise? Grow? Not These Republicans

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Hearing so much chatter about "change" in the Republican Party, the innocent voter might believe that the Republicans had learned important lessons from their stinging electoral defeat. On closer examination, however, the likelihood of real change appears nil because the party's leaders and thinkers can cite so many excuses to remain utterly the same.

At the Republican Governors Association conference last week, for instance, the favored explanation for the voting public's emphatic rejection of Mitt Romney had nothing to do with issues or ideology, but only with more effective Democratic Party organizing and communicating. According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors' meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.

"It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone," he found. "For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors."

That would be hard to believe if Goodwyn were not such an excellent and experienced journalist, because it is so stupid, so insulting and makes so little sense. Could it really be true that the nation's Republican governors — one of whom is quite likely to be the party's next presidential nominee — are so obtuse and so obstinate that they would reject change even on immigration?

Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed any tax increase, especially on "those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work," which is GOP code for mega-millionaires and above.

Clearly the Republicans in Congress, too, feel free to ignore public opinion on this question, since Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have offered a "compromise" on fiscal policy that represents no change whatsoever from their earlier positions and the Romney platform.

Government can accrue fresh revenues from growth, they say, nothing new or even meaningful there. And government can close unspecified loopholes and deductions to increase revenues, too. Where have we heard that before?

Meanwhile, the consulting geniuses who predicted a Romney victory — a landslide, even! — are peddling alibis about why their party lost despite billions spent. Fox News expert Dick Morris says it is because their voter machinery failed, the Romney campaign didn't fight back, and Hurricane Sandy persuaded all of the undecided voters to back Barack Obama.

By the way, Morris now predicts that the economy will suffer a ruinous decline over the coming year or two, so Republicans can just sit back and watch the Democrats sink with it, which is another way of saying no need for change on any front. Given his record as an oracle, both Democrats and Americans more generally now have great reasons for optimism.

Karl Rove, who squandered vast sums of his generous donors' money, has lots of explaining to do. But he always has lots of explanations. This time, having reluctantly acknowledged electoral reality, Rove agrees with Morris that the Romney campaign's failures were mostly to blame. He is full of advice for the party leaders, urging them to change the date of the convention, try to avoid "sounding judgmental and callous" on social issues, and "do better — much better" with Hispanics, younger voters, women and middle-class families.

How should Republicans "do better" with those voter groups? On that question, Rove resorts to cliches about "reframing" messages and "re-engineering" voter turnout efforts, as though issues and policies have nothing to do with motivating actual voters.

Finally, Rove insists that his donors will continue to pour good money after bad into the coffers of American Crossroads, his Super PAC. His current bleating sounds nothing like his confident bluster a decade ago, when he looked forward to a Republican realignment and unchecked power for decades to come.

Reality has changed, but Republicans won't. They insist on creating their own reality, like Rove and his friends at Fox News always did — but fewer and fewer Americans will still pretend to live there.


ABOUT Joe Conason

Joe Conason has written his popular political column for The New York Observer since 1992. He served as the Manhattan Weekly’s executive editor from 1992 to 1997. Since 1998, he has also written a column that is among the most widely read features on Conason is also a senior fellow at The Nation Institute.

It's pretty basic accounting.

It's pretty basic accounting. If you create a job, the salary & benefits, they are both a reduction of the bottom line and tax deductible. That is less money for the executive and less for him (or her) to be taxed on.

Actually executives are pretty savvy about deferring their income as long as possible and play lots of tax and accounting games, as it is. They can pay new employees or pay Uncle Sam.

"For example, the idea that

"For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors."

I think it's insulting for anyone, right or left, to assume that Hispanics vote based on what the candidates' positions are on immigration/the border. It's almost as insulting as assuming that American Jews vote based on the candidates' position on Israel. Do we not consider the fact that Hispanics are just as affected by the economy as other Americans? Do Hispanics not support Obamacare, or Obama's foreign policy or his stance on taxes? What about women? Do they not care about Obama's foreign policy or taxes, or employment, or Obama's stance on gay marriage and gay troops?

If we liberals assume that certain demographics care only about 1 issue, we'll become the conservatives/GOP, who openly reveal their contempt for many demographics who are statistically unlikely to vote for them. And when the GOP loses, MANY of them insult voters and voter intelligence. Let's not fall into that trap by assuming other voting blocks care about 1 issue and 1 issue only.

Your point is well taken but

Your point is well taken but a bit divorced from reality. "Single issue" voters constitute a significant number of voters in America. Millions of whites haven't and didn't vote for Barack Obama simply because he was black. The effect Republican leadership might have on their own economic situations took a backseat to the inherent racism that still permeates the country. A woman who has strong pro-reproductive views is NOT going to vote for someone who doesn't despite possible agreement on other issues.
I'm certain a number of Jews DO vote on a candidates position on Israel.
Is this sound reasoning? Of course not, but it is reality just the same. I have personally, in my wife's family, at least a dozen voters who vote Republican simply based on issues ranging from legalized abortion to overt racism. At least half are in very unstable economic conditions. Hopefully, younger voters will not be so inclined to follow these myopic footprints. Just as a sample; various members of my wife's family, living in N.California, now call the local public swimming pool, the "bean dip," due to increasing numbers of Hispanics using the pool in summer. Everyone of them is blue collar by trade and economic definition and everyone of them votes Republican without fail.

Democrats have traditionally had to cover so many bases and constituencies that Republicans have found great success in appealing to this type of voter. Perhaps the last election can be seen as a positive movement of individuals thinking beyond the box that has often been bred into them. Insulting? I agree. But it has been in the political toolbox for many decades. Why do you think the Southern states, despite being some of the poorest economic regions in the country, continue to vote GOP? Huge migrations of whites have gone to states such as Idaho, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Utah and Nebraska. These are now "red states."
Ever wonder why? And remember; they hold "traditional values" close to their bigoted hearts. The Democrats need to "prove" that they are actually Democrats again. Deviations to "moderation" have proved devastating since Reagan. If Liberals fail to enact the policies and promises they used to win this current electoral cycle,we may well be back on the road to "Red" in 2016.

The Republican Party is

The Republican Party is DEAD...From Ronal Raegan to the convention held in NYC ( still paying for locking up peaceful demonstrators in "un-sanitary" conditions) ( TO THE FACT THEY DO NOT ADDRESS IT )
. . The attack upon women's ( how do you demand healthcare for Congress while dis-allowing it for the citizens) ABORTION... whether you like it or not is a constitutional right - BUT YOU DO NOT ADDRESS THE CONSTITUTION?.?.?...... that if you get pregnant by rape it is god's will?? HOW DO YOU SEND TROOPS TO THEIR DEATHS ???
........Sorry how much of his own money did mr romney contribute to feed the homeless of SANDY....Oh, that Photo Op ?? at the soup kitchen?????????
boo-hoo-hoo we lost ?? Voter Suspension ?? not dis-enfranchisement ?? ??
Karl Rove banked on Florida ??? not off shore ??? OFF BASE - OUT OF REALITY....LAND OF MAKE-BELIEVE.......NEVER-NEVER -LAND......
. . . . . you only address your point - to the barest minimum....without the - duh I don't remember - gee, I don't re-call....I'll get back to you on that......

Weatherman's picture

The Republican party agenda

The Republican party agenda is the same as trickle-down economics of the 80's.
Those economic policies where perhaps the greatest contributor to our current economic demise. They were clearly Republican policies. That hasn't changed.
The term 'fiscal policy' is a joke.
On the other hand it's foolish to believe that our government and it's regulatory agency's have the best interest of the American people at heart... be they Democrat or Republican.
The agendas of both parties are being driven by the belief that if corporations(businesses) do well financially, America will prosper.
People still believe that gibberish... meanwhile the country suffers while the government gives money to wealthy people for a bailout and they then have difficulty finding the money to help people in times of real disaster.

Republicans are impervious to

Republicans are impervious to Facts and TRUTH and actually have a disdain for both and those who are impeccably honest.

The republicans didn't just

The republicans didn't just reiterate their old position, they've added the demand that Obamacare be put on the block even though the CBO says it will save money.

Did the Republicans fail? Or

Did the Republicans fail?

Or do we now have two Republican parties, with the slightly more palatable one in power?

We certainly still seem to be stuck in the wars Bush started, and consequently stuck with a declining economy.

@ Danh Hardly. The war in

@ Danh

Hardly. The war in Iraq has been ended, the war in Afghanistan is being drawn down, and our economy continues to expand, albeit slowly. There was indeed a choice in this election, and the will of the people was made abundantly clear in the results.

They bought into their own

They bought into their own propaganda. After a while they even started to believe their own lies. The Republican Party can't be fixed. We are all going to suffer for it because their obstructionism will continue with their House majority.

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